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4x2 V.s 4x4 For Overlanding - Which One to Choose?

Madiha Jamal is an adventurer. She loves to write about thrilling, adventurous drives, travelling experiences, and tips and tricks.


Overland vehicles are a bit more robust than your typical day-to-day vehicles and allow you to travel over the more rugged and rough land.

A 4x4 vehicle is ideal for unpredictable weather and variable terrain you may encounter while traveling through the varied landscapes and mountain regions.

But in general, there is no one best vehicle for overlanding. It depends on your driving skills, the way you tackle the unfortunate situations, and the right tools you carry (a puncture repair kit and a small air compressor).

A 4WD is obviously ideal but it depends on experience. What suits one person may not necessarily suit another person.

One of the things to consider is the compromise between on-road and off-road capability.

Something may be excellent off-road and going to be terrible on the road. You've got to find the balance.


Which one to choose for overlanding?

Let’s find out.

4x2 For Overlanding

The drivetrain of the vehicle is very important for overlanding. It connects the engine to the wheels and gives you the complete freedom to drive over the land.

A 4x2 comes in two different configurations; front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive.

A locked 2wd can be a good off-road vehicle and has the same drive capability as a 4wd with open differentials. It can take you lots of places you wouldn’t even imagine.

4x2 vehicles are fuel efficient and cost less to maintain and repair. These vehicles often have better fuel economy and cheaper than four-wheel drive vehicles.

When you overland with a 2wd, don’t go down much below 15psi for a soft sand or a kind of rock crawling. And if you are switching between gravel and pavement, 20 psi will be recommended.

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4x4 for Overlanding

Mountain terrain can be challenging and if you don’t have a suitable four-wheel drive vehicle, you will limit your travel options. These vehicles are typically designed and equipped for the camping portion of the expedition.

A 4x4 can typically go much farther without airing down. In deep sand, mud, or snow, a 4x4 is going to be gentlemanly than an exceptional 4x2. In rocks and in the terrain where significant crossing-up occurs and you are traveling at slow speeds, a 4x4 can quickly become a 4x2.

While at speeds say, 7 to 15 mph, a regular 4x4 still apply some power to any wheel touching the ground which makes it perfect for rock crawling.

Those who has four-wheel-drive suspension lift, differential locking and all-terrain tires to their van are supposed to have the whole world of their feet.

Powerful engine performance, permanent all-wheel drive, three differential locks, undercarriage protection is of course that's how we imagine the perfect all-wheel drive.

A 4x4 can handle all the challenging terrains.

4x2 Vs. 4x4

If you are overlanding on well packed dirt or gravel roads, 2wd is perfectly fine. But when you try to drive up or downhill, it gets tricky. So, try to keep your car rolling because a 4x2 doesn’t have enough torque to keep the wheels rotating at low speeds. A 4x2 is good for light overlanding and can give you the same experience you get in a 4x4 as long as you are not doing heavy rock crawling.

A 4x4 vehicle has more ground clearance. With some altering tires and a skid plate you can drive in snow, do rock climbing, go through mud, steep hills and different obstacles. A four-wheel-drive vehicle carry all the essential items you need for a trip. Whereas, a 4x2 really shakes the van back and forth; carrying plates, tents, and other camping essentials will not be a wise decision.

4x4 vehicles are great for handling slick roads in extreme weather conditions. They have better grip, power is applied to all four wheels, and less likely to slip in the boggy and muddy terrain.

With a 4x2 drivetrain configuration you are more likely to slip or get bogged in sand or mud as the power is only directed to two wheels, while the wheels that are not actively driven lose control on a slippery surface.

4WD vehicles are generally more expensive, because of the extra drivetrain components, less likely to be fuel efficient, takes a lot energy to power all four wheels at once, so you will have to fill up the tank more regularly than you would with a 4x2 vehicle.

Converting the two-wheel drive to a four-wheel drive is also super expensive that comes down to about twenty to twenty-five thousand dollars.

Which one is better?

A 4x4 is a great option for overlanding but it’s not a church. People think that just because they have a four-wheel-drive van they can just go wherever they want and do whatever they want and that is just not the case by any means. I see so many people these days purchase big rigs 4x4 that will take them anywhere because they think a 4x2 suck because it will be stuck in a muddy like boggy yard.

Guys that's not how that works. It all boils down to knowing your capabilities, knowing your likelihood of getting stuck, and then being able to get yourself out of those sticky situations. It is really irresponsible to do any kind of off-road travelling without carrying some form of recovery gear.

If you work on your driving skills, tire placement, assessing available traction, fine throttle control. These skills will take your 4x2 far off the beaten path (avoid rock crawling).

If you've got a vehicle just go on a road trip pack some food, pack whatever you need to make yourself self-sufficient.

You don't have to have a four-wheel drive vehicle to do over landing, just go and enjoy your expedition.

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