For drivers in some parts of the U.S., owning a 4WD or AWD vehicle is less of a choice and more of a necessity. These vehicles are chosen for their ability to handle winter weather and rough terrain. In these areas, car owners prioritize performance over the fuel efficiency offered by 2WD vehicles.
There can be confusion over the differences between 4WD and AWD. For drivers, the biggest difference is how much they have to engage with the vehicle. In a nutshell, AWD vehicles automatically send power to all four wheels. With 4WD vehicles, drivers can choose if they want the vehicle to operate in 2WD or 4WD mode.
One thing both types of vehicles do is drive well in snowy conditions. AWD and 4WD vehicles provide traction that 2WD vehicles cannot. AWD and 4WD vehicles also have off-road capabilities, which are necessary for farm and ranch work, dirt roads, or even some weekend camping.
Ten states with the most 4WD and AWD Vehicles
iSeeCars did a little research and discovered the 10 states with the most 4WD and AWD vehicles.
- Montana, 71.8%
- Alaska, 70.9%
- Wyoming, 70.1%
- North Dakota, 67.8%
- Vermont, 67.8%
- South Dakota, 66.1%
- West Virginia, 65.7%
- Maine, 65.7%
- Colorado, 64.7%
- Idaho, 63.4%
Most of these states have two things in common: snowy winters and rough terrain. 4WD and AWD vehicles offer several advantages over their 2WD counterparts.
4WD and AWD vehicles handle snow better
It’s probably no surprise that all of these states lie in the northern half of the U.S. Most of these states experience long, cold winters. In parts of Montana, the No. 1 state on the list, there is measurable snow as early as September. By October, winter is in full swing in the rest of the Rocky Mountain states, like No. 9 Colorado and No. 10 Idaho.
Overall, the Ford F-150 is one of the most driven pickups in the U.S., and no doubt there’s more than a few on the road in the Rockies. The Fast Lane Car did a road test during a Colorado snowstorm, putting an F-150 head to head with a Subaru Outback.
Both vehicles handle the snow pretty well, leaving the car versus truck debate a matter of personal opinion.
Off-roading is possible with 4WD and AWD vehicles
Most of these states have wide-open spaces. Residents love to take advantage of the natural beauty, but not everyone is suited to long hikes and backcountry camping.
Maine, No. 8, may be one of the smaller states on this list, but it still boasts an impressive half a million acres of public land. A 4WD or AWD vehicle will get you where you want to go in the Pine Tree State. 4WD and AWD vehicles make it possible to go car camping, which may be an attractive option for families with younger children.
4WD and AWD vehicles offer dependability
Alaska, No. 2, is known as the Last Frontier, and it certainly lives up to its name. Area-wise, Alaska is by far the largest state. However, it’s also one of the least populated. Likewise, North Dakota, No. 4, is also sparsely populated.
Getting stranded in either of these states is no joke. In some cases, help could be miles away. Alaskans and North Dakotans need vehicles that can handle any road conditions. According to Insurify, more drivers in Alaska, as well as Montana, Wyoming and trust the Ford Explorer to get them around.
Anyone who’s driven around West Virginia, No. 7, can tell you the roads are like a roller coaster ride. This state lies entirely in the Appalachians. Traction on these winding roads is important and 4WD, and AWD vehicles deliver on dependability.