At this year's MSP testing the officers of the Precision Driving Unit evaluated the vehicles for acceleration, top speed, braking, ergonomics, communications, and fuel economy at the Chrysler Proving Grounds. A separate vehicle dynamics evaluation was also completed at Grattan Raceway Park's two-mile course in nearby Belding. The Grattan course simulates maneuvers officers perform during pursuits.
For the most part, testing protocols didn't change this year, except for the use of an optical sensor to more precisely monitor braking distance. To gather the data, the sensor sends a beam of light onto the pavement from an opening in a small square black box that's mounted to the vehicle's door panel.
When results were posted, the new models raised 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.
VIDEO: MSP Tests the 2011 Chevy Caprice PPV
The performance of the 2011 Chevrolet Caprice PPV was so impressive that it led General Motors executives to later declare their plan to "flip" Ford's market dominance. Overall, the six Chevrolet vehicles topped the charts for speed.
The 6.0-liter, V8 Caprice (run on E85 flex fuel, as well as regular) captured the top speed, as police drivers of the car reached 148 mph on the 4.8-mile raceway in Chelsea. Close behind was the 2011 Dodge Charger Pursuit powered by a 5.7-liter V8 that reached 146 mph. Upgrades to the new Charger from the 2010 model year include more aggressive lines, hood scalloping, and more cockpit room for officer gear and components.
Chevrolet's 3.9-liter Impala (E85 and regular) and 5.3-liter Chevrolet Tahoe PPV (E85 and regular) recorded top speeds of 139/138 mph and 139/139 mph respectively.
Ford's 2012 Police Interceptors were next. The three sedans reached 131 mph. Ford's 3.5-liter V6 P.I. Utility with all-wheel drive reached 119.
VIDEO: MSP Tests the 2012 Ford P.I. Utility
Dodge's 3.6-liter Charger with a new V6 Pentastar engine that boosts horsepower from the 2010 V6 reached 130 mph. And Ford's Crown Victoria Police Interceptors with 3.27 and 3.55 rear-axle ratios reached 129 mph and 110 mph respectively.
The Caprice with a 6.0-liter V8 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's V8 reached the mark in 6.24 seconds, while the V-6 needed 8.65 seconds.
Ford executives observing the tests were smiling when the 0-60 results were announced for their 2012 Police Interceptor with the 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine. The all-wheel-drive vehicle logged a 6.27-second time, which puts it on par with its V8 competitors.
As a means of comparison, the Ford Crown Vic Police Interceptor with a 4.6-liter V8 that will be offered in 2011 for the final year reached 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 V6 and EcoBoost turbo V6 with direct injection. Ford's second new police vehicle, the Ford P.I. Utility that also arrives with the 3.5-liter V6, reached 0-60 in 8.74 seconds.
Rounding out the acceleration test were Chevy's vehicles. The Impala reached 60 mph in 8.68 seconds on E85 fuel and 8.78 seconds on unleaded. The Tahoe running E85 needed 8.24 seconds and 8.7 on regular.