Front Wheel Drive Trucks

Why is that most vehicles can have front wheel drive with the option for four wheel drive at the click of a transfer case/hubs yet light and medium trucks are not afforded that option?

Anyone that lives and drives in “snow country” like Syracuse, NY knows that front wheel drive vehicles always perform better. The justification that front wheel drive is less rigorous to me and even if that could be proven, the four wheel option could always be there.

Most two wheel drive pickups are gutless wonders in snow so why not reverse the option and still afford ALL the advantages of four wheel drive while improving the day to day driving ability of two wheel?

FWD has certain advantages, and it has certain disadvantages.
In the case of a truck, the major disadvantage would be the fact that loading the bed of the truck would disrupt the weight distribution unfavorably. Traction–especially on an upgrade or on a slippery surface would be severely impaired.

After you loaded the bed of a FWD truck, the front wheels would not have good traction.
For a similar situation, read up on the original FWD L-29 Cord sedans of the late '20 to early '30s. They were expensive, luxurious, and seemingly well-engineered cars. Then, reality set in.

The engine of these original Cords was set so far back in the chassis that there was not enough weight on the front wheels to provide sufficient traction in many situations, and the problem was really severe when there were passengers in the rear seat.

Some owners reported that they could not climb their steep gravel-paved driveways. Groucho Marx reported that when attempting to drive slowly up a grassy hill, all he got was wheel-spin, and he sold his almost-new Cord L-29 shortly thereafter.

"Anyone that lives and drives in “snow country” like Syracuse, NY knows that front wheel drive vehicles always perform better."
I do and it’s absolutely false. FWD are useless going up grades in slippery conditions with weight in the back compared to their comparable rwd counterparts with weight in the back.

Right VDC…been there done that with the useless Rabbit PU;.
ANYONE who drives a PU knows why; if they actually use it as one.
It’s all about the weight over the drive wheels. ANY 2wd PU worth it’s salt will have superior handling characteristics and traction with sufficient weight in the back over unloaded.
With a FWD PU, the opposite would be true. The more weight you put in the back, the worse it would be until the wheels become unloaded and it’s absolutely useless. I would think after over 100 years of truck making, manufacturers would never forget their physics.
Other than having more weight over the drive wheels at take off on level ground in slippery conditions at low speeds, fwd cars have no handling advantages over rwd cars that I can think of. Help me ?

I should have qualified my discussion post by saying that I am thinking about the average consumer of SUV products rather than the professional construction/delivery owner. I agree that a loaded truck can drive and perform outstandingly but why limit the variables of which drive to use just because of traditional thinking?

I just think the auto industry is missing out on a huge population of buyers by not customizing what they offer to accommodate the needs of interested buyers.

Honda Ridgeline.

Towing capacity is almost also lower with front wheel drive because to the inherent design compromises that come with designing a front wheel drive transmission/transaxle. Front wheel drive transmissions are usually not as durable or robust as a rear wheel drive transmission is, generally speaking. Then as others have pointed out, there’s issue of weight distribution, particually if you have a heavy load in the bed or are towing anything. As far as day to day driving goes, in conditions other than snow, RWD is superior, unless you’re fan of understeer.

You’re right. In this day and age though, this thing runs in awd nearly all the time with any kind of a load when rwd bias is need, during any acceleration and any incline. The sophisticated systems of today in awd cars and trucks with sensors eliminate the situations where fwd is at a disadvantage. So it’s in fwd in very limited situations.
I can’t wait to start hear cop complaints about the fwd/awd Taurus cop car “wannabe”.
Some cops in those forces I’ve talked to are making plans to really stretch the years out in the rwd CV cars they have. The parts industry has to love this change over and watch all the police groupies jump on the Taurus band wagon. One of the big reasons for this move by Ford IMO.

Pickup trucks don’t need FWD if they are used properly. Carry a load and you will need nothing else. Pickups REQUIRE a solid REAR end for cargo. So, no go on the FWD. Who needs two heavy ends? With a load and FWD truck, you might not be able to move if you start uphill unless conditions are dry or you like burning off the front tires. If you intend to carry no load in snow with RWD, 4WD may be the way to go or you might want to use chains. FWD pickups today would be laughed off the planet. It’s as funny as trying to outrun the cops with a 74 Corolla.

"Pickups REQUIRE a solid REAR end for cargo. "
Good observations… if you want strength and the ability to retain your ground clearance. That’s why the advertised high clearance for an independently sprung Outback which looses it’s clearance under load, is nothing compared to that of a solid axle vehicle. Don’t be that impressed by Subaru’s numbers (and I still like the car over all).

VW used to make a small PU with FWD years ago, it was based on the rabbit platform. If there is more consumer demand a small PU could be built, no problem. It won’t have much towing capacity and the payload capacity in the rear will be much less than an F150 but it could be a practical vehicle for some folks.

Subaru makes an AWD version PU based off either the Impreza or Legacy Outback models. If Subaru made anything in just FWD then you’d have what you are looking for. I see a few of these around but they aren’t big sellers. I believe it is called the “Justy”.

You could take an old Civic or Accord to a customizer shop and have them chop off the top behind the driver’s seat and make a PU bed and tailgate for the back end. They will need to do some welding to reinforce the unibody construction, but it is doable.

Write to Ford and tell them you want a PU version of the Fusion. They can dig out the old “Ranchero” plans from the past and make a “retro” version of the old Falcon based Ranchero. GM copied with the Camino based off the Malibu and these car/pickups sold well for a few years. A what goes around comes around example. I would expect to see a few new versions of the Ranchero/Camino in the Home Depot or Lowe’s parking lot on any given weekend if there were made by the manufacturers.

“Subaru makes an AWD version PU based off either the Impreza or Legacy Outback models. If Subaru made anything in just FWD then you’d have what you are looking for. I see a few of these around but they aren’t big sellers. I believe it is called the “Justy”.”

Make that past tense, UT!
The vehicle that you were thinking of was the Subaru Baja, which was essentially an Outback with a pickup bed in the back, rather than the usual station wagon rear. Production of these vehicles ended several years ago.

Yea, Baja - that’s the name I couldn’t dig out.

I think interested buyers who want to buy a pickup truck that they don’t need because they want to be seen in a pickup truck are not going to buy anything smaller than a 1/4 ton full sized.

I also think that interested buyers who want the world to see them in a pickup truck can put some sandbags in the back during winter like everyone else. They can even pretend they’re haulin’ stuff. You know, real manly activities :wink:

I grew up north of Syracuse (Pulaski)…and I’d NEVER own a fwd pickup. When you add weight to a pickup it reduces the weight of the drive wheels. If RWD then adding weight will add weight to the drive wheels. fwd is great for cars…but NOT for pickups…For trucks or pickups…I’ll always own rwd/4wd vehicle…For cars…fwd is the only way to go.