FWD RWD AWD - What's Right for Police
By Rob Rothwell
Thursday, March 01, 2012
Police in boardrooms across North America are engaging in an interesting debate: which vehicle should replace the Crown Victoria as a general duty patrol car, and should it be front-wheel-drive (FWD), rear-wheel-drive (RWD) or all-wheel-drive (AWD)?
The three sedans under primary consideration are the Ford Police Interceptor (a Taurus), the Dodge Charger and the Chevrolet Caprice. The Charger is propelled by its rear wheels while the Caprice is pulled along by its front wheels. The Ford can be obtained in either FWD or AWD configurations.
So the question distills to this: which drivetrain? For many car enthusiasts, the answer would be RWD or AWD. I doubt many people serious about their driving would choose FWD for a patrol car, but there’s a dilemma with the AWD choice.
In the case of Ford’s Police Interceptor, the benefit of AWD adds anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 to the purchase price per unit. Multiply that by a fleet of 250 patrol cars and you’ve loaded a quarter to half million onto the backs of over-taxed citizens.
After the capital costs, burdened taxpayers can expect to absorb greater operating costs due to the extra fuel consumption associated with AWD systems along with greater repair and maintenance costs.
So what’s in for the John Q. Public, other than an increased tax load? It could potentially mean a quicker response time to emergencies during poor weather conditions thanks to the added traction and stability of an AWD system. One could also argue that an AWD setup is safer for high-speed use and emergency driving than a FWD or RWD format.
If AWD enhances vehicle controllability, it should also reduce the collision rate of police cars and thereby reduce damage costs, and more importantly, death and injury to police and citizens. In these difficult financial times, the anticipated benefits of AWD may be the ounce of prevention that buys a pound of cure — however, it may also be the ounce of prevention that buys a pound waste.
What are your thoughts about spending more of your hard-earned loonies to equip police cars with AWD?