All Wheel Drive (AWD) or Four Wheel Drive (4WD), refers to a setup where the power from the engine is distributed to rotate all four wheels.
All-wheel drive systems tend to be heavier than front- or rear-wheel drive systems. Added weight in a car means that the engine needs to work harder to move the car, which is less efficient. This is the reason that you will often see an all-wheel drive version of a car have worse fuel economy than a two-wheel drive version of the same car.
The terms AWD and 4WD are often used interchangeably, and while they are often similar there tends to be some key differences.
All-Wheel Drive (AWD) systems are normally found in more road-focused cars where the driver wants the added benefit of better traction and stability.
Four-Wheel Drive (4WD) systems are normally found in more off-road-focused SUVs and pickups and tend to be more robust to handle rugged terrain. Often this can mean cars with 4WD aren’t as comfortable on-road.