With the Big Three Detroit auto companies reeling from the economic meltdown and Chevy and Chrysler begging Washington for money, there are no new models in the domestic patrol car market this year.
But that hasn't stopped the engineers at Chevrolet, Chrysler, and Ford from improving their existing law enforcement lines.
Here’s a quick look at cars certified as police pursuit vehicles for 2009 and some of the fine-tuning that the Big Three has done to make the cars better.
The 2009 Chevy Impala has a great new feature that can save the lives of many cops: side curtain airbags. Side impact collisions are particularly deadly and these airbags reduce the danger substantially. They also stay inflated longer than front airbags, in case the vehicle rolls over.
Available in two versions, patrol and undercover, the front-wheel drive Impala is powered by a 3.9-liter V-6 that produces 233 horsepower in most states, 233 horsepower in states with low emission requirements. At November’s Michigan State Police (MSP), it reached a top speed of 139 mph and a projected stopping distance from 60 mph of 144.2 feet.
Introduced in the 2007 model year, Chevy’s Tahoe PPV is the only SUV certified as a police pursuit vehicle. At the MSP tests, the Tahoe PPV operated on conventional gasoline hit a top speed of 132 mph. In the brake tests, evaluators showed a projected stopping distance of 143.2 feet. Not bad for a vehicle with a curb weight of 5,274 pounds.
The Charger comes in two versions: fast and really fast. The base Charger has 3.5-liter high-output V-6 engine that produces 250 horses at 6,400 RPM. The pavement burning version of the Charger has a 5.7-liter Hemi with fuel-saving Multi-Displacement System, and it generates 368 horses at 5,200 RPM. At the MSP test, the Hemi Charger hit a top speed of 146 mph, and it stopped at a projected 135.2 feet from 60 mph.
The Crown Victoria Police Interceptor keeps cruising right along as the most popular police vehicle in America. The 2009 model has some new features, including power adjustable pedals and side combo (head/thorax) airbags. The side airbags are not curtains, they are located in the seat and do not interfere with rear partitions. Another great safety feature is an improved braking system that stops the car an average of 10 feet faster.
The 4.6-liter Crown Vic generates 250 horsepower at 5,000 RPM. At the MSP tests, it hit a top speed of 128 mph. The new braking system gives the Crown Vic a projected stopping distance of 142.4 feet from 60 mph.
Ford reps say the company is working on its next generation of police vehicles. So stay tuned.