When it comes to talking about cars, we gearheads love to use acronyms. We refer to All-Wheel Drive systems as AWD, Anti-Lock brakes are called ABS, and CVT stands for Continous Variable Transmission. The meanings of most of these acronyms are relatively well-known. However, the same can’t be said for 4D, as many people don’t have a clue about its true meaning. Have you also ever wondered “What does 4D mean on a car?” Today, we will answer that question once and for all.
Part of the confusion around the term “4D” has arisen due to people using that word in reference to a number of systems on a vehicle. Not only gearheads, but car manufacturers are guilty of this misuse as well.
In this article, we hope to clear the doubts around this term once and for all. Let’s start off by taking a look at one of the areas where people use the term 4D. We are of course talking about the doors of a car.
What Does 4D Mean On A Car – Doors
One of the most popular usages of the term 4D is to refer to vehicles that have four doors. This is especially done by non-car enthusiasts. In the same way, 2D is used to refer to vehicles that come with two doors.
You might come across 4D and 2D when shopping for a vehicle. Usually, you’ll spot sedans and SUVs being marketed as 4D vehicles.
In contrast, the vehicles which are marketed as 2D are typically exotic and sports cars.
When comparing four-door and two-door vehicles, we can clearly see that each has its own pros and cons. First up, let’s take a look at the advantages offered by a 4D car.
1. 4D Cars
If you are looking to purchase a vehicle that can safely carry the whole family around town, a 4D car is the one to get. Having four doors allows passengers to easily enter and exit the vehicle.
Additionally, most 4D vehicles can comfortably seat five passengers. Some four-door SUVs take the seating capacity even further, allowing up to seven passengers to sit inside with the availability of a third row.
2. 2D Cars
On the other hand, 2D cars are the best choice if you are looking for a vehicle to go on a Sunday drive and have some fun.
Advantages Of 2D Cars #1 – Speed And Handling
Not only that but having only two doors also allows 2D cars to be lighter than 4D ones. Paired with a shorter wheelbase, this makes 2D cars a joy to drive. The driver can feel everything that’s going on with the vehicle and has total control of braking and acceleration.
The smaller body dimensions of a 2D car give them razor-sharp handling, which makes them a favorite for gearheads. All these factors combined make 2D cars the fastest option if you want to take a trip around your local racetrack in a hurry.
Advantages Of 2D Cars #2 – Efficiency
As we discussed earlier, 2D cars are smaller and lighter than 4D ones. As a result, two-door cars are more fuel efficient. This allows you to travel further on a tank of fuel. Not only that, but the carbon footprint of the vehicle will be less compared to a four-door, which is great for the environment.
Advantages Of 2D Cars #3 – Ease Of Use
Because they only have two doors, 2D vehicles tend to be more compact than four-door sedans and SUVs. Due to this reason, they are easier to live with. Our readers who live in large cities will surely appreciate this, as you’ll be able to find a parking space for a 2D car much easier as well.
Furthermore, some cities offer special parking just for compact cars. If you are a person that struggles to park your vehicle, you might want to look into buying a 2D car.
Advantages Of 2D Cars #4 – Cheap Maintenance
Washing and maintaining a two-door car is much easier than caring for a huge vehicle with four doors. If you are on a budget and don’t need seating space for many people, we recommend you consider purchasing a 2D car in place of a 4D one.
Now you know why people use 4D as a term when referring to the number of doors on a vehicle. Next, let’s look at another area where this term is used. Can you guess what system we are talking about? If you guessed the “transmission system”, congratulations! You deserve a pat on the back.
4D In The Transmission
When you ask someone “what does 4D mean on a car?”, the chances of them talking about the transmission are very likely. In this case, they are referring to vehicles with an automatic transmission.
As you might already know, there are two main types of transmission systems used in modern cars. The first one is the tried and tested manual transmission. This beloved technology is popular among car enthusiasts because it leaves changing gears up to the drivers themselves. In other words, selecting gears in a vehicle with a manual transmission (to find out more, check out our guide on what’s inside of a manual transmission) should be done by the driver using the gear shifter.
On the other hand, we have automatic transmissions. Here, the vehicle does all the shifting automatically. So, all the driver has to do in an automatic car is to accelerate, brake, and steer the vehicle to follow the road.
Automatic vehicles have a gear selector in order for the driver to select the gear. Usually, these gears a labeled with a sequence of numbers and letters like 1, 2, D, P, R, and N. Here, P stands for “Park”, N means “Neutral”, and D stands for “Drive”.
However, this naming scheme is not unanimous in the car industry. Some vehicles come with gears named P, R, N, 4-D, 3, and 2-L. Here the 4D is a combination of “Drive” and “4th gear“.
Additionally, it is important to note that the 4th gear acts as an overdrive gear in some vehicles as well. Do you know what overdrive is? If not, follow along to the next section of this article.
What Is Overdrive
As we said, some vehicles use 4D to indicate the overdrive gear. This system is available in both automatic and manual transmission vehicles. You might think that overdrive is some kind of performance upgrade that makes a vehicle faster when it is engaged. However, this couldn’t be far from the truth. In fact, the main goal of this system is to reduce the fuel consumption of a vehicle and to increase its efficiency.
Overdrive is the highest gear in an automatic transmission, and it is marked as 4D in some vehicles. It is meant to be used only when cruising at high speeds, typically around 50 mph or greater. When a vehicle is shifted to 4D / Overdrive, its performance and top speed are decreased in the name of saving fuel. In addition, after shifting to overdrive, the vehicle will be much easier to control. Because of this, this is considered great gear to be in on those long and exhausting highway drives.
Another benefit of overdrive is causing less environmental pollution. When the vehicle is in this gear, the combustion cycle inside the engine is optimized. In return, the amount of toxic exhaust produced is vastly reduced. Reducing the cabin noise is another added advantage of 4D / Overdrive.
However, there are some disadvantages of overdrive as well. Generally, vehicles that come with this feature command a premium over ones that don’t have it. You should also be prepared to pay a costly repair bill in case the overdrive transmission develops an issue or the vehicle breaks down.
In short, 4D / Overdrive can be a great way to save fuel for a vehicle, as long as you are prepared to pay the repair bills and higher initial cost. Or, you could also check out our deep dive into whether does driving faster use more gas.
What Does 4D Mean On A Car – 4D Vs 4WD
When looking at what 4D means in a car, we can’t skip over the term 4WD. You see, 4D and 4WD are two terms that many gearheads often confuse with each other. You might have also heard these terms being used interchangeably. But, these two acronyms refer to completely different systems on a vehicle.
4WD stands for four-wheel drive. It is a two-axled vehicle drivetrain that provides torque and power to both the front and rear vehicles of a vehicle. In a 4WD system, both the front and rear driveshafts are locked together. This allows the engine to power both axles at the same time, improving the traction.
Four-wheel drive systems can mostly be found on vehicles that haul heavy loads, and on ones that are made to tackle the toughest of terrains.
Owners of these vehicles prefer 4WD systems because it gives ample traction on a variety of surfaces like snow, sand, and even mud.
Unlike an AWD system, 4WD should be manually engaged by the driver. This is done by pushing a dedicated button or a switch. Usually, 4WD should only be turned on while you are trekking offroad. If the system is turned on during normal road conditions, the additional traction might make the vehicle harder to turn.
Some 4WD systems provide a solution to this issue in the form of “high” and “low” gears. The high gears are more suited to on-road driving while the low gears provide maximum traction off-road. The driver is free to select them as desired, depending on the road condition.
What Is AWD
AWD is another term that comes up when we are talking about the differences between 4D and 4WD. AWD stands for all-wheel-drive, and it operates in a similar way to 4WD. However, there are some key differences between the two systems.
Unlike 4WD, all-wheel drive systems are fully automated and do not require driver input to turn it on or off. However, some AWD systems come with a few modes that enable drivers to select the amount of power that goes through each axle.
All-wheel drive systems are made up of a series of components. These include differentials, multi-plate clutches, and viscous couplings. All these parts work together to deliver power to each wheel, providing maximum traction at all times.
We can identify two variations of AWD across the current automotive landscape. They are,
- Part-time AWD
- Full-time AWD
What Does 4D Mean On A Car #1 – Part-time AWD
As the name suggests, a vehicle with part-time AWD sends power to all four wheels only when it is deemed necessary by the onboard computers. Under normal circumstances, the system only powers to a single axle. This can either be the front or rear, and it varies depending on the make and model of the vehicle.
The part-time AWD system scans the road condition through various sensors placed throughout the vehicle. When the system detects a reduction in traction, it automatically engages and sends power to all four wheels of the vehicle. Most modern crossovers and some sedans come with part-time AWD capability.
What Does 4D Mean On A Car #2 – Full-time AWD
More off-road-focused SUVs and pickup trucks come with full-time AWD systems where all front and rear wheels are powered at all times. Many consider Audi’s legendary Quattro AWD system to be the one that popularized this technology.
Full-time AWD systems have an edge over part-time AWD systems both on and off the road. On paved roads, vehicles with full-time AWD can put down the power to the ground much easier. In return, it improves the handling of the vehicle by a significant margin.
On off-road trails, full-time AWD systems help to get traction quicker when compared with part-time systems as well. While part-time AWD is good enough for most people, you’ll need a vehicle with full-time AWD if you are planning to take regular trips off the beaten path.
Along with 4D, 4WD, and AWD, you might have also heard the terms 4×4 and 4×2. If you are keen on learning what they mean, follow us along to the next section.
What Does 4D Mean On A Car – 2WD
Similar to how 4WD stood for four-wheel drive, 2WD stands for two-wheel drive. Most affordable modern cars come with 2WD drivetrains, where only one of the axles is powered by the engine. However, selecting the axle which receives power is up to the manufacturers.
Vehicles that are meant to be used on the road all the time typically come with front-wheel drive. In FWD vehicles, the front wheels are responsible for a whole host of activities including steering and accelerating. This is the most common 2WD implementation in the current market, and it is for good reason.
In an FWD vehicle, the engine and drive wheels sit almost next to each other. As a result, there is minimal energy wastage which increases the efficiency of the vehicle. Additionally, the weight of the engine pressing down on the front wheels at all times improves the vehicle’s traction too.
Here’s a fun fact for you, most modern 4D vehicles come with FWD out of the factory!
However, if you are looking for a 2WD vehicle that is fun to drive, you should go ahead and purchase an RWD vehicle. RWD was the more popular 2WD implementation in the early days of motoring. But, with the rise of FWD, nowadays RWD is limited to sports cars and powerful 4D sedans.
RWD cars are beloved by gearheads due to their handling characteristics. As the power is sent only to the rear wheels, drifting around a corner is far easier in an RWD vehicle. With modern advancements in safety technologies like traction control, RWD vehicles have become just as safe as their 4WD and AWD counterparts too.
When compared with other drivetrain systems, there are some areas where 2WD exceeds the competition. Let’s take a more in-depth look at them, shall we?
Advantages of 2WD
One of the key advantages of 2WD vehicles is their ease of maintenance. When compared with complex 4WD and AWD systems, 2WD drivetrains only have a handful of components. Additionally, the parts of a 2WD system are packaged into a smaller area when compared to 4WD or AWD systems. So, when the time comes for a repair, you only need to dismantle a small area of the vehicle.
Another area where 2WD shines over 4WD systems is handling. These systems are lightweight and feel more responsive at the hands of the driver. The handling characteristics are predictable, which makes driving easier for even novice drivers. Furthermore, RWD cars give skilled drivers the capability to drift, adding to the joy of driving.
Having superior fuel efficiency, being lighter, allowing for efficient manufacturing, and allowing for even weight distribution are some other benefits two-wheel drive vehicles have over ones with 4WD or AWD.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to get a 2WD, 4WD, or AWD vehicle should depend solely on what you plan to do with the vehicle. If all you need to do is to cruise around the city in comfort, get a two-wheel-drive vehicle. On the other hand, if you plan to go on off-road adventures often, get one with 4WD. However, if what you are looking for is a mixture of on-road and off-road performance, a car with AWD will serve you just fine.
Conclusion For What Does 4D Mean On A Car
In this article, we took an in-depth look at the question “What does 4D mean on a car?”. Most commonly, the term 4D is in reference to a vehicle with four doors. Sedans, SUVs, and even pickup trucks come under the category of 4D vehicles.
Sometimes, you will spot 4D printed on the gear lever. Here, it refers to the fourth gear, which is the highest gear in some vehicles. Moreover, some vehicles with automatic transmission use 4D to refer to the overdrive gear, which is designed to save fuel when cruising at highway speeds.
On the other hand, some might confuse 4D for 4WD, which stands for four-wheel drive. This is a system found in tough off-roaders. AWD or all-wheel-drive is another system similar to 4WD, where the vehicle’s computer takes care of the operation.
Similar to 4WD, 2WD refers to vehicles where only one axle receives power from the engine. Although they aren’t capable as 4WD or AWD cars, 2WD are the most affordable and most fuel-efficient vehicles on our roads today.
FAQs On What Does 4D Mean On A Car
What Does SUV Stand For
SUV stands for Sports Utility Vehicle. These massive vehicles have become best sellers in the current market due to their tough looks, spacious interiors, and high driving position they provide. Most SUVs are 4D vehicles, meaning they have four doors for the passenger to enter and exit the vehicle.
What Does L Mean On A Car
In the transmission of a vehicle, L stands for Low. You should shift into the L gear when you want the speed to remain low while the engine produces a high power output. Drivers should shift into L when towing heavy loads, descending steep mountains, and when driving through adverse weather conditions.
What Does The S Mean On A Gear Shift
In vehicles with automatic transmissions, the S on the gear shifter stands for Sport. You can shift into this mode for a more dynamic driving experience. Usually, shifting into S will make the throttle more responsive while simultaneously making your vehicle sound sportier.
What Does All Wheel Drive Mean
All-wheel drive or AWD means that all four wheels of a vehicle are powered by the engine. Unlike 4WD systems, the power distribution of AWD is entirely done by the vehicle’s computer. As a result, it does not require the driver to take any action.
What Does 4×4 Mean
In a 4×4 vehicle, the engine can deliver power to all four wheels, which allows the vehicle to get maximum traction in slippery conditions. Both 4WD and AWD are 4×4 systems. In contrast, 4×2 vehicles only have one set of powered axles. These vehicles are also referred to as 2WD.