In the old days, buying a car was easy. You got what you asked for. Utes and trucks looked and performed like trucks. An SUV 4wd vehicle was exactly that and everything else was a "typical car". But today, various advancements, categories, sub-categories, and classes can make choosing the right vehicle and 4wd accessories challenging.
Most people used to visit a couple of car yards, check out what was for sale and buy what took their fancy. Now 4wd buyers are becoming smarter. With more considerations for power, comfort, ride clearance and off road ability, often the choice between four wheel drive and all wheel drive comes to light. For the inexperienced, these two systems are not the same and have considerable differences. Also, picking either one adds considerable cost to the vehicle and it is recommended to make an informed choice.
All wheel drive vehicles or AWD's have all wheels powered all of the time. This makes for a safer driving experience, especially in wet weather. However, fuel economy suffers from this due to the additional drive train. Recently there are a lot of smarter AWD vehicles coming to market that employ the all wheel drive ability only when one or more of the tyres are about to loose traction. This rectifies the fuel efficiency issues previously discovered in older AWD cars.
Four wheel drives or 4wd's have the ability to select rear wheel drive or 4wd. Some vehicles require getting out and locking the front hubs to engage 4wd. Others have a lever in the vehicle to allow the selecting of 4wd mode. This makes it the ideal vehicle for both city and highway driving as well as the occasional play off road. The picture of a 4WD-capable automobile plowing through streams in some far-away jungle is still the illustration that manufacturers strive to present these days, and their off-road driving capabilities continue to be reasonably unequaled.
If you're shopping for an off road vehicle and can't decide if you require a AWD or a 4WD, one thing you can do is to make a list of all the details you put your car through on any given day. Make sure a AWD or a 4WD can reach accomplish these tasks. This would help you pick the best system for your driving requirements.