Difference Between Tesla AWD and RWD

So what’s the difference between a Tesla RWD and AWD? Tesla keeps pushing the envelope year after year with electric car technology.

The addition of a second engine can be a game changer for electric cars. This increases their horsepower, top speed, and towing capability. But AWD isn’t as fool-proof as we like to think. The second engine adds more weight to the Tesla and may decrease range.

What Do the Acronyms Refer to?

  • The acronyms are about how power is transferred from the engine to the wheels. These wheels rotate the axle to move the electric car in California.
  • The difference between RWD and AWD lies in how the drivetrains deliver power to wheels.
  • RWD vehicles deliver power from the engine to the rear wheels. The front wheels only provide steering.
  • Most gasoline-powered RWD vehicles out there are pickup trucks and performance cars. This is because of their even weight distribution with an RWD drivetrain.
  • The same concept applies to electric cars in California. They provide superior handling, although performance does suffer in slippery conditions compared to FWD systems.
  • RWD systems also provide superior towing and payload capabilities compared to FWD cars.
  • In AWD systems, the drivetrains send power to both axles simultaneously. This allows all four wheels in the electric car to be engaged at once.
  • This dramatically improves traction. For example the AWD system can redistribute power upon sensing traction loss.
  • AWD vehicles are trendy in off-road terrains. AWD EVs should be used in areas with poor road conditions.

Acceleration Performance: Tesla RWD vs. AWD

AWD Teslas can take complete advantage of the onboard engine. This allows them to generate more power. 

AWD vehicles are extremely efficient in cost, space, mass, and fuel consumption. RWD Teslas are slightly weaker than Tesla AWDs.

Difference Tesla AWD Tesla RWD

Comparing the Tesla AWD and RWD

The difference between both Teslas isn’t dramatic. For everyday motorists, an RWD is just as good as an AWD.

For performance enthusiasts who are fond of crunching numbers, an RWD just won’t cut it. For having a second motor the AWD isn’t dramatically faster.

A cursory look at the Tesla’s FWD and RWD shows a slight performance improvement. Here are the lap times for Tesla AWD vs. RWD:

  • RWD: 99 seconds
  • AWD: 94 seconds

This is a major performance improvement. The AWD has the best driving metrics with superior horsepower.

A major reason motorists opt for AWD is its performance outside the tarmac. So if you’re always driving in the snow and sand, choose an AWD.

A Tesla AWD has a major advantage over an RWD, thanks to raw driving power. There is more acceleration that allows an AWD to scale steep hills.

A Tesla AWD with all-season tires is the ideal solution for the rain and snow.

Also read: Can You Put Gas in a Tesla? The Surprising Answer

The Pros and Cons of AWD and RWD in each Tesla

This section looks at how AWD and RWD work on each Tesla model. Motorists can buy a Model Y with an AWD and RWD. The Model Y is a significant upgrade over the Model 3 and X. It offers more seating space for cargo and seating.

The interior is also bigger in the Model Y. The most popular versions of the Model Y are the Performance and the Long Range.

The Performance option is about $10,000, more expensive than the Long Range.

The latter offers users superior acceleration and top speed. But the AWD option isn’t worth it unless you take your Tesla on the racetrack.

Model Y Performance.

The AWD option is heavier due to the second motor. It offers more torque and power, but rapidly eats up more miles.

The Model Y with its AWD trim is ideal for motorists seeking off-the-road performance. Here are the pros and cons of The Performance:


  • The Performance works really well in the snow and dirt with superior traction
  • The interior is roomier
  • It can be enjoyable to drive the Performance given its power and acceleration
  • It offers 300 miles on a full charge – this is a good number.


  • You get what you pay for, and the Performance is a bit pricier

Model Y Standard RWD

The Model Y is no slow poke despite having a single engine. But the battery pack is only capable of covering 250 miles per charge.

Elon Musk himself wasn’t too fond of the Model Y’s range. Tesla even went so far as to remove the Model Y from their website.

However, the car is still available for purchase on special order. After realizing the high demand for the Standard Range, Tesla now sings a different tune.

Musk now believes that the Standard Range is a great entry that meets Tesla’s standards.

Here are the pros and cons of the Model Y RWD.


  • It is relatively affordable making it a good choice for those on a budget.
  • It offers a decent 240 miles per charge. This should be enough for most motorists.
  • The single engine does really well in terms of performance.


  • The RWD system may not do well outside of the tarmac.
  • It feels underwhelming compared to the Performance Range.
Difference Between Tesla AWD RWD

A Quick Look at the Model 3

The Model 3 is among the more affordable Teslas out there. This does not mean that it is a bad car.

The Model 3 comes with several improvements. Its Long Range and Performance trims use AWD systems. There is a cheaper RWD system that will be discussed below.

Model 3 All Wheel Drive (Performance and Long Range)

Model 3’s Long Range trim offers a whopping 350 miles on a single charge. The Performance trim provides a range of 20 miles less at full charge.

The Performance version more than makes up for this in acceleration and speed. It is one second faster than the Long Range from 0-to-60 mph.

The extra power in the Performance reduces range. But don’t let this hold you back from buying the Performance.

The Model 3 is a sedan with four doors. The interior spacing in Model 3 is less than the Model Y.

The all-drive system in the Model 3 works really well in off-road conditions.


  • Both versions offer more range at a good price point without sacrificing power. The range of the Performance is slightly less compared to the Range. The difference isn’t overwhelming.
  • The all-wheel systems in both trims are great for off-road terrains


  • There is less space in the Model 3 compared to the Model Y

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Model 3 Rear Wheel Drive

The Model 3 Rear Wheel Drive offers 267 miles on a single charge. It comes with a top speed of 140 mph.


  • The most budget-friendly option for motorists new to electric vehicles in California
  • It is fun to take the Model 3 RWD for a spin
  • There is plenty of room for storing luggage


  • The RWD system does not do well in off-road surfaces

Model S

All Model S vehicles come with an AWD system. They are available in two trims: Long Range and Plaid.

As the name suggests, Long Range offers more miles per charge but it is slower. The Plaid trim offers more speed but has less range.

In other words there are tradeoffs for speed and range.

The number of motors is a significant difference between the Plaid and Long Range trims.  The Plaid has three motors. The Long range uses two engines.

It comes as no surprise that the Plaid version costs a lot more. Expect to spend at least $35,000 more on the Plaid than the Long Range.

The top speed of the Plaid is 200 mph. This blows the Long Range’s 155 mph out of the water.  But do you need the Plaid for general commuting?

For practical purposes, both trims are essentially the same. Here are the pros and cons in a nutshell.        


  • The Model S is designed for performance enthusiasts.
  • The Plaid S comes with three motors.
  • Both versions offer a good range (better than the competition)
  • The AWD systems can tear through every type of terrain


  • The Plaid trim is prohibitively expensive. Is the extra worth the price tag? The end-user will decide. For general applications, the Plaid isn’t needed.
Difference Tesla AWD RWD

Model X

All Model X trims use AWD systems. Tesla was initially planning to sell RWD systems but chose not to.

The Model X comes with double-hinged falcon doors. It costs nearly $99,000. The top speed for the Model X is 155 mph. It does 60 mph in 3.8 seconds.

The Plaid trim is outfitted with a Tri-motor system. This version costs $15,000 more than the standard Model X. It can do 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds. The top speed for this EV is 163 mph.

All versions of the Model X are heavy cars. The three engines in the Plaid version makes it even heavier. Here are the pros and cons of the Model X:


  • Superior design and impressive aesthetics.
  • There is plenty of space for storing luggage.
  • All versions of the Model X do over 330 miles.
  • The electric vehicles in California can handle every type of terrain


  • The Model X is very expensive, especially the Plaid version.

Click here: Can You Get a Tesla Without a Sunroof? [7 Reasons]

Comparing the Features of Tesla’s AWD and RWD Versions

This comparison will not be complete without looking at other features of Tesla electric cars. All Tesla versions offer a superior range.

The difference mostly boils down to horsepower and top speeds. The drivetrain of the Tesla EVs plays a big role in performance.

However, for practical purposes, all versions should be good for motorists. But performance enthusiasts will want to buy AWD versions.

Here are a few features to compare when buying Tesla EVs.

Number of Motors

Tesla electric cars with AWD drivetrains have two motors. One motor for the front axle and the second motor for the rear axle.

These systems allow the Tesla EV to distribute power equally to all wheels. On the other hand, Tesla vehicles with RWD systems have a single motor.

This system only delivers power to the wheels at the rear. The torque in Tesla RWDs is excellent and does reasonably well in all terrains.

However, the AWD drivetrains are a favorite because of their superior horsepower. Some Tesla AWDs, like the Model X Plaid, comes with three motors. This dramatically increases their top speed.

Performance in Off-Road Terrains

AWD Tesla vehicles are outfitted with a superior power distribution system. Their drivetrain can detect traction performance and adjust performance depending on traction.

These EVs also have higher ground clearance. This is useful for off-road performance. Tesla RWD systems struggle in off-road environments.

This is because the rear wheel doesn’t provide enough torque to all wheels. Tesla AWDs are a clear winner for off-road activities here.

The chances of Tesla AWDs getting stuck in the mud are slim.

Top Speeds

Tesla AWDs are generally faster than RWD systems. This, even though they are heavier. The faster speed is attributable to the power distribution on all wheels.

Tesla AWDs are an excellent option if you want faster lap times. But for getting to and from work, Tesla RWDs will do just fine.


Tesla AWDs are more expensive because of their superior performance. It can also cost more to charge these electric cars in California.

The long-term cost of owning Tesla AWDs is higher as a result. The Tesla RWD is a good option for the daily commuter.

The cost of recharging Tesla RWDs is relatively inexpensive. Besides, Tesla RWDs come with excellent features and provide good performance on the tarmac.

Difference Tesla AWD and RWD

Wrapping Up

It can be tough to choose between Tesla AWDs and RWDs. Understanding the difference in their performance can help you make a decision.

If you are a daily commuter, we recommend going with Tesla RWDs. But if you want to maximize performance out of your Tesla, then go with AWDs. For off-road performance, we recommend Tesla AWDs. This is because they offer superior traction and torque in all terrains. Besides, the handling and driving experience of Tesla AWDs is better. 

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