A Michigan State Police driver takes a 2010 Ford CVPI around the track at the Chrysler Proving Grounds during 2009 testing. Photo courtesy of Michigan State Police.
This year's evaluations of 2011 model-year patrol vehicles in Michigan and Los Angeles should be history making when the rubber hits the testing track.
This fall, the Michigan State Police and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department will evaluate a crop of new patrol vehicles from each of the Detroit automakers.
In late September, the Michigan State Police Precision Driving Unit's law enforcement drivers will put themselves behind the wheel of new police vehicles from Ford, General Motors/Chevrolet and Chrysler Dodge during testing and evaluation.
State police drivers will get a first crack at General Motors' Chevrolet Caprice PPV, Ford's 2012 Taurus Police Interceptor and Police Interceptor Utility, a pair of new Dodge Chargers and Kawasaki's Concours 14P motorcycle.
Ford's inclusion of its Taurus-based patrol car introduced in March as a concept vehicle may be a signal the company wants to keep pace with General Motors in a law enforcement market where the Blue Oval claims about 75 percent of the law enforcement market.
The new Ford Police Interceptor will arrive in all-wheel and front-wheel versions, yet only the all-wheel version will be evaluated. However, the driving unit will also test the 3.5-liter EcoBoost, V-6 twin-turbocharged, direct-injection engine rated at 365 hp.
Overall, 14 patrol cars, the pursuit-rated Chevy Tahoe and four motorcycles will be evaluated for acceleration, top speed, and brake testing on Sept. 18 at the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Mich.
The vehicles will also be put through high-speed handling tests, on Sept. 20, to simulate pursuit conditions at Grattan Raceway.
In addition to the new patrol cars, Michigan State Police drivers will also test the two versions of the 4.6L V6 Ford Crown Vic Police Interceptor (3.27 and 3.55 rear-axle ratios); 5.7L V8 Dodge Charger; 3.6L V6 Dodge Charger; and 3.9L V6 Chevrolet Impala. The pursuit-rated 5.7L V8 Chevrloet Tahoe SUV will also be evaluated.
Other motorcycles include the BMW R1200 RTP; H-D Electra Glide FLHTP; and H-D Road King FLHP. Despite the growing popularity of Honda's SP1300 sport bike among West Coast agencies, the manufacturer doesn't submit a vehicle to the agency for testing.
Statistical results from the tests are compiled and published in an annual report used by law enforcement fleet managers when purchasing patrol vehicles.
Read our coverage of Michigan State Police unit's evaluation of 2010 model police vehicles.