The Richmond Police Department's new SUV cruisers are more fuel efficient and roomy than the department's current vehicles, chief James Ebert said.

The Richmond Police Department purchased new SUV cruisers that entered service this week.

The new cruisers are more fuel efficient than the current police interceptors, chief James Ebert said. The SUVs also are more roomy and have more storage space, the chief added.

The cruisers also are safer in inclement weather because they are all-wheel drive.

Though the city's 2017-2018 budget allotted $378,000 for new cruisers for the department, the five cruisers came in at a cost of $186,776, Richmond city manager Richard Thomas said.

That cost, which includes the cost of the cruisers and the cost to fully equip them, breaks down to about $37,000 per cruiser.

Replacing a number of vehicles each year is his goal going forward, Ebert said, adding that five years is the average life span of a police cruiser.

About half the department's fleet was replaced in 2013. The department purchased 33 2014 cruisers and seven unmarked vehicles for detectives, narcotics officers and administrative officers.

In November the year before, the Richmond City Commission approved borrowing $1.2 million at 1.15 percent interest from U.S. Bancorp for five years to purchase the 40 police cars.

Since a vote by the Richmond City Commission in November 2016, Richmond Police officers have been able to drive cruisers home within a 25-mile radius even if they live outside the county. Commissioners noted at the time that the move could help recruit more officers to the department.

Reach Kelly McKinney at 624-6626; follow her on Twitter @kellymckinney18.

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