Jeeps and 4x4s have a few things in common, but they have a lot of differences among them as well.

Jeeps and 4x4s are often used interchangeably, but people don't realize they're not synonymous with each other. While Jeeps are a type of vehicle, 4x4s are on the next level. Not all Jeeps are 4x4s.

Jeeps are sports utility vehicles (SUVs), and while there is no commonly accepted definition, there are common characteristics vehicles have to share before they are classified as an SUV. The most common characteristics are that elements of road-going passenger cars are incorporated and combined with design features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and a light truck chassis.

That said, 4x4s are named for their four-wheel drive (4WD). This is not an essential element of a Jeep, as some Jeeps only have two-wheel-drive (2WD) in the front two wheels. Some Jeeps happen to feature 4WD, and while a lot of them do, there are also 2WD Jeeps out there. Jeeps and 4x4s have a few things in common, but they have a lot of differences among them as well.

15 Difference: 4x4s Can Electrically Short Out

Believe it or not, 4x4s can actually experience electrical failure when they short out. When a four-wheel drive vehicle, like a 4x4, crosses deep water or even shallow water, there's a slight possibility that the vehicle's electrical system will short out upon contact with the water. Since 4x4s have a rough life being off-road vehicles, this comes up more frequently than it does with cars.

14 Difference: 4x4s Go Off Road Easier

As mentioned before, 4WD vehicles, such as 4x4s, have an easier time going off-road. The all-wheel drive is always on, distributing power through all four wheels. The automaker customizes the way power is delivered to the wheels through the car's computer, and all-wheel drive is not as well-suited for off-roading as a conventional 4x4 system is.

13 Difference: 4x4s Get Worse Mileage

One cost of a 4x4 is worse mileage. Cars with 2WD get better mileage because they don't send as much energy to all of the vehicle's wheels, whereas 4x4s do. Also, 4WD systems add hundreds of pounds to the vehicle's weight, which makes the engine work harder and use more fuel to move the car.

12 Difference: 4x4s Have Superior Traction

Traction is superior in 4x4 vehicles. This helps 4x4s overcome bad weather, thanks to precise steering and optimized wheelbases that expedite more effective navigation for drivers. 4x4s can push ahead, no matter how rough the terrain is or with water in the way. Most 4x4s can cross up to 19-30 inches of water.

11 Difference: 4x4s Are More Expensive To Maintain

As 4x4s are more complex vehicles, they are also more expensive to maintain. There are ways to cut down maintenance costs, but the fact remains that a car or 2WD Jeep would be cheaper to maintain. The inner systems of a 4x4 are the culprit for added maintenance cost, specifically the additional prop shaft, diff and transfer case, as well as the mechanism to engage all four wheels.

10 Difference: 4x4s Handle Muddy Terrain

4x4s are likely to go through the mud and win. While muddy conditions can be deceiving, 4x4s sport sealed electrical systems, a high air intake, and available skid plates for undercarriage protection. Higher gears control momentum and speed, preventing the wheels from spinning and letting the tire treads perform nicely.

9 Difference: Jeeps Lend Themselves Better To Inexperienced Drivers

Jeeps that are 2WD are often a better choice for inexperienced drivers because they are less complex and more lightweight. The average driver doesn't need the extra terrain, hardcore traction, and weather security gained from a 4x4 like a farmer, builder, and rural resident would. Driving all four wheels is also a more complex skill, making driving one less pleasant to drive than their two-wheel-drive counterparts.

8 Difference: 4x4s Are More Complex Vehicles

As mentioned before, 4x4s are overall more complex vehicles. They can be harder for new drivers to get used to, they have more settings to master, they have higher maintenance costs, and they use more fuel, resulting in poorer mileage.

There's more – because the wheels are not all the same distance away from the engine, the farther wheels have more trouble getting power from the engine. Certain systems have to be installed to counter this effect.

7 Difference: 4x4s Shine In Inclement Weather

Inclement weather really allows 4x4s to shine. After all, power is distributed from the engine to the wheels that need it most. Drivers who live in areas with rougher and more inconsistent weather can benefit most from this feature. They get better handling and control in their vehicle, as well as stronger performance in poor weather. Furthermore, 4WD systems are designed to better handle rugged road conditions.

6 Difference: Jeeps Can Drive Better In The City

While 4x4s do better in rural settings, 2WD Jeeps handle much better on city streets. Living in the city often negates situations and circumstances where 4WD would be practical and useful. A good set of winter tires can often perform the same function as a 4x4 at a city driving level.

5 Difference: 4x4s Need More Frequent Maintenance

Not only are 4x4s more expensive to maintain, they also need to be maintained much more frequently. The difference in costs between a 4x4 and a 2WD Jeep revolve around which parts and systems are more vulnerable to frequent wear and tear. 4X4s need to have the transfer case fluid changed more frequently. 4X4s are also used in a more demanding way more often, leading to one or more tires becoming damaged beyond repair.

4 Difference: 4x4s Aren't Essential In Warmer Climates

A lot of inclement weather, such as snow and ice, happens in colder climates. Therefore, 4x4s aren't quite as essential in warmer climates. While 4WD can still prove useful when the weather gets rough, this doesn't happen as often, and 4WD systems add weight and complexity to the vehicle, increasing the likelihood of something breaking and needing repair.

3 Similarity: They Both Share The Same Internal Accessories

Jeep and 4x4s do have some similarities in their accessories, most of which are shared. For example, a 4x4 and the 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sport offer many of the same optional features, such as voice-activated audio control, cloth seats, a body-colored grille, wireless phone connectivity, eight speakers, driver's seat six-way direction control, and a rear backup camera.

2 Similarity: They Both Have Similar Size And Capacity

Both Jeeps and 4x4s share similar size and capacity. After all, they have similar bodies and shapes, which leads to the common misconception of all Jeeps having 4WD. However, most Jeeps manufactured can be ordered in either 2WD or 4WD. Both Jeeps and 4x4s are versatile and are sized to fit either singles or married couples with kids.

1 Similarity: They Both Have Efficient Front-Wheel Drive

Another commonality is that Jeeps and 4x4s share efficient front-wheel drive. The main advantage of 4WD is improved handling and accelerating traction, as it shows with inclement weather such as snow, ice, and rain.

Keep in mind that both 2WD vehicles and 4WD vehicles have power sent from the engine to the front two wheels, making them nearly equally effective in that regard.