Most of us getting new cars just get them because of how they look, how much they cost or just because a friend has one.
We do not pay attention to some insignias we see in the trunk lid which could affect our lifestyle in so many ways.
We see AWD and 4WD all the time, but we do not know what they mean and/or that they are very different. They are an indicator of the type of drive train the vehicle has and there are several others apart from these.
They are FF, FR, MR, RR, AWD & 4WD.
FF(Front Engine, Front Wheel Drive)
This is the most commonly used of all, complex, fragile but light, easy to assemble and very fuel efficient. High traction at low speeds and good control when cornering. You would find these on a lot of cheap economy class cars that are for everyday use e.g. Toyota Corolla
FR(Front Engine, Rear Wheel Drive)
This setup is used for cars that tend towards performance more than economy.
It is a little complex to assemble, really durable (usually outlives the car with proper service).
It is slightly heavier than the FF drivetrain, it is often used in luxury and sports cars, e.g. Mercedes Maybach, Ford Mustang.
RR (Rear Engine, Rear Wheel drive)
This drivetrain is rarely used, fairly easy to assemble, durable, kinda light, excellent low speed traction and efficient though because of the rear weight bias it can be tough to steer at high speeds.
MR (Mid-Engine, Rear Wheel drive)
Examples for RR are the Volkswagen Beetle and most transit buses.
The MR platform is very similar to the RR platform with the difference being that the engine is mounted between the 2 axles. This arrangement centers the weight distribution of the car and gives better handling and acceleration while still proffering efficiency. But because of this unique set up this drivetrain is usually used in 2 seater sport coupés, e.g. Lamborghini Gallardo, Ford GT.
The last 2 setups are very similar and also very different(so much so it gets to be discussed as a topic of its own).
4WD & AWD
They are both heavy(with AWD weighing slightly less) and are preferred in situations where traction/performance outweighs economy. This setup could have a varying engine position that drives all the wheels when it is necessary providing increased traction for muddy, snowy, sandy conditions where grip is important.
A few examples are the Toyota Hilux(4WD), Nissan Pathfinder (4WD), Subara Impreza(AWD), Audi A4 Quattro(AWD).
I’d be discerning the difference between AWD and 4WD in the topic.
Hopefully this helps you choose the drive train that most suits your lifestyle and environment.
Have a nice day.