Front-Wheel Drive vs. Rear-Wheel Drive Vans

What you Need to Know

When it comes to buying a used van, you might be wondering – what’s the difference between front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive on a vehicle? Both have been an option on larger vans for quite a long time now and therefore it really is important to get your head around what’s what. Let’s delve deeper.

Front-wheel drive vans – the benefits

Front-wheel drive (FWD) vehicles transmit power from the engine to the front two wheels. There are many benefits to this design. Firstly, FWD vehicles tend to be cheaper to make and more cost-effective to buy than rear-wheel drive (RWD) alternatives. Secondly, the weight of the drivetrain is less than the weight of a RWD model, allowing FWD vehicles to travel further on the same amount of fuel.

With FWD vehicles, the weight of the engine and transmission is over the front two wheels providing more traction. Essentially, FWD vehicles are pushed rather than pulled making it easier to dislodge them from snowdrifts or challenging parking spaces. FWD also has impressive traction.

What’s also great about FWD models is that passenger space is often maximised as there’s no interior hump as with RWD vans which houses the driveshaft connecting the engine to the back wheels.

Front-wheel drive vans – the negatives

With added under-hood hardware, front-wheel drive vehicles tend to be nose heavy and can’t be turned as sharply. As the front wheels do all of the hard work, they often wear down quicker too and need to be checked regularly and replaced when necessary. While the traction is good, cornering can be a bit clumsy especially at faster speeds.

Rear-wheel drive vans – the benefits

In contrast to FWD vans, RWD models have an engine that drives the rear wheels only. Most rear-wheel vehicles have a longitudinally-mounted engine at the front – but what are the benefits? Well, thanks to the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout, RWD models have an excellent balance and weight distribution making handling a breeze. The layout is also considered more durable and can handle heavier engines than FWD alternatives. This is why it’s a common choice for pick-up trucks.

Rear-wheel drive vehicles are also better for towing as the front wheels can be steered more efficiently without all the extra weight on top of them. The additional rear weight also gives the back wheels more traction which is typically poorer than FWD models.

Rear-wheel drive vans – the negatives

Handling is precise and consistent, yet RWD vans tend to fishtail more easily, although modern chassis control systems are helping to alleviate this issue. Rear-wheel drive vehicles can also be more difficult to lug up steep hills as the pushing momentum is less effective than a pulling momentum in this scenario. Wheels can spin in certain situations such as being stuck in snow and mud. When tackling bad weather conditions, deep tread tires are advised.

Knowing all this now you are ready to go on a hunt for your next van. Check our available stock for many different types of pre-owned commercial vehicles.
Panel vans, minibuses, pick-ups, and tipper vans from the biggest makes are all available at great prices.

If you'd like to test drive one of the used vans for sale, have a look at our website to see what we have for you, and call us at our Essex dealership on 01279 216163. Ask us about our vans on finance and van contract hire offers too.