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2008 Michigan Vehicle Tests

The state police put 2008 cars and motorcycles through their paces. Here's what they discovered.

December 01, 2007  |  by Steve Ashley - Also by this author

Speed and Acceleration Testing

Acceleration and top speed testing were rated in increments. Each vehicle's acceleration performance was measured in increments of 10 mph; so the first test was from 0 to 20 mph, the next from 0 to 30 mph, and so on, up to 0 to 100 mph, then a top speed was recorded.

Test numbers were pretty close from vehicle to vehicle, but the Dodge vehicles were the clear winners.

In the general service category, the Dodge Magnum 5.7 liter was quickest in the first three test brackets (0 to 20, 0 to 30, 0 to 40 mph) followed closely by the Dodge Charger 5.7 liter, then the Ford Police Interceptor 3.55 4.6 liter. The Dodge Charger 5.7 liter took the next six test brackets, followed by the Dodge Magnum 5.7 liter. In other words, the two Dodges were number one and two in every test bracket. The Dodge Charger 5.7 liter also took top speed honors (148 mph), with the number two slot going to the Chevrolet Impala 9CI 3.9 liter (142 mph).

It was interesting how the gap widened as the vehicles accelerated. At 0 to 30 mph, the Dodge 5.7 liter vehicles were at 2.52 and 2.55 seconds respectively, and at 0 to 100 mph, they were at 15.19 and 15.82 respectively. In contrast, the third and fourth vehicles were at 2.94 and 3.02 in the 0 to 30 mph bracket, but at 21.61 and 21.68 in the 0-100 mph bracket.

In the special service category, the results were spread out a little more. The first two test brackets were shared by the Ford Explorer 4.6 liter and the Ford Expedition 5.4 liter, with the Explorer taking the number one spot in brackets 0 to 20 mph up through 0 to 100 mph. The Expedition took the number two slot in the 0 to 30 mph, 0 to 40 mph and 0 to 50 mph brackets but then moved to number three behind the Chevrolet Suburban three-quarter-ton for the remaining brackets up through 0 to 90 mph. The Expedition took second place in the 0 to 100 mph bracket. The fastest special service vehicle was the Ford Expedition 5.4 liter, at 105 mph, while the Ford Explorer 4.6 liter came in second, at 104 mph. Three vehicles topped out at less than 100 mph: the Chevrolet Tahoe (4WD) at 97.3 mph, Chevrolet Suburban three-quarter-ton at 97 mph, and Ford F-150 5.4 liter, at 95 mph.

60 to 0 Brake Testing

Braking was tested a little differently than last year. Vehicles were tested for braking capability in order to calculate their projected stopping distance from 60 mph.

In the general service category, the winner was the Dodge Magnum 3.5 liter with a stopping distance of 136.0 feet, followed by the Dodge Magnum 5.7 liter at 141.1 feet. The longest stopping distance was 148.0 feet by the Ford Police Interceptor 3.55 4.6 liter.

In the special service category, the Ford F-150 Super Crew Cab 5.4 liter took the honors, at 147.3 feet, followed by the Chevrolet Suburban three-quarter-ton at 156.4 feet. The longest stopping distance recorded was 173.7 feet, by the Chevrolet Tahoe (4WD) 5.3 liter.

Vehicle Dynamics Testing

As mentioned, vehicle dynamics testing was limited to the general purpose vehicles. The track is two miles long, and each vehicle was driven a minimum of eight laps by each of four drivers for a total of 32 laps each. The score is the combined average of each driver's five fastest laps (for a total of 20 laps per vehicle).

Two Dodge vehicles earned top scores, with the Dodge Charger 5.7 liter coming in at an average time of 1:37.77, and the Dodge Magnum 5.7 liter at 1:37.94. The Ford Police Interceptors were a little slower, at 1:40.59 and 1:40.70 respectively. The slowest in this test was the Chevrolet Tahoe PPV (2WD), at 1:43.82.

It is interesting to note, however, that the spread is only 6.05 seconds from the slowest to the fastest vehicle, which says a lot about the dynamic handling characteristics of all the vehicles tested.

At presstime, all of these scores were preliminary, pending the release of the MSP final report. More detailed results of the testing can be downloaded from the Michigan State Police Website ( There are spreadsheets available in PDF format, containing all test results for each vehicle. Ultimately, the entire test report will be generated and published, as it has been in years past.

Over the past quarter-century, the data gleaned from the MSP vehicle tests have proven to be a fair and reliable source of information for police administrators from countless departments. It's only through the dedication and commitment of the MSP Troopers and support staff that this testing is possible, and they are performing an invaluable service for the law enforcement community.


The Two-Wheeler Tests

This was the second year that the Michigan State Police decided to test motorcycles. Both Harley-Davidson and BMW brought bikes for consideration, and the testing was conducted at the Michigan State Police Precision Driver Training Facility on Sunday Sept. 16. Three machines were tested:

  • BMW R1200RTP
  • Harley-Davidson Police Road King
  • Harley-Davidson Police Electra Glide

In the acceleration and top speed testing, the BMW was the clear winner, although the Harley-Davidson Police Road King bested it by .01 seconds in the 0 to 20 mph bracket (1.29 and 1.30 seconds, respectively). From then on, the BMW was consistently faster in every test bracket, finishing with a 0 to 100 mph time of 10.01 seconds. The Harley-Davidson Police Road King gained second in every test bracket, turning in a 0 to 100 mph time of 25.44 seconds. The Electra Glide was third on every test, with a 0 to 100 mph time of 26.05 seconds. Top speeds were 130.9 for the BMW, 109.1 for the Road King, and 106.2 for the Electra Glide.

The BMW also took first in the Braking Test, with a projected stopping distance from 60 mph of 139.0 feet. The Harley-Davidson Police Road King score was 171.4 feet, and the Harley-Davidson Police Electra Glide score was 173.3 feet.

Riders also tested each machine's ability to come to a stop from 40 mph while negotiating a transitional surface, from one type of surface to another. In this case, the test traversed a dry surface onto a wet surface. This was meant to simulate a situation where a motor officer may leave the roadway and have to brake while moving onto a slicker roadside surface. In this test, the BMW excelled again, with a projected stopping distance from 40 mph of 98.0 feet. The Harley-Davidson Police Electra Glide was next with 125.6 feet, followed by the Harley-Davidson Police Road King with a score of 136.0 feet.

Finally, each machine completed a vehicle dynamics test similar to that used to test the patrol cars. Here, a road course which included curves and a switchback-over nine-tenths of a mile-was negotiated by four riders doing six laps each. Each rider's best five laps were averaged, then the four riders' averages were again averaged to get a cumulative average for each machine (for a total of 20 averaged laps per machine).

The BMW took honors, with a combined average of 5:49.4. The Harley-Davidson Police Road King was next at 6:17.4, followed by the Harley-Davidson Police Electra Glide at 6:19.0.

Steve Ashley is a retired officer and has been a police trainer for 20 years. He conducts use-of-force and driving classes at a Michigan academy.

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