Do You Really Need That AWD?

By: Hilltop Toyota   |   13 Sep 2016
Tire on dirt

Four-wheel drive, also called all-wheel drive (AWD) is a transmission system that provides power directly to all four wheels of a vehicle on a two-axled system. This feature is generally reserved for off-roading adventures, but for some reason or another, many new car buyers won’t take a second look at a potential vehicle unless it comes standard with four-wheel drive. With all of the advanced electronic braking technologies and control systems, is this feature really necessary? Like every vehicle feature, there are positive and negative results for AWD and before you narrow down your vehicle search to include only those with this benefit, consider both sides to the story and how you use your vehicle.

Extra Traction Comes At a Cost

Four-wheel drive was created to make all four of your wheels spin at once. So if you happen to find yourself in a sticky, muddy or snowy situation, you’re not just relying on your two front wheels, or your two back wheels to get you out of a mess. If you live in a climate like Canada that sees a lot of snow and a major seasonal transition each year, purchasing AWD is probably a good idea(Especially if you live outside the city). You’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you will always get to where you need to be going, without the threat of being stuck ever entering your mind.

But, like every extra add-on, four-wheel drive comes at a cost. Installing AWD systems up front will always cost you more, and some dealerships put this estimate anywhere between $1,500 to $3,000 depending on the vehicle. It’s also much more expensive to maintain than 2-wheel drive, because, well, you’ve got four wheels to look after, not two. If something goes wrong with your AWD system, it’s also becoming harder and harder to diagnose and successfully fix the issue without completely replacing it. Modern technology has seen the rise of computer parts and systems in cars, rather than parts and gadgets of the past. If a computer crashes, it’s downright near impossible to fix sometimes and the same goes for AWD systems of this kind.

Higher Prices at the Pump

AWD systems use up a significantly higher amount of energy when they deliver power to all four wheels. This also makes your vehicle heavier, and everyone knows that the heavier a vehicle, the more fuel it burns up out on the road. AWD vehicles usually return worse fuel economy than their 2-wheel drive counterparts, and will essentially cost you in lost mileage and extra funds at the pumps. Contrary to popular belief, AWD doesn’t replace snow tires, so if you considered buying a vehicle for that, think twice. Snow tires were designed to specifically for winter driving conditions, which means they are thicker and equipped with more traction than the regular tires that would be installed on your vehicle once it rolls off the manufacturing belt.


When deciding between AWD and 2WD vehicles, consider how you use your vehicle. The inner city commuter who stays on road will likely do well with snow tires while the cottage bound family who goes a little off the beaten path may need to consider upgrading. Do you need help choosing the right vehicle, or have a question about Toyota AWD and non-AWD vehicles? We can help! Give us a call today at (844) 988-4231 or contact us online.