This article needs additional citations for verification. In automotive design, the automobile four wheel drive mechanism pdf describes where on the vehicle the engine and drive wheels are found.
Many different combinations of engine location and driven wheels are found in practice, and the location of each is dependent on the application for which the vehicle will be used. Layouts can roughly be divided into two categories: front- or rear-wheel drive. Four-wheel-drive vehicles may take on the characteristics of either, depending on how power is distributed to the wheels. Front-wheel-drive layouts are those in which the front wheels of the vehicle are driven. The weight of the engine over the driven wheels also improves grip in such conditions. FF designs, in contrast to FR which uses a longitudinal engine. According to a sales brochure for the 1989 Lotus Elan, the ride and handling engineers at Lotus found that “for a given vehicle weight, power and tyre size, a front-wheel-drive car was always faster over a given section of road.
Weight shifting limits the acceleration of a front-wheel-drive vehicle. On front-wheel-drive cars, the short driveshaft may reduce drivetrain elasticity, improving responsiveness. Interior space: Since the powertrain is a single unit contained in the engine compartment of the vehicle, there is no need to devote interior space for a driveshaft tunnel or rear differential, increasing the volume available for passengers and cargo. Weight: Fewer components usually means lower weight.
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Improved fuel efficiency due to less weight. Cost: Fewer material components and less installation complexity overall. However, the considerable MSRP differential between a FF and FR car cannot be attributed to layout alone. Improved drivetrain efficiency: the direct connection between engine and transaxle reduce the mass and mechanical inertia of the drivetrain compared to a rear-wheel-drive vehicle with a similar engine and transmission, allowing greater fuel economy. Assembly efficiency: the powertrain can often be assembled and installed as a unit, which allows more efficient production.