About 20 years ago, there was a big push toward front-wheel drive in the United States.
Today, there seems to be a strong push to rear-wheel drive.
Does it really matter?
Renault was one of the first big-volume car companies to really embrace front-wheel drive. As cars got smaller, front-wheel drive became more popular, and the now famous original Mini was the perfect example of a package that worked well with front-wheel drive.
Going back to the 1960s, the Oldsmobile Toronado and Cadillac Eldorado were early front-wheel-drive big cars in the United States, and they paved the way to a general acceptance of front-wheel drive.
Meanwhile, with the exception of Audi, German performance and luxury cars from Mercedes-Benz and BMW continued to use rear-wheel drive.
Now Chrysler has switched to rear drive for its standard-sized cars, though others in that segment seem to be sticking with front-wheel drive. But nearly everyone prefers all-wheel drive, even if it is the most costly drive system.
Today, front-wheel drive wins out in most small cars. It's a better package and costs less.
But in larger cars, it's anybody's guess as to which works better.
Although a few defy tradition, the vast majority of luxury and high-performance vehicles are still rear-wheel or all-wheel drive. It just seems to work better.
If a customer lives in the Snow Belt, the appeal of front-wheel drive seems to be strong.
Rear-drive works today, but you need a lot of electronic support and maybe even special tires to make it competitive in the snow.
It's a debate that won't end soon. Each system has some very wise and vocal proponents, and they can make some very strong arguments.
Outside the Snow Belt, customers don't seem to care and, in many cases, don't even know one from the other.
I'll take all-wheel drive, if I can get it. Then I won't have to take sides in the debate. That is, if it really matters.