If it seems like the popularity of four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive vehicles is rapidly increasing, then it’s because it actually is. According to a new report from purveyor of automotive business intelligence, JATO Dynamics, more buyers than ever are opting for four-wheel-drive cars, trucks, crossovers, and SUVs.
In April alone, a whopping 50.8 percent of new 2020 model year vehicles sold in the U.S. have been equipped with some sort of four-wheel-drive system.
As of April 2020, 50.8% of new vehicles sold in the 2020 model year have been equipped with four wheel drive. If trends hold, four wheel drive will represent more than 50% of the market for the first time ever. #JATONA #JATOV5 #4X4 #USA #JATO pic.twitter.com/CN3IpCiJjN
— JATODynamics_NA (@JATODynamics_NA) May 14, 2020
If that holds up for the remainder of the year, it would be the first time ever that four-wheel-drive vehicles represented more than 50 percent of new vehicle sales in a given model year. The statistic is rather astounding, given its unprecedented nature.
Incidentally, things have been trending this way for some time now: four-wheel-drive vehicles represented 49.4 percent of new vehicle sales in 2019, preceded by 47.3 percent in 2018, 42.3 percent in 2017, and 39.7 percent in 2016.
The reasoning behind this is pretty simple, too. Off-roading and overlanding have grown in popularity in recent years, as dedicated models like the Ford F-150 Raptor and F-Series Tremor sell like hotcakes. The trend also explains The Blue Oval’s decision to bring back the Ford Bronco while introducing the Ford Bronco Sport as a new entry to appeal to the rugged outdoor enthusiast.
In addition to that, those who live in the snow belt recognize the superior traction that 4WD or AWD systems offer in slippery driving conditions, such as in snow and on ice. Consumers who live in these climates opt for 4×4 traction in small vehicles like the EcoSport and Escape to larger ones like the Edge, Explorer and Expedition, and then to trucks like the Ranger, F-150 and F-Series Super Duty.
Meanwhile, automakers are also using AWD and 4WD systems to better put the power down in performance vehicles. For instance, the Ford Edge ST and Ford Explorer ST both feature standard all-wheel-drive systems, not so much for off-roading purposes, but more for the system’s ability to effectively transfer power to the ground.
The vast majority of the vehicles in the Ford and Lincoln lineups offer AWD or four-wheel-drive. In fact, every 2020 Lincoln model offers AWD or 4WD. Meanwhile, the only 2020 Ford vehicles that don’t offer AWD or 4WD are the Mustang and Transit Connect, unless one also counts the commercial side of the business, where the Ford E-Series as well as the F-650 and F-750 Medium Duty are available exclusively with rear-wheel-drive.
We’ve suspected for some time now that America has a love affair with four-wheel-drive vehicles, but now we can confirm it with actual figures. It seems everyone wants a piece of that rugged, outdoorsy look, or perhaps they just like to have all the traction they can get when things get slippery.