Ford F-150: Head to Head - 2WD vs. 4WD

When you are buying a Ford F-150, you are faced with the 2WD or 4WD choice. The choice could be obvious to you, but if it's not, we can help.

By Brett Foote - October 6, 2014

This article applies to the Ford F-150 (2004-2014).

No other debate is as heated among truck owners as the battle of 2WD vs. 4WD. Typically owners sway one way or another and devoutly defend their choice. But which side of the fence should you fall on? The true answer is, each serves its own unique purpose, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Which one you ultimately choose should be based on what you are going to use the truck for, and what makes the most sense for your unique situation. Let's take a look at the differences between 2WD and 4WD, and what makes either one a good choice.

    • Figure 1. Ford F-150 2WD.
    • Figure 2. Ford F-150 4WD.

2WD4WD
Price
  • Lower up front cost
  • Lower resale value, especially in aread where 4WD is popular or needed
  • Higher cost, upwards of $3,500 to add on
  • Added resale value, especially in places where 4WD are popular
Gas Mileage
  • Slightly better fuel economy (15 mpg city, 21 highway)
  • Lower fuel cost overtime
  • Lower fuel economy that can add a couple of hundred dollars in fuel costs each year (14 mpg city, 19 highway)

Maintenance

  • Less maintenance
  • More maintenance: 4WD differentials require oil changes (every 30,000 miles or 24 months)
Acceleration
  • Acceleration not as good as in inclement weather
  • No difference in street acceleration
  • Better acceleration, especially in inclement weather
  • No difference in street acceleration
Towing
  • Less traction and towing capabilities, especially in inclement weather
  • Helps with traction and towing, especially in slippery or sandy conditions

Gas Mileage

One of the biggest differences you will notice between a comparable 2WD and 4WD Ford F-150 is the gas mileage each achieves. The fact of the matter is, the extra weight of a 4WD will cost you a couple of MPG's. A 2014 F-150 with 4WD and the 5.0 V8 is rated at 14 mpg city, 19 highway. The same model in 2WD is rated 15 mpg city, 21 highway. This may not seem like much of a difference, but it certainly adds up over the life of a vehicle. In fact, if you pay $3.75 per gallon, the difference between 14 and 15 mpg over the course of 100,000 miles is $4,000!

Suspension

You may have also noticed that a 4WD F-150 sits higher than a 2WD. This is because the suspensions are different, and the 4WD has longer spindles and struts. It's a fairly simple difference, but one that contributes to the added weight of a 4WD along with the extra differential and transfer case. In the old days, 4WD trucks had a reputation for a rough ride. In modern trucks, however, ride quality is about the same between the two.

Price

You will pay more for those extra components when you purchase the truck as well. A 2014 F-150 XLT 2WD model stickers for around $31,895, while the same model in 4WD has a sticker price of $33,745. This $1,850 price difference can grow to almost $3,500 depending on which model you select.

Tires

Most people have an image of huge, knobby, noisy tires when they picture a 4WD truck. But tire technology has come a long way, and the ones you get from Ford are just as quiet as those on the 2WD and they handle all types of weather conditions.

So which one is right for you? If you drive strictly on paved roads and live in Southern California, by all means save yourself the money and get a 2WD. If you live on the side of a mountain in Colorado and tow a trailer frequently, go for the 4WD. Even if you only plan on taking the occasional ski trip, you may just be better off renting a 4WD for special occasions. The money you save in upfront costs and fuel will be well worth it over time. But if you live in an area known for its beloved harsh winters, spending the extra coin for a 4WD will make your commute safer and easier.

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