The controversy has gone on for decades: which is better – front wheel drive or rear wheel drive? We used to have predominately rear wheel drive (RWD) automobiles on the road, but now, front wheel drive (FWD) vehicles are beginning to dominate. While the majority of current passenger cars are front wheel drive. First of all, the different types of wheel drive layouts. In most automotive circles the following acronyms are used:
AWD = all-wheel drive
4WD = four-wheel drive
RWD = rear-wheel drive
FWD = front-wheel drive
Each of these drive systems has its own merits and demerits.Usually, we have a competition between (four-wheel drive vs all-wheel drive) and (frontwheel drive vs rear-wheel
drive). With vehicles shifting between rear wheel drive and front wheel drive, which one is better? Let’s debate.
Front Wheel Drive
As the name suggests, in FWD vehicles the engine drives the front wheels. In general, car experts say that front wheel drive is safer and it performs better on slippery roads.
Interior space: increasing the volume available for passengers and cargo.
Cost: Fewer components overall.
Traction: Good traction due to weight on driving wheels
Weight: Fewer components mean lower weight.
Fuel economy: Lower weight means better gasoline mileage.
Wear & Tear : Front wheel drive wears down the front tires first so you don’t have to get the best tires in the rear.
Understeer : The center of gravity of the vehicle is typically farther forward than a comparable rear-wheel drive layout. This is a contributing factor in the tendency of front wheel drive cars to understeer.
Lack of weight shifting : This limits the acceleration of a front wheel drive vehicle. In a rear wheel drive car the weight shifts back during acceleration giving more traction to the driving wheels. This is the main reason why nearly all racing cars are rear wheel drive.
Rear Wheel Drive
Likewise, in RWD vehicles the engine drives the rear wheels. It still sees heavy use in taxis and police cars, due to cheaper maintenance, and in the case of police cars, better performance.
Handling : Better handling in dry conditions
Cost : Less costly and easier maintenance.
Even weight distribution : The division of weight between the front and rear wheels has a significant impact on a car’s handling. In this case, its even and hence balanced.
Steering radius : As no complicated drive shaft joints are required at the front wheels, it is possible to turn them further than would be possible using front wheel drive, resulting in a smaller steering radius.
Weight transfer : During heavy acceleration, the front end rises, and more weight is placed on the rear wheels.
More difficult to master : While the handling characteristics of rearwheel drive may be useful or fun in the hands of some drivers, for others, having the rear wheels move about is unintuitive and dangerous.
Decreased interior space : Rear wheel drive means less front leg room and sometimes less trunk space also.
Let’s look at front wheel drive and rear wheel drive more objectively. Is one better than the other? Front wheel drive still holds an advantage in terms of packaging, efficiency,
offering greater interior room in a smaller package, and excellent traction. Rear wheel drive provides better handling and acceleration. In the end, it depends on what YOU want from your car.
If it’s performance, you’re looking at rear wheel drive. If you’re indifferent, perhaps looking for a small car with greater interior volume, it’s front wheel drive for you. So the crux is that it all depends on what you want from your car. Over the last 20 years, technology has improved both layouts, reducing the advantages of front wheel drive to a point where rear wheel drive is a viable option for most people. Ultimately, you’ve got more choice, and when more choice is offered we all win.