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Difference Between RWD and FWD

nissan_xterraRWD vs. FWD

In order to propel 4-wheeled vehicles like cars, only two of the four wheels need to be powered; either the front (FWD, or Front Wheel Drive) or the rear (RWD, or Rear Wheel Drive). That is the basic difference between the two, and all other differences are a result of this fundamental concept.

The pushing force behind FWD vehicles is to maximize efficiency by minimizing the weight of the vehicle. Since the front tires are the ones closest to the engine, powering it removes a lot of components that are needed to transfer the power to the rear of the vehicle. FWD vehicles also gain the added benefit of a larger interior, as RWD vehicles need to allocate space below the passenger compartment for those components.

RWD vehicles are generally more balanced in terms of weight distribution. The parts in the transmission system of a RWD vehicle make the weight distribution a little bit more even. FWD vehicles have all the weight concentrated on the front-end, as it holds the engine, along with the transmission assembly for the wheels. This was thought of as an advantage, as the heavier weight meant that the front wheels had a lot more traction, but with today’s smarter cars, this has become less of a factor.

A problem with the heavy front-end of FWD vehicles is the lack of control. The control issue becomes more apparent when driving and cornering at high speeds. RWD vehicles are much better in this aspect, as the balanced weight distribution allows the vehicle to be a lot more predictable, even at high speeds. FWD vehicles are also unable to perform a rather unnecessary, but quite ‘cool-looking’ maneuver, called drifting. Drifting is driving while the rear tires are sliding on the road, but the driver still has control of the vehicle, by skillfully controlling the front wheels and the accelerator. Since the front wheels of a FWD vehicle are used for both driving the vehicle and steering, this maneuver is virtually impossible.


1. RWD vehicles are propelled via the rear wheels, while FWD vehicles are propelled via the front tires.

2. RWD vehicles are heavier compared to FWD vehicles.

3. RWD vehicles often have less interior space compared to FWD vehicles.

4. RWD vehicles are more balanced compared to the front-heavy FWD.

5. RWD vehicles allow for better control compared to FWD vehicles.

6. RWD vehicles are able to drift, while FWD vehicles cannot.

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  1. well done i have been dying to know the difference. thank you. keep up the good work

  2. RWD Vehicles however they made be well controlled in DRY temperatures have a HIGH tendency to “Drift” in Wet/ Icy Conditions much more then FWD Cars. So people in RWD Vehicles need to be careful if they do not know how to control the vehicle when it beging to “Drift”

  3. Anyone knows what is the difference in gearbox of FWD or RWD ?

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