A hybrid 4x4 is a type of car that receives power in all four of its wheels at once from a combination of fuel and electricity. Like all hybrid cars, the hybrid 4x4 uses gasoline but not as much as other, non-hybrid models, as it is fueled in part by a rechargeable battery. The battery is not as powerful as the gas engine, which sometimes results in a 4x4 with a bit less torque and horsepower. On the plus side, however, hybrid models consume far less gasoline, which can translate to significant cost savings, as well as a smaller carbon footprint.
Any car that operates in four wheel drive can be described as a 4x4, although the term is most often applied to large sport utility vehicles and off-road vehicles. Most compact cars power only two wheels at once. These cars are referred to as either rear-wheel drive or front-wheel drive, depending on where the power is applied. Four-wheel-drive cars are more stable, particularly in bad weather. They often require more energy and fuel to keep them going, though.
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Hybrid technology seeks to limit the amount of fuel a car needs to operate. In a hybrid engine, a gas motor is accompanied by a rechargeable nickel metal hydride battery. The majority of hybrid batteries automatically recharge as the car is being driven, often during braking. Some cars plug in to electrical sockets, but these are in the minority.
The first hybrid cars were small compact vehicles designed for city driving and quick errands. As the technology has developed, it is being added to any number of more standard cars. The hybrid 4x4 is a relatively new market entrant, but in many ways is a welcome one.
As a class, 4x4 vehicles consume a significant amount of gasoline. Off-road cars are some of most notoriously fuel inefficient, particularly when being driven in the stop-and-start traffic so familiar to most urban areas. A hybrid 4x4 preserves the vehicle’s sporty, off-roading look while adding a more efficient power source.
A potential hybrid 4x4 drawback is its realized power. The batteries needed to power SUVs, pickup trucks, and other large vehicles are often quite heavy. While most hybrid batteries can match the torque and horsepower of gas engines under perfect conditions, drivers still sometimes complain that their hybrid 4x4s dos not drive as strongly or respond as quickly as traditional gas-based models. Much of this depends on the terrain, the overall load weight, and the type of vehicle at issue.
Environmentalists applaud hybrid 4x4 vehicles’ part in conservation. Because the cars use less fuel, they conserve oil resources while also reducing pollution. In some jurisdictions, driving a hybrid car qualifies one for tax breaks and special driving privileges, such as using the carpool lane.