This is a wonderful question, and one which we are happy to answer.
Public Safety currently operates one Chevrolet Tahoe (SUV) and one Ford Crown Victoria (sedan). Gas mileage is a big consideration when replacing a vehicle.
It may surprise our readers to learn that the Tahoe, according to estimates on the Chevrolet web site, averages 19-20 miles per gallon. The Crown Victoria, according to Ford's web site, averages 18 miles per gallon. This surprised us when we started researching fuel-efficient vehicles several years ago. Of course, mileage varies with adding equipment, and we don't operate on the highway very often, but certainly even if the gas mileages estimated by the manufacturers are off by a mile or two per gallon, the two vehicles are still very comparable.
The SUVs (Tahoes) have a marked advantage over the sedan-type cruisers. Our officers carry quite a bit of equipment, including keys, paperwork, an AED, motor vehicle battery packs, full medical kits, and more. We also very often have passengers, some of whom are on crutches, and the Crown Victoria does not have the same passenger and cargo capacity.
Another important consideration is that our vehicles must be operable 24x7, seven days a week despite the weather. The Crown Victoria has to be parked if the roadways are snow-covered as they do not have the traction the SUVs have. Due to these benefits, we are actually planning on replacing the Crown Victoria we currently own with a second Tahoe as we had two years ago; the benefits are just too important to providing continuous service to our community.
The Department is researching SUV hybrid options, to join those in the college's Fleet. However, the costs are significantly higher than the costs for traditional SUVs which would put too much stress on the college's already escalating vehicle replacement budget.
Additionally, we try to further reduce fuel costs by providing a variety of other methods of patrol, including foot patrol and bicycle patrol, fueled only by human effort, and Segway patrol, fueled by an on-board electric battery. The only down side to these methods is they are weather-dependent to some degree, and depend on having enough staffing to be able to efficiently respond to emergencies.