Are All Jeeps 4-Wheel Drive? 7 Models Compared (Explained)

Jeep is well known for reliable vehicles that can take on any terrain.

This is because of the advanced 4-wheel drive capabilities that Jeeps have. Off-roading and outdoor sports enthusiasts swear by their Jeeps. This is no surprise because Jeeps never disappoint when it comes to off-road experience.

Are All Jeeps 4-Wheel-Drive?

Not all Jeeps models are 4-wheel drive. The Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Jeep Wrangler models only come as 4WD but the other models are offered as 2-wheel-Drive. Some models are available both as 2WD and as 4WD.

In this article, we look at exactly which Jeep models you can get with 4-wheel-drive and which models that are limited to two-wheel drive.

These Jeep Models Have 4-wheel Drive


These models only come in 4-wheel drive. This means none of these models are available in 2-wheel drive. 

  1. Jeep Grand Cherokee
  2. Jeep Wrangler
  3. Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

These Jeep models are what you’d be looking at in Jeeps 4×4 offers. They have the iconic 4-wheel drive that Jeep has been known for. 

Take note that these particular models only come in 4-wheel drive, and not in any other variants like the front-wheel-drive systems. 

The Wrangler has exceptional off-road capabilities. It is tried and tested against multiple competitors in the 4×4 segment and always comes out on top. This is due to the rugged nature that allows it to conquer unfriendly terrains with ease. 

The 4-wheel drive in these models is always on, meaning you don’t have to press any buttons to turn it on. With other 4-wheel drive alternatives, the feature needs to be turned on. This then shifts the power to each set of the wheels and you have 4-wheel drive.

This is not the case with these models.

Look-through our article which explains about Do Jeeps Hold Their Value? 

The feature is always on and you don’t have to press any buttons or look at the manual.

But while Jeep is the king of off-roading, they’ll most certainly have alternative models that do not have this feature. The following models are available in two-wheel drive variants, meaning they forgo the 4-wheel drive and only the two front or back wheels receive power from the drivetrain.

You should also be reading our article which talks about “Why don’t all Jeeps have doors”?

These Jeep Models Do NOT Have 4-wheel Drive

The Jeep models that are offered in two-wheel drive (No 4-wheel drive) include:

  1. Jeep Compass
  2. Jeep Patriot
  3. Jeep Renegade
  4. Jeep Cherokee

These models are the alternatives if you’re looking for a Jeep and don’t mind it not having the 4-wheel drive feature. They are most certainly just as capable as the 4×4 range but without the feature. This means if you get stuck, you’ll probably have to be towed out. 

A 2-wheel drive system only delivers power to two of the wheels so if both the wheels are stuck, the other two can’t really help. These models are great for camping trails and give great traction on normal roads. 

On the other hand, driving on uncharted outdoor trails will likely lead to getting stuck in the mud. The only difference is with the 2 or 4-wheel drive system in these models.

You should also be reading our article which talks about Can Jeeps Have 3rd-Row Seating?

They look much the same as the 4-wheel drive models, but without the 4-wheel drive feature. 

Which brings us to our next question.

If you happen to love Jeeps but aren’t necessarily an outdoor adventure person, you might be looking at whether you need the 4×4 feature in your Jeep. Perhaps you like the Jeep brand but feel the 4-wheel drive option isn’t for you.

You might question:

Do I Need 4-wheel Drive On My Jeep?

Probably not, but it is still a great feature to have just in case you decide to go off-roading. It’s handy if you live in an area that gets rainy weather, the traction ability in a 4-wheel drive can get you out of muddy situations.

Of all the features involved in a 4-wheel drive, traction control has to the most appealing. We’ve all been in those situations where the wheels of your car keep slipping, and you don’t feel completely in control of the car.

This happens mostly in snowy or wet weather conditions. What 4-wheel drive does is, because all the wheels are getting power from the drivetrain, each set of wheels can get as much traction for the car as possible. 

This gets you a better grip on the road and improves the control of the car.

But on the other hand, if you don’t see yourself in rocky situations like off-roading in rough terrain, then maybe the 4-wheel drive option isn’t for you. 

4-wheel drive Jeeps are more expensive than their 2-wheel drive counterparts. Not only will you spend more on fuel for the Jeep, but the cost of repairing a 4-wheel drive is more expensive as well. This is because it takes a lot more moving parts to make up the 4×4 system, and something is more prone to go wrong than on a much simpler 2-wheel drive. 

Another overlooked aspect of a 4-wheel drive is that it weighs more, so as to have more pulling or towing power. Not only does this decrease fuel efficiency, but it also means increased braking distance. If you’re pulling or towing something, the weight adds up and puts more pressure on the Jeep. 

That brings us to another question about towing.

How Much Better Does A 4-wheel Drive Jeep Tow?

A 4-wheel drive Jeep tows better than a 2-wheel drive because the 2 sets of wheels offer twice the amount of traction than on a 2-wheel drive system. More traction can mean more pulling power for towing.

The added power of a 4-wheel drive like the Jeep Grand Cherokee allows more power to the wheels for improved grip. This power on the two sets of wheels on the 4-wheel drive system allows twice the pull when towing. 

However, if you’re looking at a Grand Cherokee – make sure to check our list of the best years and worst years for the Grand Cherokee.

This is compared to a 2-wheel drive Jeep which will only be pulling from one set of wheels. It might not be a huge difference, but the power is quite noticeable when towing from a 4-wheel drive Jeep.

As with everything in life, more power usually equals more cost.

A 4-wheel will cost more than its counterpart because of the power.

How Much More Does 4-wheel Drive Cost?

2-wheel drive systems are more economical to produce and fuel-efficient because the engine only powers two wheels. You can expect to add between $2,000 and $3,000 more to get a 4-wheel drive of the same model.

The power in a 4-wheel drive system will also mean more cost on fuel. So overall, owning a 4-wheel Jeep will cost you more than the 2-wheel drive version. This is not so for Jeeps that allow you to turn the 4-wheel drive on and off at will. This means if the vehicle is not using the 4-wheel drive feature, the fuel cost won’t skyrocket as much.

Jeeps aren’t cheap to begin with, so looking at the 2-wheel drive alternatives is totally understandable. This is ideal if you aren’t even sure you’ll ever need the 4-wheel drive feature.

The area you live in can also determine this.

If it’s snowy and wet where you live, spending more to get the Grand Cherokee or Wrangler Unlimited is justifiable.

For example, the Jeep Grand Cherokee can go for about $33,000, while the Jeep Compass sits at around $26,000 for the FWD (Front-wheel-drive) version.

The price difference is quite big but it this does not mean the lower-priced Jeeps are not up to the task. Quite the opposite. Usually, the only difference in price will be due to the 4-wheel or 2-wheel drive systems. In light snow and wet conditions, the 2-wheel drive Jeeps are surprisingly stable and will not disappoint.

For the extra ruggedness under heavy terrain though, the 4-wheel drives will likely perform better. 

Are There Any Special Instructions For 4-wheel Drive On Jeeps?

The 4-wheel drive feature on the Jeep Wrangler or Jeep Grand Cherokee are always on by default and the driver does not have to do anything to turn the feature on. The system is on during dirt road driving and normal tar road driving.

Some manufacturers will have a huge manual that you can go through to understand how the car’s 4-wheel drive system works. More information is great, but having the 4-wheel drive feature on all the time is even better. 

The Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited are great examples of this. They have 4-wheel drive systems that function great in all types of road surfaces. So leaving a tarred road into a dirt road is easier on both models.

How Well Do Jeeps Handle Rough Terrain? (With Or Without 4-wheel Drive)

Jeep Wranglers, in particular, are all-terrain vehicles. Meaning they will conquer many rocky, hilly or uneven surfaces. Without the 4-wheel drive, Jeeps are not as reliable on slippery and wet surfaces.

It’s up to the driver to take absolute control of the vehicle on slippery roads. This is even if the vehicle is 4-wheel drive capable.

The 4-wheel drive system is designed to assist the driver to maneuver rough and uneven terrain. 

In such rough driving conditions, a Jeep will always perform better than a car. 

But a Jeep with 4-wheel drive will ultimately handle rough terrain better than one without 4-wheel drive.

In closing

With models such as the Grand Cherokee, taking on hills and rough backyard trails can be done in both style and comfort.

Even though the Jeeps SUV range of cars might seem like a style statement more than an offroader, don’t be mislead. These SUVs pack quite a punch in uneven roads and rough terrain. Most Jeeps come with 4-wheel drive. The perfect advantage to have when you’re taking on small hills and not-so-friendly terrain.

The problem with so many options in the Jeep range is that you don’t often know which models offer 4-wheel drive and which ones don’t.

4-wheel drive is the ability for all the wheels to be powered simultaneously. More power to each of the wheels get more traction and control. Whenever you get stuck on rough terrain, a 4-wheel drive system helps because if one wheel is stuck, the other wheels each still have enough power to pull the car.

If you are looking for a 4×4 for off-roading or you just happen to love the outdoors, it’s best to get an idea of which Jeep models to look. 

With roots going as far back as WWII, this brand is known to produce excellent vehicles. The Jeep Wrangler is particularly the most recognizable vehicle Jeep have ever produced. Not only is this model loved by both young and old, but it is also still in demand decades after its first appearance. 

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