The Land Rover Defender is described by LEGO as "all wheel drive".

There is no motor directly attached to power the wheels. The set cannot move unless we pull it by hand.

So, what does "all wheel drive" mean?

What about other sets like Jeep Wrangler, Monster Jam Grave Digger, Ford Raptor or Off Road Buggy? How can we describe their drive system?

  • Related - "All wheel drive" is a relatively modern design, where computers dynamically control how much power is sent to the front/rear axles. A modern AWD car like a Subaru will send almost all of its drive to the front wheels when simply travelling straight at speed. "4 wheel drive" is something else, where all four wheels get drive, and if one looses traction can strand the whole vehicle, unless there are locking differentials or one gets a tow. A traditional series landrover has 4WD, a defender may have AWD depending on its age.
    – Criggie
    Oct 10 '21 at 9:41

The "all wheel drive" phrase is used to represent a fact the model has a real life-like feature, I guess. Yes, it may not have the motor to provide the power to the wheels. But it has the differentials which are present in real vehicle's transmission, that work the same way real system does. Newest 4x4 Mercedes-Benz Zetros Trial Truck (42129) set has even got a lockable differential. Yes, it is bulky and may not be an exact copy of real-life solution, but it represent the existing feature.

This is also similar to a "motor" function (the one with moving pistons) we have in lots of Technic sets. In LEGO implementation it is working backwards - you need to push the model for the motor to "work". However, this assembly does represent the real-life relationship and connection between motor, gearbox (if one exist) and wheels.

  • 2
    This. If you hand-crank the geared assembly at the back of the model, all 4 wheels rotate. Oct 8 '21 at 15:00
  • 4
    And if you don't read the instructions carefully and put the differential in back-to-front then the wheels turn in opposite directions and you can't push it along the ground.
    – MT0
    Oct 9 '21 at 20:36

Alex has given a great answer to your "what does "all wheel drive" means?" question, I'll attempt to answer the next one:

What about other sets like Jeep Wrangler, Monster Jam Grave Digger, Ford Raptor or Off Road Buggy? What can we describe their drive system?

The 42118 Monster Jam Grave Digger and 42124 Off Road Buggy don't claim to have all-wheel drive, at least I can't see this or any similar phrase in their official description. Both have different mechanisms driving their rear wheels though.

The 42122 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon says it's 4x4 ("own a high-performance 4X4") but it has no engine, and the wheels aren't connected to anything, floating freely. I can only assume the 4x4 designation was insisted upon the marketing people of Jeep, as it has the same "drive" as the 5532 Fire Car (i.e. none):

enter image description here

I hope nobody would seriously consider this model AWD :)

The 42126 Ford F-150 Raptor has only its rear wheels "driven" (connected to the engine), so the proper designation would be RWD (rear wheel driven).

The 42110 Land Rover Defender is described as having "working All Wheel Drive", which is an apt designation here, as all wheels are connected to the engine (by the help of three differentials and a gearbox, which are only tangentially relevant to the question).

  • I just got this response from LEGO on my question - what all wheel drive means on LEGO Land Rover Defender. "It means that the 4 wheels in this set are able to move around, as we do have some car / truck products that wheels are fixed (mostly due to for display) the wheels aren't able to move around. However, for set LEGO® Technic™ Land Rover Defender 42110 wheels are able to move freely." There is no mention of connected to motors or implementing differentials. As long as all the wheels can freely move, the set can be said all wheel drive, right? Oct 10 '21 at 7:48
  • You can certainly say what you want, but human communication depends on two parties having the same understanding of the concepts being used. Since pretty much everybody considers "all wheel drive" to refer to something distinct from my Fire Car example (as apparent from the responses both here and on your Facebook post), by insisting on using the non-standard interpretation, deliberate difficulties are introduced into the conversation. If you asked your question with the intent to learn and clear up the confusion, then do so. I understand your position, but the language usage is clear here.
    – zovits
    Oct 10 '21 at 8:07
  • I am not insisting on using non-standard interpretation, but more for having a common terms that all will understand. Anyway, as some say, there is always 2 sides of a coin. For sake of discussion, my reference on using the term is from LEGO itself. Without a clear guideline from LEGO, this matter IMHO is a grey area. Oct 10 '21 at 8:29

The 'real' Land Rover Defender comes standard with 'permanent All Wheel Drive'.

Permanent All Wheel Drive is standard on Land Rover Defender except for those fitted with new D200, D250 and D300 6-cylinder Diesel engines.

Those LEGO sets try to make the set work as realistically as possible. Without engine, of-course, but the rest works as much the same as possible. Because it's such a key feature in this car, they made it a key feature in the set. That's why they used those exact words, they came straight from Land Rover.

What it means effectively is how the gearbox is put together. The set has a seriously complicated gearbox which is talked about in this YouTube video. You can find lots of pictures on the build and the gearbox in the Brickset review.

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