What are all the pros and cons, the vehicle will be used for some trips to the mountains, deer hunting, and just driving to and from work in a suburban area. What are the main diferences in snow? gas usage? on dry pavement? etc. Thanks for any help!
I disagree with the first answer that AWD is better on fuel mileage. Based on what? Also that 4WD vehicles have more ground clearance. No they don't. The vehicle design is what gives it ground clearance, not the power distribution. Just because many AWD vehicles are smaller doesn't mean that is what makes them shorter. Also my 4WD does not slip nearly as much as my FWD car. Maybe if you 4WD is a light vehicle and it has tires that are too big for it you'd have that problem. My half-ton has no trouble maneuvering in snow with the 4WD on. AWD doesn't give you more traction either. Typically AWDs with viscous couplers for example don't lock up unless the wheels are slipping. If the wheels are slipping they only have kinetic friction with the road, which is not nearly as good as static friction.
The disadvantage of 4WD is that you can't drive it on dry pavement or the transfer case gears will bind up. So if you suddenly needed power to all wheels you need to turn the 4WD on manually. AWD you can leave on all the time because it allows for unequal tire rotation speeds and can redistribute power when needed. But if you are off-roading, you want 4WD on all the time. Ideally you should get a vehicle that has both.
Deer hunting-- if you're talking about gravel roads up in the mountains, AWD would be fine. If you're really talking about off road, you need 4wd.
AWD gives you more traction and such, but rarely has the ground clearance of 4wd or that low gear ratio that lets you crawl over the tough stuff.
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