Subscribe to Fact of the Week

The production share of vehicles with all-wheel or 4-wheel drive has increased rapidly over the past 10 years, reaching 59% in 2022. All-wheel drive/4-wheel drive systems are popular because they can improve traction and handling performance, especially in inclement weather. But all-wheel drive/4-wheel drive systems have extra components that increase weight and mechanical friction, which can negatively impact fuel economy. However, manufacturers have made technological improvements to minimize the impact on overall vehicle efficiency.

In 1975, rear-wheel drive was the predominant drive type, installed on 91% of all light-duty vehicles produced. By 1985, front-wheel drive became the most common drive type and remained dominant until 2017. Since 2017, all-wheel drive/4-wheel drive has become the most common drive type.

Share of Light-Duty Vehicle Production by Drivetrain 1975-2022

Note: Data for 2022 are preliminary.

Sources: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, The 2022 EPA Automotive Trends Report, December 2022.

Conde, A., Christenson, M., and Richard, B., "Tailpipe Emissions and Fuel Economy for 2WD Vehicles and AWD Vehicles Tested on a Double-Axle Chassis Dynamometer: A Comparative Study," SAE Technical Paper 2016-01-2354, 2016, doi:10.4271/2016-01-2354.