Truck Rental Agency

Rugged operates an independent passenger vehicle rental agency in Salt Lake City, Utah specializing in Pickup Truck, SUV, and Van rentals with a unique emphasis on 4WD & AWD options and vehicles for towing. 

What exactly does “All-Wheel Drive” mean?

As the name suggests, all-wheel-drive cars make use of drive systems that provide propulsion to both the front and the back wheels. There are two distinct types of all-wheel-drive systems, both of which are important to discuss. The first option is referred to as all-time or full-time all-wheel drive (AWD). It maintains constant rotation of all four wheels. The second method is called a part-time all-wheel-drive system or an automated all-wheel-drive system, and it only engages AWD when it is absolutely necessary to do so. Part-time all-wheel drive systems spend the majority of their time in two-wheel drive mode (which helps save fuel), switching to AWD mode only when additional traction is required.

How All-Wheel Drive Works 

AWD systems, whether full-time or part-time, typically function without any input from the driver; however, certain models have selectable modes that give the driver some degree of control over the distribution of power among the vehicle’s components. All of the wheels get torque by way of a system of differentials, viscous couplings, and/or multi-plate clutches. These components work together to help distribute power to the wheels in order to maximize the truck’s traction. The truck continues to function without flaws under normal driving circumstances.

When you have full-time all-wheel drive, both the front and the back axles are driven continuously. This type of all-wheel drive (AWD) can improve the vehicle’s handling on dry roads and ensure that the maximum amount of power is transmitted to the ground. It also gives more grip in adverse circumstances such as ice, snow, or mud, which results in more constant traction and more confident handling of the vehicle.


Part-time all-wheel drive often distributes torque to two of the vehicle’s driven wheels—either the front or the rear, depending on the specific model. Then, once the system detects that the road conditions require additional traction, it will automatically activate the other two wheels. A variety of electronic sensors are utilized in today’s modern part-time all-wheel-drive systems. This information is then transmitted to a computer, which is responsible for regulating the amount of power that is sent to each wheel. Another type of automobile that is gaining popularity is the all-wheel-drive hybrid, which combines low gas mileage with the ability to drive in all weather.

The Good and the Bad of All-Wheel Drive

The fact that the driver does not need to make any selections in order to activate the all-wheel-drive system is the best feature of this type of system. Either one or all of the wheels are driven continuously, or the system is designed to detect when there is a lack of traction and provide power to the wheels that require it. You have a wide selection of options to select from. 

Although all-wheel drive (AWD) is capable of performing well in a wide variety of environments, including minor off-roading, snow, and rain, serious off-roaders tend to view it as a less desirable option. This attitude is changing slightly as modern AWD systems enhance their capabilities, but many drivers who like to wander far off the usual route still prefer to decide for themselves when to engage four-wheel drive. This is especially true of vehicles that have high ground clearance. AWD also typically results in a rise in the price of a vehicle and, in most situations, results in a decrease in the car’s fuel economy.

Four-Wheel Drive

The four-wheel drive system is a more conventional method for powering all four wheels, and it is most commonly used in pickup trucks and large sport utility vehicles (SUVs). The image that typically comes to mind when you think of a vehicle with four-wheel drive is one that is climbing over boulders, driving off-road across the desert, or traversing a river with water up to the mirrors.

In most situations, a mechanical connection serves as the motive force behind 4WD systems. These systems distribute torque to all four wheels via a succession of front, middle, and rear differentials, in addition to transfer cases and couplings. These systems have become more sophisticated over the years, allowing for the connection and disconnection of 4WD through the use of buttons and knobs; however, many traditional 4WD systems are managed through a floor-mounted lever that looks like a second gear shifter. These systems have been made available for a variety of vehicles, including cars, trucks, and SUVs.

All-Wheel Drive

Both all-wheel drive (AWD) and four-wheel drive (4WD) systems are designed to deliver torque to all four of a vehicle’s wheels in order to boost traction when it is necessary to do so. On the other hand, four-wheel drive (4WD) systems are typically more durable than all-wheel drive (AWD) systems and can typically manage more difficult terrain. In addition, there are two distinct categories of these jobs: full-time and part-time.

The driver of many four-wheel-drive vehicles has the ability to select between a low range and a high range using either an electrical switch or a mechanical lever that is positioned on the floor. The high setting is ideal for slippery on-road conditions, such as packed snow, ice, loose sand, or gravel, while the low setting provides the maximum grip in an off-road scenario.


Full-time four-wheel drive works in the same way that full-time all-wheel drive does, in that power is continuously distributed to all four wheels. Selectable modes may be included in some configurations so that the driver has the ability to determine how the power is distributed between the front and back axles of the vehicle.


This kind of system is the genuine traditionalist when it comes to four-wheel drive, and it is most commonly found in trucks and SUVs that are built to work and play in situations that are more harsh. In this scenario, the vehicle is driven by two wheels, which are normally located in the vehicle’s rear axle. The driver is responsible for determining when four-wheel drive is required and then engaging it by either pushing a button or shifting a lever. In addition, certain systems provide the driver the ability to lock the differentials of the truck, which provides additional traction in difficult off-road conditions.

Pros and Cons of Four-Wheel Drive

In most cases, 4WD vehicles are the greatest option for navigating challenging terrain, whether on or off the road. Even though these systems are now available in well-appointed luxury vehicles and SUVs, at their core, they tend to be intended for toughness and maximum pulling power, and as a result, they are excellently suited for work and pleasure in challenging terrain.

These days, the design of four-wheel drive vehicles have both become progressively sophisticated. However, depending on the make and model, 4WD is frequently combined with a heavy-duty suspension, which results in a ride that is more bumpy and choppy than what you would experience in a car with either 2WD or AWD. These systems can also have a negative impact on the vehicle’s fuel economy and thus drive up the vehicle’s initial purchase price. 

4WD Is Superior to AWD in Snow 

You can always lose traction if you go past the boundaries of grip, regardless of whether you have four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive. This is the case even if you have all-wheel drive. When it comes to keeping your traction, the conditions of the road, your speed, and especially your tires all play a significant role. In addition, the amount of stopping distance you need to go increases in wet or snowy circumstances, regardless of the type of drive system your vehicle has. When driving in snowy or icy conditions, having a vehicle equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD) might provide you an edge, especially when it comes to getting traction. The additional expense of purchasing a four-wheel drive vehicle as opposed to an all-wheel drive one is something that should be carefully considered depending on how and where you want to use your vehicle.

In regions with colder climates, like Utah, the road conditions are more likely to change quickly. AWD systems that are able to immediately engage four-wheel torque are the greatest option for driving in these kinds of conditions. Even when left in the “automatic” or default mode, many modern AWD systems provide the driver the option of selecting a “snow” or “low traction” mode based on the current conditions of the road.

Which of These Drive Types Do You Need?

When deciding whether to rent a truck with all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, the time of year and conditions you will be driving in are the most important factors to consider. To reserve the rental truck you need, contact Rugged Rental today.