Got an e-mail from a reader taking me to task for referring to the drive train of my weekend Wheels road test subject the Subaru Impreza as being "four-wheel drive."
No error here, glaring or otherwise.
The Subaru Impreza has four wheels.
All are driven.
Hence, four-wheel drive.
"All-wheel drive" is a misleading and imprecise term.
A two-wheel drive motorcycle (yes, there is such a thing...), a three-wheel drive tricycle (not sure about that...) or a six-wheel drive army truck (yes again...) would each be an "all-wheel drive" vehicle.
In the automotive world, the term "all-wheel drive" was co-opted (if not invented) by marketing people to attempt to distinguish between part-time four-wheel drive systems in (older) trucks and full-time (sometimes; not always...) systems in passenger cars.
This attempt is unsuccessful. The correct terms actually should be "manually-engaged part-time four-wheel drive" - what you see with a shift lever in older trucks, or newer trucks and most four-wheel drive passenger cars which require pushing a button to engage the "other" pair of wheels; "part-time automatically-engaged four-wheel drive" - what you see on most of today's four-wheel drive vehicles, even trucks, where the "other" pair of wheels is engaged whenever the system detects slippage at the main driving wheels; and "full-time four-wheel drive" - when all four wheels are being fed torque all the time, usually in varying quantities, and which best describes Subaru's systems.
I guess all of these terms take up too much room.
But from an engineering perspective, "all-wheel drive" is meaningless, irrelevant and imprecise.
I am an engineer, and just refuse to be sucked into marketing bafflegab. If I were a marketing person I'd still be working for Procter and Gamble!
So, you can call it what you will.
All are driven.
Couldn't be simpler.