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How's This Work? Drivetrain

How's This Work? Drivetrain

What is a Drivetrain?

After skipping over last week’s How’s This Work, we thought we’d make it up to you by essentially answering two questions in one this week, as we’ll be looking at a pretty important technology. This week we’re going to look at the drivetrain, so answering what exactly that is will be the first question we answer. But as we answer that, you’ll come to learn it has a lot to do with things like all-wheel drive, so we’ll be looking at the differences between 2WD, 4WD, etc.

[ LAST TIME: What is Fuel Cell Technology? ]

So for starters, let’s give you the basic definition of what drivetrain is. Essentially, it is an umbrella term for all of the parts that send power from the engine to the wheels. This isn’t to be confused with the term powertrain, which combines the engine and drivetrain under one name. Basically the drivetrain includes things like the axles, the transmission, the torque converter and similar parts. There are four main drivetrain types that we see: front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. So let’s dive into those a bit.



Two-wheel drive (2WD) drivetrains are pretty self-explanatory. The engine is only sending power two wheels, either the front in a front-wheel drive (FWD) or the back in a rear-wheel drive vehicle.

4x4: 4WD vs AWD

In contrast to 2WD, 4x4 vehicles – which is an umbrella term fit to represent both drivetrains we’re about to describe – has power being sent to all four wheels. Four-wheel drive (4WD) drivetrains are generally reserved for off-road vehicles like the Honda Ridgeline. They often come equipped with a transfer case that allows for a maximum amount of torque to transfer to the axle. All-wheel drive works very similarly, sending power to all four wheels, but it is more associated with smaller vehicles like the Honda Accord, enabling them to perform better in poor driving conditions like our Edmonton winters.

[ READ MORE: Which Honda models are all-wheel drive? ]

Hopefully these descriptions give you a better understanding of the four main drivetrain layouts, but if you still have questions feel free to give us a call. We’d also be happy to tell you exactly which Honda vehicles are available with each type of drivetrain.

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