What Does FWD Mean On a Car?

When you’re looking at cars, one of the first details you’ll probably notice is that almost all cars have a three-letter acronym for one of their most important traits, the kind of drivetrain they offer. 

FWD cars are some of the most common, and many people prefer FWD options over other styles. FWD stands for Front Wheel Drive, and FWD cars are relatively popular and efficient options. 

Many people look for more powerful options like AWD, All Wheel Drive, and 4WD, which stands for Four Wheel Drive. However, front-wheel-drive cars have some of the most natural-feeling performance and can have some serious advantages over the other kinds of drivetrains. If you're in the market for a new car or just want to learn a little more about the vehicle you already have, you’re in the right place. 

Advantages of an FWD Car

One of the main advantages of FWD drive is efficiency. Because the drivetrain of an FWD car can be smaller than others, they are also significantly lighter. Generally, they take up much less space in the undercarriage of the vehicle than other designs. 

That means that you get better gas efficiency overall thanks to the reduced weight of the vehicle. 

Another advantage of those smaller drivetrains is that they leave more room for other components of the car. FWD cars also tend to have more room on the interior because of that extra space. Some vehicles will use that space to give you more legroom in the cab, while others will pour a lot of the extra space into the vehicle’s trunk, so it has a higher capacity. 

FWD cars also usually have a smaller and more compact engine. Thankfully, that means greater efficiency, but it also adds to the vehicle’s lower weight and leaves more room under the hood for other components. 

Those smaller engines mean less weight resistance when you need to accelerate. That means that some FWD cars have less gas costs when accelerating, especially in town where acceleration is frequent, and speeds are lower. 

Driving a front-wheel-drive car also tends to come more naturally to most people than driving a rear-wheel-drive alternative since the wheels are closer to the driver. You're able to predict how the car will move while you're steering better, while rear-wheel drive can be more complicated to predict and control. 

The greater fuel efficiency of these cars is noticeable enough that they also tend to have a better MPG rating, and you’ll likely spend a lot less on gas compared to other kinds of vehicles. FWD is often the best option for people who do a lot of driving or go on a lot of long road trips and want to save a little more money on gas. 

One of the other core benefits of an FWD car is that they tend to have significantly better handling performance than different vehicle types. That's because of the better weight distribution making it easier to adjust the course of your car more simply. Driving is easier, as is maintaining control in poor weather conditions. Vehicle performance in an FWD car is significantly better in snow and rain or even on wet pavement. 

Disadvantages of an FWD Car

Of course, like all different drivetrain styles, there are a few disadvantages to having a front-wheel-drive vehicle. 

The biggest disadvantage is that FWD cars won’t move if the front tires don’t have traction. If your tires don’t have enough pressure or your front tires are on ice, you won’t be able to control your car nearly as well. Fortunately, the weight of the engine usually helps keep the weight of the vehicle on the front tires, reducing the chances of losing control because you don’t have enough traction. 

FWD is also generally less precise than rear-wheel drive, even though it's typically the easier option to drive and control. Rear-wheel drive separates the power driving your car, which is in the rear tires, from the steering in front. That means that rear-wheel-drive vehicles take some getting used to, but they also have much greater precision and control once you’ve gotten used to them. 

Front-wheel drive cars are also less powerful than all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive options on average. They handle relatively well and can handle a wide range of conditions, but they aren’t as powerful as AWD and 4WD. FWD also doesn’t offer as much traction or poor-terrain performance. 

Reasons to Buy an FWD Car

There are many reasons you might decide to go with a front-wheel-drive car, including just liking the design and handling of a particular model. But there are also quite a few reasons you might want to get an FWD car specifically, over all the other kinds of drivetrain. 

For instance, if you’re thinking about getting a new car for a novice driver, you might want to go with FWD. Since FWD is a relatively instinctive drivetrain to use, it's a safer option for new drivers. The smaller engine on FWD cars is also less powerful than most rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive cars. That means that your new driver is less likely to get in trouble with an FWD car thanks to better handling performance as well as slower overall acceleration. 

You might also prefer FWD in your new car if you’re looking for good fuel efficiency in your vehicle. FWD cars get consistently better performance when it comes to fuel efficiency, which means lower gas bills at the pump. That performance is more important when you drive quite a bit since it will save more money in the long run. However, it can also be important for new drivers who are just getting used to the added costs of having a car. 

FWD vehicles are also generally the best option for environmentalists, thanks to their lower carbon dioxide emissions. Greater fuel efficiency combined with lowered emissions makes these vehicles an excellent choice for people looking to drive more responsibly.