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Why FWD?

 
Old 04-14-2005, 08:54 AM
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Default Why FWD?

A little off topic, but...

Why have so many automakers produced front wheel drive cars in the last 20 or so years? Just about everything has gone FWD. I hate FWD, not just from an ease of maintenance standpoint but from a driving standpoint. You're asking a lot of your car (and the tires) to drive the front wheels and turn at the same time. It's so much easier and more fun to drive a RWD car. I wouldn't have even bought my S2000 if it was FWD.

BMW, MB, some Lexus models, and Jag are the only ones I know that are RWD. I just don't understand why all the automakers decided to go FWD. I'd be interested in more Honda vehicles (Accord, last version of the Prelude, etc.) if they were RWD. Does anyone know the answer?

Warren
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Old 04-14-2005, 09:04 AM
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i BELIEVE it is cheaper, and if i recall correctly although im not sure, the american auto makers pushed some campaign to convince the public that it was safer too due to its cost effectivness..we are just starting to see more cars come out rwd as the public warms to them
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Old 04-14-2005, 09:29 AM
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cheaper, easier packaging, and safer for the average joe. nothing wrong with FWD. most cars are people mover - FWD is fine for people mover.
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Old 04-14-2005, 09:29 AM
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I think the over-litigeousness of the US within the past 2-3 decades has a lot to do with the poularity of FWD among automakers. FWD inherantly fails safe in emergency manuvers. i.e. If you are going too fast and you try to turn, it just understeers in a nearly straight-line. In a RWD car, a driver is more likely to spin and loose control of the car in a more dangerous way.

FWD also has a big advantage in winter conditions over RWD in the states that get snow (read: most states).

Andrew
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Old 04-14-2005, 09:43 AM
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Bad weather driving and packaging are the two biggest reasons I can think of. It makes it much easier to configure the passenger compartment if there is no driveshaft tunnel. Also gives you more and cheaper options for the rear suspension. New traction control devices have allowed RWD cars to do much better in adverse weather.

BTW, all Cadillacs will be RWD shortly.

Got to love the American car industry. Just got all the big hp RWD sedans out in time for the gas crunch. Wonder how long it will take them to get the next round of economy cars launched?
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Old 04-14-2005, 09:58 AM
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I read somewhere that American car manufacturers started to make the move to FWD in the late 70's because of the rising gas prices and because of less drivetrain losses associated with FWD cars.

As of recently with the horsepower wars going on, FWD just isn't up to the task of handling all of the power. So thats the reason alot of American manufacturers are going back to RWD.
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Old 04-14-2005, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by WarrenW,Apr 14 2005, 11:54 AM
BMW, MB, some Lexus models, and Jag are the only ones I know that are RWD.
You also have (that are current or recent) Mazda Miata and RX-8 (and every rotary-powered Mazda ever made: R100, RX-2, 3, 4, Cosmo, Rx-7), Nissan 240SX and 350Z (and all previous Z's), the upcoming Pontiac/Saturn Soltice/Sky, Toyota MR-2 and defunct/upcoming Supra, Mustang, GTO, Prowler, SSR, Viper, GT-40, Corvette, the defunct Camaro/Firebird, new Cadillacs, all Porsches, all Lotus (minus 90's Elan), NSX, all exotic sports cars (Aston Martin, Ferrari/Maserati, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Pagani, etc etc), just about all pickup trucks (non 4WD), almost all SUV's (non 4WD), and a few others that we don't get here or I just can't remember.

As said above, FWD is fine for people movers, and most people don't care or know the difference anyway. The cars I mentioned have a special niche or purpose (performance, off-roading or hauling stuff), so the extra expense of RWD is justified by most buyers.
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Old 04-14-2005, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Slithr,Apr 14 2005, 11:43 AM
Got to love the American car industry. Just got all the big hp RWD sedans out in time for the gas crunch. Wonder how long it will take them to get the next round of economy cars launched?
Big horsepower does not always mean bad fuel economy. The corvette with 400 hp gets ~28mpg highway and the 300c with 340hp and variable displacement gets 25 mpg highway. Both of those cars generate more horsepower and get better fuel economy than my turbocharged 2.0L. New technology is letting us have our cake and eat it too.
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Old 04-14-2005, 10:21 AM
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good point, wombat....
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Old 04-14-2005, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by aklucsarits,Apr 14 2005, 11:29 AM
FWD also has a big advantage in winter conditions over RWD in the states that get snow (read: most states).

Andrew
That's a pretty broad statement. While it is true that you have an initial traction advantage (more weight on the drive wheels as long as you're not accelerating), the fact is, when you're trying to turn and accelerate in the snow, it only excerbates the big problem with FWD - you're asking it to do two very important things at the same time. RWD doesn't have that problem - you're only steering up front while the rears push you.

RWD is trickier in the snow, but to a good driver, it is (in my opinion) superior. It's also more fun. Of course, dedicated snow tires are a must for FWD or RWD!
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