When you decide to build a prerunner most people first think, “What model truck should I build?”, but most people never consider another important build factor, 2WD or 4WD.
Yes most prerunners are 2WD, this is in part because most race trucks have to be 2WD, but there are some benefits to owning a 4WD prerunner. This article will show you the pros and cons of each version. We here at the magazine have one of each, our 2004 Ford Ranger, Project Desert 4×4 and our 2WD 1996 Explorer you might have seen in our Pump My Prerunner video. First we will start with 2WD prerunners since they are the norm.
The first thing with a 2WD prerunner build is cost, yes it is cheaper to build a 2WD prerunner because you don’t have to deal with extended front axles which aren’t cheap. The next benefit is weight. 2WD prerunners don’t have a heavy front axle and transfer case which saves you hundreds or pounds. Not having these 2 items are 2 less things that can break when you’re out in the desert.
Suspension travel is another benefit of 2WD prerunners. When you build a long travel kit for a 4WD prerunner you are limited to the amount a CV joint can articulate in the front axle. Both our prerunners have the Dixon Bros Racing long travel kits on them, and just at ride height you can see the difference, our 4WD Ranger sits a lot lower than our 2WD Explorer.
You will even see this if you are building a prerunner using I-Beams. I guess this is why Trophy Trucks are 2WD. Ok now that we have shown you the benefits of 2WD prerunners, it is time to look at the cons, well I wouldn’t really call them cons, more like limitations.
Say you are out in the middle of the desert and you hit a big area of silt. In a 2WD prerunner if you stop or aren’t on the gas you run the risk of getting stuck. If you are in a 4WD prerunner, well you just kick into 4-hi and you are out of there. This is why I say it is more about limitations than cons. If you know this when you hit the dirt you have a better chance of not getting stuck.
2WD prerunners must rely on momentum and horsepower if you like to hit the dunes. I have seen my friend crawl up Comp Hill at Dumont with his 4WD Ranger prerunner, no problem. I wouldn’t try this in a 2WD prerunner unless I had a few hundred feet to get going and a ton of power under my right foot.
Simply prerunning in a 4WD can be safer than a 2WD prerunner. Say you are on a long stretch that is pretty smooth and you want to open it up a bit. Well having 4WD on tap keeps you going in a straight line without feeling the drift you do in 2WD.
So really the decision is yours, these are just a few things we noticed as being different between the 2 types of prerunners you can build. 2WD saves weight and money, 4WD gives you a sense of security.