GM's Chevrolet division will produce a police-only Caprice for the 2011 model year. Photo courtesy of General Motors.
New patrol cars arriving in 2011 and 2012 from the Detroit automakers are raising the bar from existing models in ways that will matter most to officers — quicker off-the-line acceleration, more responsive braking and cockpit layout/ergonomics.
During the Michigan State Police's annual testing, which was covered live by POLICE Magazine in Chelsea on Sept. 18, the Chevrolet Caprice and 2012 Ford Police Interceptor sedans were the top four-wheel performers, according to preliminary results.
The state police Precision Driving Unit put the 14 four-wheel vehicles through acceleration, braking, high-speed handling, and other tests.
With law enforcement agencies around the country implementing more restrictive policies governing officer pursuits, it isn't as neccesary for a patrol car to hit 150 mph. However, a few cars nearly reached that top speed. The Caprice can lay claim as the top-speed winner, as drivers of the car reached 148 mph on the 4.8-mile raceway at the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea. The 2011 Dodge Charger Pursuit with a 5.7-liter V-8 topped out at 146 mph.
The Caprice with a 6.0-liter V-8 was the quickest starter in the 0-60 mph category, hitting that mark in 6.14 seconds running E-85 flex fuel and 6.18 running regular unleaded. The Dodge Charger Pursuit reached the mark in 6.24 seconds.
Ford executives observing the tests were smiling, when 0-60 results were announced for their 2012 Police Interceptor with 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine. The all-wheel-drive vehicle logged a 6.27-second time, which puts it on par with its V-8 competitors.
As a means of comparison, the Ford Crown Vic Police Interceptor with a 4.6-liter V-8 that will be offered in 2011 for the final year, reached 129 mph and 119 mph and 0-60 mph in 9.01 and 8.87 seconds (with a rear-axle ratio of 3.27 and 3.55 respectively).
Ford is offering its 2012 sedan in front- and all-wheel drive with the 3.5-liter V-6 and EcoBoost turbo. Ford's second new police vehicle, the Ford PI Utility that also arrives with the 3.5-liter V-6, reached 119 mph and reached 0-60 in 8.74 seconds.
The new crop of patrol vehicles are also offering more grippy braking, as these cars shaved off stopping distance in Michigan State Police testing measuring stopping from 60-0 mph.
Ford's interceptors will arrive with police-specific brakes that offer rotors with more surface area and a larger pad than the Crown Vic. The larger rotor could be added because the vehicle upgrades to an 18-inch wheel from the Crown Vic's 17-inch wheel.
Ford's all-wheel-drive interceptor (non-turbo) needed 126.6 feet to reach a dead stop from 60 mph, an improvement of 15 feet over the Crown Vic. The Chevy Caprice was nearly its equal, stopping in 128.3 feet, 11.5 feet shorter than the Chevy Impala.
The 5.7-liter Dodge Charger shaved 10 feet from the 2010 model, needing 133.9 feet to stop.
It should be mentioned that these results are preliminary. The Michigan State Police typically release their official results in late October or early November. And because Ford's vehicles are still in the development phase, the agency won't publish the results this year.
Because POLICE Magazine attended the testing, our readers get a "sneak peak" at the data on the Ford vehicles.
Look for more in-depth coverage of the testing in our December print issue. Also, check back in this blog space in the next few days for preliminary results from the testing of four motorcycles.
And view our archive of Michigan State Police testing from past years.