The difference between a 4x4 and a 4x2 bakkie

The choice between a 4x2 and a 4x4 bakkie comes down to the real needs of the driver

Reuben Van Niekerk

In South Africa bakkies are one of the biggest selling vehicle types and for good reason. A bakkie combines the comfort of a passenger vehicle with the load carrying ability of a small truck. This makes bakkies an ideal compromise for owners looking for a family vehicle that can also be used in a working environment or for leisure purposes if your hobbies require the carrying of large items like bicycles, motorcycles or sports equipment.


Furthermore, the increased ground clearance of a bakkie ensures a command driving position but also allows it to traverse bad roads with ease.


The model range of most bakkies available in South Africa is rather extensive and will include true workhorse variants as well as models aimed at the leisure market. Bakkies are also generally available in three body styles namely single cab, extra cab and double cab. Lastly buyers have the choice between 4x2 and 4x4.


What is the difference between 4x4 and 4x2?

In a 4x2 bakkie all the engine power is transferred to the two driven wheels, which are normally the rear wheels. A 4x2 bakkie, is perfectly fine for 90 percent of driving conditions, but could leave you looking for traction if conditions become extreme.


On the other hand a 4x4 bakkie has the ability to evenly distribute its engine power to all four wheels. In normal driving conditions the power is sent to the driven wheels just like on a 4x2 bakkie. However the driver has the option of selecting 4x4 mode, which will then send power or drive to all four wheels. This ensures better grip on slippery surfaces such as gravel, snow or during extreme off-road driving. 4x4 bakkies will also be equipped with a low range transfer case, that allows for four-wheel drive coupled to extremely low gear ratios, needed for extreme off-road driving at low speeds but when maximum power is needed.


Do you really need a 4x4?

Naturally the 4x4 technology has its drawbacks. A 4x4 vehicle will be considerably more expensive than its 4x2 counterpart and will also be slightly heavier, which will affect fuel consumption. The advantage is that you can literally drive anywhere and your adventures or work assignments are not limited by the condition of the road.


When deciding which bakkie is right for you, you need to carefully consider your actual needs. If the bakkie is going to be used solely as a leisure vehicle in town and with occasional adventures onto dirt roads then a 4x2 bakkie will be more than sufficient. If you long for life off the beaten track and do not ever want to be limited by road conditions, then the 4x4 is the right choice for you.