Please discuss the merits of front or rear wheel drive systems. Thank You!
If you live where winter weather is a concern FWD typically trumps RWD for getting about. Otherwise go on preference.
I prefer RWD, as it gives more balanced handling and weight distribution. Also, RWD generally allows more towing and cargo capacity, along with decreased repair costs - the RWD drivetrain is cheaper and easier to service than FWD. Also, RWD vehicles do not exhibit torque steer under acceleration.
That said, my car is a FWD Chevy Impala. FWD cars tend to have somewhat larger interiors, and do not have a huge transmission hump down the center of the passenger compartment. FWD cars also generally get better fuel mileage. It’s also much more commonly available on the used car market than RWD vehicles (the selection of vehicles with RWD is limited to the CV, Dodge Charger and Magnum, Chrysler 300, and pickup trucks and some SUVs.)
For the majority of drivers, FWD is pefectly fine, and indeed many drivers would be overwhelmed by a RWD vehicle, particularly if the vehicle gets in a skid. However, I would say to choose the vehicle you like best. The Crown Vic is a very good car, can be had fairly cheaply, is quite reliable, has plenty of cargo and passenger space, and is fairly cheap to insure.
The police aren’t stuck a lot. Studded snow tires work really good with a Crown Vic. You can downshift going downhill on ice and snow with rear wheel drive. You could run right off the road with front wheel drive if you like doing that.
Note that police very often have limited slip differentials along with their snow tires.
Wrong wheel drive is less expensive to build. Right wheel drive yields better weight distribution in passenger sedans. Ask me which I prefer? Note that it does not snow where I live now.
P.S. If you are thinking of buying a CV or a Grand Marquis, surf on over to www.crownvic.net for a partisan point of view and lots of good advice on which flavor to buy.
I prefer RWD, as it gives more balanced handling and weight distribution.
People looking for high performance often consider RWD to be better, but I suspect it’s more in the vein of the CD vs vinyl debate (or transistor vs tube amplifier debate). True, the driveshaft and massive rear axle can balance out things a bit.
Also, RWD generally allows more towing and cargo capacity,
I suspect this is more a result of RWD being found in older designs (larger vehicles, separate frame and body), rather than something intrinsic about RWD. The need for space for that big ol’ rear axle and differential to move around cuts trunk space – you can have a deeper trunk with FWD.
along with decreased repair costs - the RWD drivetrain is cheaper and easier to service than FWD.
Any figures to back that up? A solid rear axle might be cheaper than two half-shafts and CVJs, but you pay the price in poorer mileage and worse handling.
Also, RWD vehicles do not exhibit torque steer under acceleration.
The only time I’ve heard of that happening is when the half-shafts are of unequal length. I have FWD and have never felt the wheel trying to turn while accelerating.
Re: trunk space: The CV has more trunk space than any of its competitors, including the Impala. That’s part of the reason the police like it so much. Granted, the CV is about 10 inches longer, but it has an extra 2 cubic feet of trunk space over the Impala.
Re: repair costs: No, I don’t have any figures, but the police do. When I was working with a small local police service, they were looking to purchase a new cruiser. They absolutely were not going to buy an Impala, due to it being FWD, and, according to the OPP, cost more to repair than the Crown Vic. I don’t know how much more, but the police would know the cost differences between the two.
Re: torque steer: The wheel doesn’t actually turn. It’s sort of like a front wheel fishtail. Since only one wheel is driven (assuming the vehicle doesn’t have an LSD), the car will pull to the driven wheel side under hard acceleration. The only FWD vehicle I’ve driven that didn’t exhibit torque steer was an 02 Hyundai Accent… but it was probably because the engine didn’t have enough power to make some torque steer.
I prefer RWD for real cars to be used in dry weather. The only real advantage of FWD (other than being cheap to build) is it’s performance in low traction conditions. Personally, I can’t stand fwd handling in dry conditions, so I just keep a 4WD around for use in the snow and drive my RWD cars whenever it’s decent out.
RWD-less maintenance, more money in your pocket, less headache. I can give you some advantages: No CV boots & No CV Joints. Some have either Struts or Shocks. I prefer Shocks since it’s easier to install & cheaper.
Good point overall, but RWD cars with independent rear suspension still have CV joints (and they are not cheap).
We don’t have any “real” winter down here. Two inches of snow, and they close most of the roads! So I can’t address much more than comfort and ride. We had a 2000 Merc Grand Marquis, basically a CV with different trim. My wife drove it for 4 years and then traded for a Mazda Tribute (FWD). Even with power seats, she never really liked the driving position of the Merc. However, you couldn’t talk her out of her Trib.
The Merc’s highway gas mileage was excellent, often over 27mpg. Handling on smooth surfaces was pretty good, but not on bumpy washboard roads. Road conditions that the Trib doesn’t even notice seemed rougher and/or made the rear end very skittish in the Merc. Current models do have rack and pinion steering, which may improve the steering response.
My car is an 07 Focus SES, much less interior volume, and the ride is not as smooth as the Merc, but handling is very precise, and a rear anti-sway bar removes the front-heavy feeling of most FWD’s.
YMMV, test drive different cars and see which you like. There was much to like about the Merc (or CV) but both of us are happier with our FWD vehicles. HTH.
HPP or Sport models handle better. The rear air suspension adjusts to load very nicely and larger anti-sway bars and special shocks help a lot too. The air suspension is heavy-duty on these models, but even with the “regular” air suspension you get a nice progressive spring rate. They are reliable and inexpensive vehicles that take a real pounding on pot-holed urban streets.