What is the difference between an AWD and 4WD vehicle?

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4WD = Low range and High Range gearing
AWD = Only high range gearing
Part-time 4WD: No centre differential. Cannot be used on dry/wet, semi-slippery roads due to the lack of the centre differential. When activated, both front and rear axles are physically locked to each other and have to spin at the same rate. This becomes a problem when turning on sufficiently high friction surfaces. Examples: Suzuki SUVs, most 4WD pickup trucks, cheaper SUVs.
Permanent 4WD:. No two wheel drive mode. System is equipped with a centre differential, and hence is safe to use on all surfaces. All four wheels are powered all of the time (usually 50/50 front and rear axles). This is arguably the best system since the torque split ratio does not change and is the most predictable. All wheels "help out" all of the time and this stabilises the vehicle + improves handling. With the extra two drive wheels, the vehicle has twice the amount of traction all of the time (even in no-slip conditions) vs. a 2WD vehicle. Examples: MB M-class SUV, the Range/Land Rovers.
Full-time 4WD: Basically permanent 4WD but with a 2WD mode. This was born out of customer demand (for a 2WD mode). Examples: Toyota Sequoia, Mitsubishi Montero.
Permanent AWD: Basically permanent 4WD but without low range gearing. Examples include the Audi Quattro AWD system, the MB's 4-matic AWD system, Subaru's manual transmission AWD system.
Full-time AWD: System is active at all times, however in most cases, the one set of wheels (usually the rears) only receive 5-10% of the engine's power unless slippage occurs. At that point, power is progressively transfered to the opposite axle to help out. Some systems can transfer power to the rear upon acceleration to improve traction. However, they revert to 2WD mode when coasting. How is the new GM AWD system categorized in the Denali's. They are labeled as AWD and have no low range. They are rear wheel biased with a limited slip rear differential. This is a permanent AWD. Good choice since the system is proactive (vs reactive) and gives you additional traction in all conditions (doesn't need slippage to activate). I believe it has a torque split of 35/65 front/aft. GM's 4WD system (called AutoTrac) is a full-time part-time 4WD system. It's full-time in that it has an "Auto", 2WD, 4WD High, and 4WD Low mode, as well as the fact that in "Auto" mode, it is active at all times and monitoring for slippage. It's also part-time because it doesn't have a centre differential and hence cannot be used continuously on dry pavement (hence the reason why the auto mode only sends power to the opposite axle when slippage occurs). To simplify things, I refer to these systems as "Auto 4WD systems". Ford's Control Trac 4WD is another example of an auto 4WD system. Hope I didn't confuse you!
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