For those who live in the East Mountain community, which often experiences much more extreme weather conditions compared to the city on the western slopes of the Sandias, many people wonder: Should I buy a four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle? 


Well, that depends on the primary where and why of driving for you.


4WD vs AWD

Before looking for a 4WD vehicle, you should know whether it’s 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive you really need. Here’s an overview of the differences:




·         Rear-wheel drive is standard; 4WD must be turned on by the driver

·         AWD is always on and controlled by computer

·         Best for traction in rugged terrain and wet conditions

·         Best for traction on slick conditions—wet, snowy and/or icy roads

·         Mostly found on trucks and SUVs

·         Mostly found on cars


Both 4WD and AWD add weight to the vehicle and mechanical complexity, which can increase the lifetime cost of vehicle maintenance. Still, these features also add safety and capability on the road.


When to Consider 4WD

Four-wheel drive vehicles are best suited for:


·         Rugged terrain and/or off-road excursions, so if you are an avid outdoor enthusiast, your destinations may require 4WD capability.

·         Dangerous road conditions, like ice and snow, or travel on unpaved roads that may be covered in mud, loose gravel and/or standing water.


If your primary driving purpose is commuting between home and work on highly trafficked and well-maintained roads, 4WD is typically not recommended because of the higher initial costs as well as costs the add up from lower fuel efficiency and more expensive maintenance and repairs.


No matter what your daily drive and driving conditions look like, Unique Enterprises can help you find the quality used car—with or without 4WD (or AWD)—to suit you. View our inventory online or visit our lot in Moriarty for a test drive.