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There’s an age-old question when it comes to pickup trucks, at least ones from the modern era. Do you need 2WD or 4WD for your truck? And the answer is: it varies. Depending on the needs you have from your pickup and where you live, you might not actually need a 4×4 truck. At the same time, there are definitely times when a four-wheel drive pickup truck can be an invaluable thing to have. 

What does 4WD mean on a truck?

If you see a 4WD badge on a truck, it likely means that the vehicle is equipped with a four-wheel drive system. Most modern trucks offer some form of optional 4×4. Although, it is a system that you have to pay extra for. 

For about as long as cars have been around, so has some form of 4WD. Now, it’s a system that most truck owners seek out for their vehicles. 

4WD can make your truck more capable

In terms of being able to handle things like off-roading and inclement weather, 4WD certainly helps. Because you have power going to all four wheels, you can tackle harsh conditions. Although, you’ll want to ensure you have a good set of tires in order to do so. 

The 2023 Nissan Frontier shows off its 4x4 capability.
2023 Nissan Frontier | Nissan

At the same time, having a 4×4 truck can impact towing capacity. According to Autotrader, pickups with 4WD usually have slightly less towing capacity than their 2WD counterparts. That trade-off might be worth it if you don’t tow heavy materials that often. 

Do any trucks have all-wheel drive?

Instead of 4WD, some trucks do come with AWD. These models include the Ford Maverick, Honda Ridgeline, and Hyundai Santa Cruz. Usually, 4WD is seen as the more robust system to have. But in a lot of cases, AWD can handle things just fine. 

The 2023 Ford Maverick has been named one of Consumer Reports' Top Ten Picks for 2023.
2023 Ford Maverick Tremor | Ford

If you look at something like a Toyota Tacoma or Ford F-150, those trucks come with 4WD. That means a truck like that gets torque to all of its wheels simultaneously. Now, some 4WD systems are different than others. There are full-time systems or on-demand systems, depending on which truck you are looking at. 

4WD comes at a cost

If you are interested in a 4WD truck, you will be paying extra over a truck with 2WD. And that is simply because 4WD is more expensive to have, and it is a sought-after feature. Most folks opt to get a truck because they are seen as capable and utilitarian. And that is something that 4WD brings to the table. 

Depending on the truck you go for, the price of 4WD will vary. But, even on the used market, this feature does command a premium. So, if you are hoping to get a pickup truck, you should consider whether or not you really need something with 4×4 capability. 

If you don’t, you might be able to save some money by getting a 2WD truck. Even if that does mean making some sacrifices in terms of things like off-road ability. Plus, you might have to make some adjustments when driving in snowy conditions. 

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