This paper describes a building block approach for understanding the past, present and future four wheel drive systems. The emphasis will be on light trucks and sport utility vehicles. It will describe the advantages of four wheel drive and how it improves performance and safety. The building block approach is a tool for categorizing the basic systems in the market. Systems are separated into main component areas and are rated for the effect they have on the overall performance and safety. This paper can be used as a means for understanding a very complex 4x4 market.