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Are Any Minivans Four-Wheel Drive? (All Wheel Drive?)

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Buying a minivan (or any vehicle really) is going to be a huge investment. So you need to think carefully before buying any model. This is especially true if you are looking for a specific feature such as four wheel drives 

It’s extremely important to check if the model is perfect in terms of comfort, manoeuvrability, power, fuel cost, and reliability. Above all, the level of safety provided by the vehicle is of the utmost importance to virtually all buyers. 

There are currently no four wheel drive minivans available on the market. The next best thing that is offered on minivans is all wheel drive. There are currently two new minivans that can be purchased with all wheel drive and those are: 

  • Toyota Sienna 
  • Chrysler Pacifica

If you are looking at a used model there are a variety of older minivans that came with all wheel drive but unfortunately there are not any that have ever been produced with four wheel drive. 

AWD vehicles power the back and front wheels. In today’s time, minivans are integrated with either full-time AWD systems or part-time AWD machinery. Minivans have been in use for years, but never has this vehicle with a 4WD system been launched. It’s sad to know that despite having so many varieties of minivans available, there isn’t a single brand that delivers minivans with 4WD. 

The main reason that only AWD minivans have been produced and not 4WD is that all wheel drive is actually better for getting traction on paved roads while four wheel drive is better for use off road. Since minivans all have a low clearance then they are not really a good candidate for off road use even if they came with four wheel drive. 

Before you decide to buy any minivan model, you should do a thorough research of each of the ones that are currently on the market, and weigh their pros and cons individually and see if the features you want are even available on ANY minivans. You should always try to consider your family’s needs and preferences before making your final decision. 

To learn a bit more about 4WD and AWD systems you can keep reading. You can also check out the video below to see some of the main differences between the two as well. 

What’s 4WD? 

4WD, short for four-wheel drive, denotes a 4×4 drivetrain. The main difference between 4WD and AWD lies in the fact that the former is capable of sending power to the rear and front axles besides being able to send a certain amount of fuel energy between right and left wheels. Precisely, 4WD systems are designed to provide users with maximum off-road prowess. 

Large, robust, truck-based vehicles are generally integrated with 4WD systems. Some vehicles are integrated with 4WD systems that have an automatic switch. This switch helps the vehicle to change its system while driving from 2WD to 4WD whenever drivers wish to. If the sensor present in the vehicle detects any slippery surface on the front wheels, the control would automatically be shifted to the back wheels. If you are driving in worse climatic conditions, this mechanism brings in more stability, allowing the driver to concentrate on driving the vehicle. 

Vehicles equipped with 4WD get better traction and stability while driving off-road. Hence, they provide travellers with better experiences. However, with technologies becoming more advanced day by day, even minivans having AWD systems typically provide the same amount of stability and traction as 4WD integrated vehicles do. 

What is AWD?

AWD, the acronym for all-wheel drive is a drivetrain term that denotes the direction of the torque from the engine of the vehicle to the rear and front axles and all the four wheels through differentials. Now, AWD systems are of various types, and different minivan producing companies have integrated their vehicles with different AWD systems. 

The AWD system is of two types: part-time AWD and full-time AWD. As is clear from the terms, the former examines the road conditions and driving pattern to decide if directing torque to the front and rear axle makes sense, whereas the latter sends torque to the rear and front axle all of the time. 

What benefits do you get from AWD minivans? 

What more do you need for an ideal family-friendly vehicle other than a minivan with flexible seating arrangements, enough cargo-carrying capacity, and additional grip provided by the AWD system!

In most SUVs and minivans, the AWD mechanism has become as important as air conditioning systems and USB ports. When you have to travel with bad weather conditions, a lot of drivers refuse to drive if the vehicle isn’t equipped with AWD as it provides additional traction and stability to the vehicle. Even if your vehicle doesn’t come with this system, it surely has other benefits like high cargo-carrying capacity, enough space, comfort, and whatnot. 

Minivans have less height, which makes them a bit safer when compared to SUVs. However, the sad news is, if you are looking for a minivan integrated with the AWD system, you would be left with limited options to choose from as currently there are only two main minivans that come with the AWD option, the Toyota Sienna and the Chrysler Pacifica. 

Similar to 4WD systems, even AWD systems have certain benefits. I will mention a few of these below.

  • Delivers additional traction

AWD systems are proven to enhance the traction of the vehicle. It facilitates each of the wheels to spin properly when driven through slippery surfaces or bad weather. While driving, if both your wheels become stuck, AWD systems can be the only way to get out. 

  • Increases the resale value of the vehicle

Most minivans equipped with AWD systems have a higher resale value than the ones having only a 2 wheel drive system. When it comes to selling AWD equipped minivans, you can easily get a lot of prospective buyers since they are able to be used in a variety of additional ways and weather conditions without worrying as much. 

  • Makes driving easier

If you possess an AWD integrated minivan, you don’t have to worry about running into bad weather. No matter if you are driving through a heavy rain storm or heavy snow or even strong wind, the AWD system will make sure the traction and stability of the vehicle are maintained. 

Which is Better: AWD or 4WD?

Now that you have a detailed idea about both the systems, it’s time for you to decide which of the two systems you prefer. The most frequently asked questions by people is which of the two systems is better and more efficient.

Sadly, there isn’t any solid answer to this question. 

The aptness and suitability of these two systems vary from person to person as it depends on your needs and preferences. Generally speaking, if you have to drive through bad weather conditions, going for an AWD integrated vehicle is better. Whereas if you have to travel through rugged off-road conditions, choosing a 4WD vehicle would be more useful. 


If you are looking for a 4WD integrated minivan in today’s market, unfortunately you won’t find one. 

The best solution currently available would be to buy a good quality AWD integrated vehicle, which comes with advanced features. That’s by far the best option available. 

However, apart from everything else, it’s important to buy a vehicle that suits your family’s needs and requirements. The safety and comfort of your family are important here so be sure and weigh the pros and cons of every vehicle and do your research before you choose any model as well. 

Always remember that even without 4WD systems, minivans are safe, efficient, and are great all around cars.