Is a 4WD Truck Actually Worth It?

Most truck buyers face one major question when purchasing a pickup, is it worth it to pay extra for four-wheel drive? Most of today’s trucks come standard with rear-wheel drive, but 4WD will give you added capability. Typically, adding 4WD to your pickup will increase the price by about $4,000. And to some, that premium might be worth it. Especially if you live in a place with inclement weather or you plan on doing some off-roading.

What is 4WD?

4WD is a feature commonly found on trucks and SUVs, the system delivers power to all four wheels. And that is something that is sought-after by off-road enthusiasts or those who just want more capability. A 4WD system will use transfer cases and couplings, which means each wheel can benefit from torque. Some more advanced vehicles may even feature locking differentials. 

Blue Ford F-150 Raptor Half-Ton Truck posed on the desert, it features standard 4WD.
Blue Ford F-150 Raptor Half-Ton Truck | Ford

4WD comes in two different types, full-time and part-time. Additionally, most feature low and high ranges allowing drivers to handle various situations. Because 4WD is more complex than RWD, if you want it on your truck, you do have to pay a premium. Although, according to Business Fleet, it has become cheaper to equip a truck with four-wheel drive. 

Do you need a 4×4 truck?

If you plan on doing any major off-roading or handling things like snow, a 4×4 truck can certainly come in handy. Models like the 2022 Nissan Frontier and 2022 Ford F-150 both offer 4WD as an option. Although, you will have to pay extra for it. At the same time, when you need 4WD, there’s really no alternative. 

The Ram 1500 Rebel with TRX appearance package and a naturally-aspirated V8 in red, racing along an off-road trail.
2022 Ram 1500 Rebel | Stellantis

Most mid-size and full-size trucks can come equipped with 4×4 systems. Some might be more capable than others, but for the most part, modern 4WD vehicles are fairly reliable. Plus, you can do things like shift-on-the-fly, which is a big improvement over what was offered in the past. 

Does 4WD help with towing?

Unfortunately, 4WD typically means a reduced towing capacity. You can also expect less fuel economy than you would get with a RWD truck. That said, you will probably be able to get to more places with a 4×4 pickup. And that is something that is likely to be appreciated. 

If you are towing something in mud, 4WD can certainly help. But in general, if you can switch power to go to the rear wheels, that is something that you should do. Additionally, if you are facing a steep incline or decline with low traction, shifting into 4WD is a good idea. 

Which is the best new truck to buy in 2022?

Simply put, the best truck to buy is the one that fits your needs. If you don’t need something big, the Frontier or Toyota Tacoma are both solid choices. For full-size truck needs, Ford and Ram have long been favored by pickup owners. 

A 2022 Nissan Frontier shows off its off-road capability as a mid-size truck.
Nissan Frontier | Nissan

Of course, buying a used pickup is also an option. But, if you go that route, you will want to conduct substantial research to ensure you aren’t buying a lemon. Over the years, each pickup truck has had good models and bad models. And generally speaking, folks have been able to weed out the good from the bad.

RELATED: When Should You Use Four-Low or Four-High on Your 4×4?