The term ‘drivetrain’ is often confused with the powertrain. A powertrain is something that powers the car whereas the drivetrain is something entirely different. The drivetrain is a mechanism that connects the transmission to the axles of the car. thus, delivering power from the engine (powertrain) to the tires. The drivetrain system includes multiple parts such as driveshaft, axle shafts, U joints, CV joints, etc.
There are different types of drivetrain available in vehicles and each has its pros and cons. The four different drivetrains in Cars are all-wheel-drive (AWD), front-wheel-drive (FWD), rear-wheel-drive (RWD), and 4 wheel drive (4WD).
Front-Wheel Drive – FWD
FWD means that the engine’s power is transmitted to the front wheels of the vehicle. With front-wheel drive, the front wheels pull the car, and the rear wheels do not receive power on their own. Front-wheel-drive vehicles can achieve better fuel economy and maintain better traction in snow. However, Petrolheads find it boring to drive front-wheel-drive vehicles.
Rear Wheel Drive – RWD
RWD means that the engine’s power is transmitted to the rear wheels and the rear wheels move the vehicle. The front wheels receive no power and are free to manoeuvre the vehicle. An RWD vehicle has provides better balance because of even weight distribution. This is the reason most sports cars come in an RWD setup. The downside of an RWD vehicle is that it does not handle great in adverse weather conditions. The chances of losing traction on slippery roads are high with this type of drivetrain.
Four-Wheel Drive – 4WD
4WD means the power from the engine is delivered to all four wheels evenly at the same time. This setup provides an option to shift the drivetrain to RWD to conserve fuel. 4WD is the go-to choice for offroaders because of its ability to conquer any terrain or weather condition. The 4WD vehicle is operated in an RWD format most of the time, this setup provides less traction compared to AWD.
All-Wheel Drive – AWD
This type of transmission uses a front, rear, and centre differential to deliver power to all four wheels of a vehicle. All-wheel-drive system power both the front and rear wheels. There are 2 types of all-wheel drive. The first one is when all the wheel gets power delivered from the engine all the time. Manufacturers call this full-time all-wheel-drive. The second type is when power is delivered to all four wheels only when extra traction is required. this type of setup is called part-time all-wheel drive.
Choosing the right drivetrain depends on what kind of roads or terrain you want to drive in. In rough and Extreme terrain conditions 4WD is a good choice, while front-wheel drive is good for cold weather conditions.
Image 1,2,3 source: Wikipedia