First of all, 4WD or 4×4 is not the same as AWD, despite not so rarely some are using them to describe same occurrences. They differ in engineering sense and more importantly in the sense of their purpose. Normally, as somebody told us, there are fifty shades of gray, so in the real world, those terms made sure that things got complicated.
We could see 4×4 in places where it shouldn’t be expected, we witnessed the two being together on the same options list, sometimes they both exploit same differential marvels, and finally, AWD found some “strange” new purposes, completely differing from the original idea. To avoid brain overload let’s start with basics.
4WD VS AWD - First of all, 4WD or 4×4 is not the same as AWD, despite not so rarely some are using them to describe…carttraction.com
Black and White
If we somehow imagine that the world is black and white, things would be simple. 4WD is old-school, hard-core off road utility capable of getting you deeper into the Mather nature’s hug, while AWD is later developed, milder version of it, which tries to avoid some negative sides of the original, but still providing certain capability when things get tough (or better- inconvenient, in order to avoid overstatement).
Naturally, 4×4 goes along with SUVs, but ones which you can’t simultaneously call crossovers. These are the ones carrying truck’s underpinnings (just not the ones from alien-ish Ridgeline) or in different words ladder frames and solid rear axles.
Count in some mid-sizers there, such as Wrangler, along with 4Runner and brotherly posh Lexus GX, and pretty much whole array of mainstream and luxury full-size SUVs ranging from all American- Tahoe, Yukon, Expedition, lavish Escalade and Navigator, to Japanese- Sequoia, Armada, Land Cruiser, together with luxurious Lexus LX and Infiniti QX80.
European SUVs are not especially inclined to body on frame recipe lately, with Ranger Rover abandoning it along with Sport model and Discovery, leaving Merc G-Class only specimen of that kind for the moment.
More on: http://carttraction.com/4wd-vs-awd/