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Old 14th January 2012, 19:30   #1
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Default Why should one buy a 4WD (4X4 system)/ AWD as against a 4x2?

I looked up for it and didn't find something that points precisely to the query. What are your reasons for going in for a 4WD or AWD system? Is it necessary?

I know of one person in this forum who has done many a miles (on all kinds of terrains and drives a humble Scorpio. Doesn't HVK drive a 2WD?), then WHY 4WD?

Lets keep the discussion limited to the kind of roads that more than 95% drive on. I am talking about
- About 50 kms in a city like Bombay (worst of roads that get terribly waterlogged when it rains)
- Two-three mid range road trips here and there
- Sometimes a bendy road on some Ghats and why not to the Himalayan Territory

Will appreciate your inputs.
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Old 14th January 2012, 19:43   #2
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Default Re: Why should one buy a 4WD (4X4 system)/ AWD as against a 4x2?

Get a 4x4 ONLY if:

- You intend to off-road. This point is applicable to Jeeps, Gypsy (made only in 4x4) and also some SUVs that can handle light off-roading (Fortuner etc.).

- You are going to drive on challenging terrain, including in-existent roads. Someone I know has a property in Lonavla that a 4x2 simply cannot access. You'll just be spinning your wheels in the monsoons. Moderator TSK won't be able to visit 50% of his dream locations with a 4x2. Want to drive on a beach or the desert? Get a 4x4.

- Your city has snow (inapplicable to India)

Else, just get the 4x2 variant and get done with it. No point lugging around additional equipment that will only result in unnecessary weight, loss of fuel efficiency and higher maintenance. Also, you pay 1 lakh more for the 4x4 gear that you'll never use, and never quite recover at the time of resale either.

On a related note, I highly recommend sedans over SUVs for those that don't need 3 rows of seats or that ground clearance : Related Thread (Should you buy an SUV? The definitive Sedan vs SUV debate)

Last edited by GTO : 14th January 2012 at 19:45.
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Old 14th January 2012, 21:00   #3
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Default Re: Why should one buy a 4WD (4X4 system)/ AWD as against a 4x2?

In addition to what GTO has already said, I also would like to add that in cars which have AWD and ESP along with it, safety is something that will be substantially enhanced irrespective with the kind of roads and the type of journey that you intend to undertake.
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Old 14th January 2012, 21:35   #4
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Default Re: Why should one buy a 4WD (4X4 system)/ AWD as against a 4x2?

In some cars with full time AWD it helps the handling a lot. Case in point, full time AWD along with ESP in Fortuner was introduced in response to the infamous rollover issues in South Africa(sadly our low priority country did not get ESP from day one). Another example is XUV, the 2wd version has a very strong torque steer on less than perfect roads along with prominent understeer, this might give non attentive drivers a surprise if they are not holding the steering firmly, i expect the AWD version to be better.
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Old 14th January 2012, 21:42   #5
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Default Re: Why should one buy a 4WD (4X4 system)/ AWD as against a 4x2?

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Originally Posted by .anshuman View Post
In some cars with full time AWD it helps the handling a lot. Case in point, full time AWD along with ESP in Fortuner was introduced in response to the infamous rollover issues in South Africa(sadly our low priority country did not get ESP from day one). Another example is XUV, the 2wd version has a very strong torque steer on less than perfect roads along with prominent understeer, this might give non attentive drivers a surprise if they are not holding the steering firmly, i expect the AWD version to be better.
I second this. In fact, this month's ACI tests the Skoda Yeti 4X2 and has the same set of observations. On the downside, the fwd makes the Yeti prone to torque steer, and overall high speed handling feels a little nervous. On the upside, the car doesn't stall when you roll from standstill, and FE is better.

As GTO says, buy 4X4 only if you need to go offroad, or you drive in conditions which require genuine all-wheel assistance.

Edit: Just an addition. Have you driven a Chevrolet Forester at speed? Do it, and you'll know what wonders AWD can do for handling!

Last edited by predatorwheelz : 14th January 2012 at 21:47.
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Old 14th January 2012, 22:35   #6
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Default Re: Why should one buy a 4WD (4X4 system)/ AWD as against a 4x2?

Well, I have managed admirably in most places with my 2WD Scorpio where they told me it could not manage. But I would have done lot more places with a 4WD without any worries.
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Old 14th January 2012, 23:00   #7
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Default Re: Why should one buy a 4WD (4X4 system)/ AWD as against a 4x2?

Quote:
Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
Edit: Just an addition. Have you driven a Chevrolet Forester at speed? Do it, and you'll know what wonders AWD can do for handling!
While there are many versions of AWD, most of them seem to route just fractional (ex: 5%) torque to the rear (or front in some) wheels. What makes the Forester very special is it has symmetrical AWD, where 50% of the torque is sent to both front and rear wheels. Further the equal length drive shafts are supposed to help in eliminating the torque steer completely.
I totally agree with high speed handling of the forester. It is most neutral even when you approach a curve at fairly high speed.
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Old 14th January 2012, 23:20   #8
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Default Re: Why should one buy a 4WD (4X4 system)/ AWD as against a 4x2?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Get a 4x4 ONLY if:

- You intend to off-road. This point is applicable to Jeeps, Gypsy (made only in 4x4) and also some SUVs that can handle light off-roading (Fortuner etc.).

- You are going to drive on challenging terrain, including in-existent roads. Someone I know has a property in Lonavla that a 4x2 simply cannot access. You'll just be spinning your wheels in the monsoons. Moderator TSK won't be able to visit 50% of his dream locations with a 4x2. Want to drive on a beach or the desert? Get a 4x4.

- Your city has snow (inapplicable to India)

Else, just get the 4x2 variant and get done with it. No point lugging around additional equipment that will only result in unnecessary weight, loss of fuel efficiency and higher maintenance. Also, you pay 1 lakh more for the 4x4 gear that you'll never use, and never quite recover at the time of resale either.

On a related note, I highly recommend sedans over SUVs for those that don't need 3 rows of seats or that ground clearance : Related Thread (Should you buy an SUV? The definitive Sedan vs SUV debate)
You have pretty much summed my (not)needs. Other than the fact that I do need a decent amount of ground clearance and a spacious cabin (I will carry quite a bit of luggage with which I intend to clock some moderate miles now and then.), I don't really need a SUV. Or maybe I do because I like the way a SUV looks. I am so sold on the Renault Duster already.

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Originally Posted by predatorwheelz View Post
I second this. In fact, this month's ACI tests the Skoda Yeti 4X2 and has the same set of observations. On the downside, the fwd makes the Yeti prone to torque steer, and overall high speed handling feels a little nervous. On the upside, the car doesn't stall when you roll from standstill, and FE is better.

As GTO says, buy 4X4 only if you need to go offroad, or you drive in conditions which require genuine all-wheel assistance.

Edit: Just an addition. Have you driven a Chevrolet Forester at speed? Do it, and you'll know what wonders AWD can do for handling!
I haven't driven the Chevrolet Forester and from what I have read about it, the AWD system works wonders for it. I have certainly driven Pajero and it responses wonderfully when there is 4WD activated and the track isn't exactly tarmac. That apart however, in most of the cases one rarely does feel a need for investment in a 4WD system.

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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Well, I have managed admirably in most places with my 2WD Scorpio where they told me it could not manage. But I would have done lot more places with a 4WD without any worries.
Your Scorpio is a legend already and from what I have read, it has been very very reliable. It is one heavy SUV and shedding some weight alone could have done even more wonders to what is the best SUV to have come out of India stable.

HVK Sir, tell me one thing. Now after clocking more than 2 Lac kms, and in hindsight, would you have bought the 4WD Scorpio?
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Old 14th January 2012, 23:31   #9
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Default Re: Why should one buy a 4WD (4X4 system)/ AWD as against a 4x2?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Animesh View Post
Your Scorpio is a legend already and from what I have read, it has been very very reliable. It is one heavy SUV and shedding some weight alone could have done even more wonders to what is the best SUV to have come out of India stable.

HVK Sir, tell me one thing. Now after clocking more than 2 Lac kms, and in hindsight, would you have bought the 4WD Scorpio?
Actually, I am just 3,000 kms short of 3,00,000 kms, testimonial to how reliable and robust the Scorpio is.

I am no OTR sportsman, but Yes, I would have done a lot more of sectors in the Himalayas with a 4WD. I did not buy my Scorpio's 4WD cousin mainly because it looked over-priced and simply not available without a long waiting period when I bought my 2WD Scorpio.
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Old 15th January 2012, 00:03   #10
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Default Re: Why should one buy a 4WD (4X4 system)/ AWD as against a 4x2?

Quote:
I am just 3,000 kms short of 3,00,000 kms, testimonial to how reliable and robust the Scorpio is
If guys from Mahindra are reading this they must take this Scorpio back from HVK and gift him a new 4 X 4 ..

Toyota Tundra Deconstructed
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Old 15th January 2012, 01:51   #11
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Default Re: Why should one buy a 4WD (4X4 system)/ AWD as against a 4x2?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
I am no OTR sportsman, but Yes, I would have done a lot more of sectors in the Himalayas with a 4WD. I did not buy my Scorpio's 4WD cousin mainly because it looked over-priced and simply not available without a long waiting period when I bought my 2WD Scorpio.
Ok, let me put the same question in a different way.

If and when you intend to go for your next set of wheels, will they be a 4wd SUV or an AWD SUV or a 2wd SUV again keeping everything else constant?


Your answer will help a lot of people on the forum to decide their car/vehicle.
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Old 15th January 2012, 05:52   #12
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Default Re: Why should one buy a 4WD (4X4 system)/ AWD as against a 4x2?

In a 2wd vehicle you need to plan a lot and cannot be as careless as sometimes on a 4wd vehicle (This is specifically regarding the terrain that one if driving on).

In our 2004 Manali trip it had snowed heavily there and the routes from Kullu to Manali were closed due to snow. Only 4x4 gypsies were playing on that route to get you to Manali. We happen to sit in a 2wd sumo whose driver was an expert when i asked how is he driving his 2wd when many others are only driving with 4x4, he said i only start driving when the 4x4 clears the path to a certain extent so i do not risk getting stuck.

So i guess having an idea about your 2wd vehicles capabilities will help, and sometimes you need to give some kind of terrains a miss, or maybe start after others have cleared it to certain degree.

Last edited by mayankjha1806 : 15th January 2012 at 05:53.
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Old 15th January 2012, 07:09   #13
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Default Re: Why should one buy a 4WD (4X4 system)/ AWD as against a 4x2?

Adding a little to some of the points made here. This is a nice thread!

4WD is a must have if you intend to go to highly slushy areas or sandy areas or if you need to ascend / descend tracks with steep inclines in the monsoons or even stony tracks in the dry season, because a 2WD will not find enough traction on such loose-ish surfaces.

Or if you have a farm or estate and your vehicle is a proper working/ hauling vehicle it is certainly a must have. You cant, for example, haul a 1.5 ton trailer laden with produce up a reasonable incline unless you have 4WD, else you will fry your clutch!

I would agree with what a lot of the others have posted here. Dont buy it unless you will definitely use it.

I had a 2WD Bolero and a 2WD Scorpio and was able to take them to lots of "off the beaten track places".

But before that in my old Gypsy(s) and in my Dad's MM540/550's, Ive been to some rather strange places that both the Bolero and Scorpio 2WDs would have given up the ghost on!

Even as recently as a year or two ago, my Scorpio simply couldnt take a 45 degree incline on a dirt track in the monsoons - it simply didnt have enough momentum to manage it and its wheels simply didnt find sufficient traction - all I got for my pains was madly spinning rear wheels accompanied by the odour of a lightly saute-ing clutch!

So I gave it up and walked instead.

I do agree however, that the safety aspect afforded by the more modern AWDs and 2WDs are a must have.

AWD/ 4WD is an absolute advantage in rallying for example.

Yesterday early morning I went to a place called Clover Greens for golf. My other senior friend and ex-boss of mine was in his AWD AT Q5 TFSI and I was in my 4x4 Yeti.

There is a 2 km long, curvy, dust laden, gravelly, dirt track to reach the Clover parking lot, from the main road.

I can tell you that both vehicles had a merry time of it with a bit of 4 wheel drift and stuff. The extremely composed handling of these cars , their AWD systems with ESP, ASR and all that stuff kick in so brilliantly that is an absolute delight being a "pretend rallyist".

By contrast, I ve driven my Scorpio up and down that road in the past and believe me it is pretty challenging to drive even a little fast in that vehicle, because the rear swings out and it fish-tails quite madly around those curves. Its lack of ESP and other safety kit is a deterrent to such things as are its overall handling characteristics, height from the ground and general wallowing. With 4x4 it would be marginally better, but I would not attempt higher speeds because of no other serious safety stuff in it and the very real risk of toppling.

You may remember that the earlier 2WD Lancias ruled the roost in rallying along dirt tracks, until they created the 4WD versions. And poor Lancia had to simply step aside when the Audi's landed up with the Quattro systems and all the other gizmos. SAAB used to do a wonderful job in the 1980's in Scandinavia with their 4x4 systems - especially in snow, ice and mushy stuff in the winter season. (I believe the Finns, Swedes and other Scandinavians are arguably the world's best qualified chaps, when it comes to rallying.)

Guna's post about the confidence inspired with a good AWD/4WD mated to all the safety stuff is absolutely right, in my experience too. I have rented and driven a new gen fully loaded AWD Subaru Forester with all possible kit in it, last year in Winter, on some slushy and grassy tracks in the UK and the confidence that it inspires is superb. Driving on wet, long grass is not easy at all and one really has to be very careful indeed.

I get the same level of confidence in my Yeti - in fact the Forester drive was one of the reasons for me to want and get one of these more modern AWD machines for my own use.

Many years ago, in our old Ambys and Fiats, if one needed to ascend a hugely steep incline in the monsoons, one simply had to reverse up because the rear wheels simply would not find traction if one were trying to go up normally. I have seen my dad do this and learned about it from him. Typically we used to go to such places invariably in our 4WD jeep, from then on.

Of course 4WD and AWD are "nice to have" but if you ask me strictly whether they are "must haves", I would simply say that it depends on your usage patterns. Else they can be just so much expensive "dead weight" to lug around.

Last edited by shankar.balan : 15th January 2012 at 07:17.
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Old 15th January 2012, 08:23   #14
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Default Re: Why should one buy a 4WD (4X4 system)/ AWD as against a 4x2?

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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Actually, I am just 3,000 kms short of 3,00,000 kms, testimonial to how reliable and robust the Scorpio is.
That is a . I am making up the next advertising campaign in my head for Mahindra's. This is how it goes -

It would be a big hoarding with you sitting atop your Scorpio.
Looking out towards somewhere in the distance.
Not smoking a cigarette (so you are even more cool).
And in the background the clouds are shaped in the form of a sentence. The sentence is "BEEN THERE. DONE THAT. WHERE DO I GO NEXT?"

So cheeky. But sums up the relationship between HVK Sir and his Car. Man n Machine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
I am no OTR sportsman, but Yes, I would have done a lot more of sectors in the Himalayas with a 4WD. I did not buy my Scorpio's 4WD cousin mainly because it looked over-priced and simply not available without a long waiting period when I bought my 2WD Scorpio.
Price is ofcourse a huge consideration to me and as it would be for most people. I would simply go ahead and buy a 4WD or AWD if a version is available and if I didn't care about the price. So, paying a premium of around 1 Lac is of absolutely consideration.

I also understand that there is additional maintenance cost attached. Not sure of the quantum of the additional costs though because of 4WD system in the car over lifetime of the car. Totally depends on durability and efficiency of these systems which I am ignorant about.

On the cost front, there would be a drop in FE on normal roads (when one can operate on 2WD mode, but then there would be extra weight to the car). How much is the approximate drop in FE?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post
In a 2wd vehicle you need to plan a lot and cannot be as careless as sometimes on a 4wd vehicle (This is specifically regarding the terrain that one if driving on).

So i guess having an idea about your 2wd vehicles capabilities will help, and sometimes you need to give some kind of terrains a miss, or maybe start after others have cleared it to certain degree.
I (or a stereotype of me) would like to have that amount of comfort where I can go ahead on these Manali-kinda-snowy-roads. However, I am not expecting a lot of such trips.

The drive outside the city may involve driving in the hills (say Mahabaleshwar or Munnar kind of routes).
(a) Would it make a difference (by some margin of comfort and safety) whether one is driving in 4WD or 2WD SUV?
(b) How much do these equations get tilted in favor of 4WD if it is raining in such hills? I guess a lot since I see a plenty of Mahindra Jeeps.


Quote:
Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
4WD is a must have if you intend to go to highly slushy areas or sandy areas or if you need to ascend / descend tracks with steep inclines in the monsoons or even stony tracks in the dry season, because a 2WD will not find enough traction on such loose-ish surfaces.

Or if you have a farm or estate and your vehicle is a proper working/ hauling vehicle it is certainly a must have. You cant, for example, haul a 1.5 ton trailer laden with produce up a reasonable incline unless you have 4WD, else you will fry your clutch!
I don't see myself driving in hilly terrains and in rains for more than a couple of times in a year.
I am definitely not hauling anything. A farm/estate has to wait another day

Quote:
But before that in my old Gypsy(s) and in my Dad's MM540/550's, Ive been to some rather strange places that both the Bolero and Scorpio 2WDs would have given up the ghost on!

Even as recently as a year or two ago, my Scorpio simply couldnt take a 45 degree incline on a dirt track in the monsoons - it simply didnt have enough momentum to manage it and its wheels simply didnt find sufficient traction - all I got for my pains was madly spinning rear wheels accompanied by the odour of a lightly saute-ing clutch!
Bad. Now I want a 4WD.

Quote:
I do agree however, that the safety aspect afforded by the more modern AWDs and 2WDs are a must have.

AWD/ 4WD is an absolute advantage in rallying for example.
Not rallying ever.

Quote:
Of course 4WD and AWD are "nice to have" but if you ask me strictly whether they are "must haves", I would simply say that it depends on your usage patterns. Else they can be just so much expensive "dead weight" to lug around.
It is exactly this tricky trade-off that this thread is looking to solve here to some reasonable extent.

So adding to the points of discussion in the thread.

Would you buy a 4WD if you intend to do a couple of Mahabaleshwar/Munnar kind of trips in a year? No not a Ladakhisque trip (even if I know that it can be done on such a thing as Maruti 800 with a plenty of added adventure).
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Old 15th January 2012, 09:00   #15
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Default Re: Why should one buy a 4WD (4X4 system)/ AWD as against a 4x2?

Great points made by shankar.balan, quite a guide to buying a 4WD.

n.devdath, that is a very difficult question - would I buy a 2WD or a 4WD? Well, for my normal usage, I don't need 4WD. But if I had 4WD, I would have definitely gone more places off the highway in places like Ladakh, Arunachal, etc.

But the other issue is, I would be very careful in going for a Mahindra 4WD Automatic or something of that sort - remember what happened to Pramod Singh, his brand-new one broke down in Ladakh and it had to be shipped down to Jammu for repairs. So my bigger consideration would be a less sophisticated 4WD - in any case, I love to use my own driving skills than let some electronic chip take over!!

And to answer Animesh, no, I won't need a 4WD in any sector in Kerala (although it may help during rainy season, but nothing that I cannot skip), since I am not a OTR sportsman anyway.
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