Should I buy an all-wheel drive vehicle?
A woman came into our showroom last week convinced she needed to buy an all-wheel drive vehicle. For the vehicle she was interested in, the cost would have been about $2000 more. To ensure it made sense for her to make that additional investment, I inquired about her driving habits. As covered in last week’s Ask Gary column, we ask the questions to understand the customer’s needs and if they don’t need to spend more, we help them get the vehicle that best meets their needs at a lower cost.
Driving habits and where you drive are key factors to consider when evaluating whether you should buy an all-wheel drive vehicle or a 4-wheel drive vehicle. In this case, the woman mostly drove around town and did some highway driving. Based on our in-depth discussion about her driving routine and habits, we concluded she really did not need to have an all-wheel drive vehicle. To help answer your question, it is important to understand the difference between all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, since people commonly use the terms interchangeably:
All-Wheel Drive—described commonly as AWD; has a drivetrain that employs a front, rear and center differential to provide power to all four wheels of a vehicle at the same time. AWD is generally found on cars and crossovers such as the Toyota Rav-4, Highlander, Matrix S, Sienna and Venza and Volvo XC70, XC 90 and XC60.
Four-Wheel Drive— described as 4WD or 4 x4; has a drivetrain that employs two differentials and a transfer case to provide power to all four wheels of a vehicle. 4WD is predominantly in truck-based platforms (Toyota 4-Runner, Tundra and Tacoma) and is ideal for use in off-road situations. The Volvo XV60 is available in four-wheel drive.
All-wheel and 4-wheel drive help a vehicle accelerate in slippery conditions, but they don’t help with braking and only sometimes improve handling. In some cases, the tires on the vehicle you choose may compensate for certain road conditions, and may be a lower cost alternative to buying all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles. If you are a skier, and frequently drive to the mountains in snowy conditions, you may want to consider all your needs and invest in AWD or perhaps even 4WD. If your driving is primarily local on paved roads and some highway driving, you likely do not need to invest in either option. Keep in mind, other preferences come into account as some of our customers prefer the truck frame and being up higher and want the 4-Runner for its many features while 4WD is not an absolute requirement.
Four wheel drive vehicles are great if you travel on dirt on unpaved roads and for climates where it rains or snows for many months of the year. The advantages are that these vehicles help with traction and acceleration in inclement weather. If you tow a boat or a camper, a truck with four-wheel drive will prove useful if you tow on sandy ground or dirt roads. But even towing on dry roads, four-wheel drive is not necessary.
While they cost more, both AWD and 4WD vehicles generally have a higher resale value. However, because they are heavier vehicles, they tend to be less economical for fuel—a big consideration with the current price of gas. If you live or travel frequently to an area where you are driving on dirt roads, an all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle may be the best option to avoid getting stuck on muddy or snowy roads.
If you’re researching vehicles and evaluating whether you should invest in four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, please come to Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion where we can help answer any questions you have and help you make an informed decision. Like our recent customer who was sure she needed AWD, we may be able to save you money while helping you select the best vehicle for your driving needs.
Safe driving and enjoy the summer driving season!