WD or 4WD Motorhome

Do You Need an AWD or 4WD Motorhome?

So you’ve been thinking about a vehicle with four driven wheels. You’re trying to decide between All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and Four-Wheel Drive (4WD). How do they differ and what works best for your needs? Here’s what you need to know.

Power distribution

One of the biggest advantages of an AWD is that the driver doesn’t need to make decisions about managing the system. These automatic systems are usually designed to sense traction loss and send power to the wheels when needed. Other times, all four wheels will be driven all the time.

In the case of 4WDs, the power selection is left at the hands of the driver. Typically 4WDs are equipped with two settings: low range and high range. The low setting offers maximum traction on off road tracks while the other suits slippery on-road conditions. 


When it comes to AWD, you can find it on many types of vehicles including sedans, performance cars, and SUVs and more. Basically, you have a variety of choices. 4WDs on the other hand, are seen as more traditional. As such, this system is mainly found in trucks and SUVs.

Part-time and full-time options

Both AWD and 4WD offer part-time and full-time variations. With part-time, AWDs send torque to two driven wheels, either the front or rear during normal operations. The system will automatically deliver torque to the other two wheels when the road condition demands it. In the case of full-time AWDs, power is delivered to all four wheels in varying intensity depending on the driving environment.

With part-time 4WDs, the vehicle is driven by two wheels, usually by the rear. The driver would need to decide when to engage 4WD. This is usually done with a button or a lever. Certain 4WDs facilitate extra traction by giving you the option to lock in the vehicle’s differentials. Full-time 4WDs operate similarly to AWDs with the driver usually having the option to determine the level of power being delivered to the wheels.

Cost and fuel economy

Cost is an important factor, particularly for motorhomes. With AWDs, the cost tends to be relatively higher as the existing system controls the power of all four wheels. This in turn reduces fuel economy.

Although 4WDs are getting increasingly refined, they can at times offer a stiffer ride than your typical 2WD. Their initial costs are usually higher yet fuel economy is far lower owing to the power-hungry nature of 4WD systems.

Driving in cold weather

Taking your vehicle out during cold weather means you can encounter varying road conditions, ranging from glare ice to hard snow. This makes AWD a good option as it caters to the different power requirements of all 4 wheels based on the environmental conditions. However, more extreme conditions call for 4WD motorhomes. The added control and power that comes with 4WD enables you to tackle deeper snow and more extreme winter conditions with relative ease.

Which should you go for?

So which option should you go with? That depends on your specific requirements as each variation has its own pros and cons. If your journey often comes across varying road conditions, then an AWD might fit the bill. However, only a proper 4WD motorhome can truly tackle heavy-duty off road environments. Still undecided? Let the experts help. Explorer Motorhomes specialises in catering to 4WD motorhomes needs in Australia. Get in touch with our team of specialists. Contact us today for a quote.