How important is 4WD or AWD when buying a car? Pretty important, it turns out

August 31, 2016

Car shoppers have never had a better selection of vehicles that offer all- or four-wheel drive, and it turns out that having one or the other is pretty important to new car buyers.

A recent poll we ran on Twitter asked readers how important a factor either all- or four-wheel drive is to car buyers.

All crossovers and SUVs are offered with a choice of sending power to all four wheels, with more traditional vehicles like the Toyota 4Runner utilizing a separate transfer case and locking center differential to evenly apportion power for proper four-wheel drive and gentler crossovers like the Ford Edge equipped with all-wheel drive systems designed for seamless operation in rain and snow.

2017 Subaru Forester

2017 Subaru Forester

Respondents were fairly evenly split between four choices when asked how crucial all- or four-wheel drive is for them: Very important, fairly important, I don't care, and I don't want it.


However, less than 20 percent of respondents specifically said that they don't want all-wheel drive, presumably indicating that they would shy away from a brand like Subaru, which only offers all-wheel drive on its volume models (not including the BRZ sports car).

2016 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Drive-E

2016 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD Drive-E

But with more than half of respondents—53 percent—saying that they consider it to be fairly or very important, it sure seems like automakers are offering what they want. 

Today's all-wheel-drive systems in crossovers and sedans typically don't require any driver intervention. Some have a center differential lock switch that forces a more aggressive distribution of power in slippery conditions, but the days of manual locking hubs and wrestling with a transfer case lever are long gone. 

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