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2012 Michigan Vehicle Tests: Patrol Cars

Fleet managers are attending evaluation runs and crunching the numbers to see which of three outstanding new patrol vehicles best suit their needs.

November 11, 2011  |  by

Chevrolet Caprice PPV. Photo: Michigan State Police
Chevrolet Caprice PPV. Photo: Michigan State Police

Watching Them Run

While purchase decisions are usually made away from the track, that didn't stop fleet purchasers from eagerly discussing the vehicles at the recent Michigan State Police evaluations.

At this year's MSP testing, the troopers of the Precision Driving Unit evaluated 12 four-wheel vehicles on acceleration, top speed, braking, ergonomics, communications, and fuel economy. Seven of the 12 sedans and Chevy's Tahoe SUV were run on E85 fuel.

The tests were conducted from Sept. 17-20 at the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Mich. A separate vehicle dynamics evaluation was completed at Grattan Raceway Park's two-mile course in nearby Belding.

The 2012 vehicles improved on the performance of the 2011 model-year vehicles with the Dodge Charger Pursuit, Chevrolet Caprice PPV, and Chevrolet Impala crossing the 150 mph top-speed mark for the first time. A year ago, police drivers behind the wheel of the Caprice PPV reached a top speed of 148 mph. A vehicle that can reach 150 mph certainly presents officer safety concerns, yet officers may sleep more soundly knowing the capabilities these new vehicles bring to the table.

During the annual MSP testing, the higher-torque Dodge Charger Pursuit (5.7-liter, V-8) and Chevrolet Caprice PPV (6.0-liter, V-8) were top performers for 0-60 mph and top speed, according to preliminary results. The Caprice also scored highest in the braking test.

The 2012 Chevy Caprice (6.0-liter, V-8) took the top-speed crown for the second year in a row, reaching 154 mph and surpassing the 148 mph time recorded by the initial model. Chevrolet upgraded its Impala for 2012 by adding a 3.6-liter, V-6 rated for 302 hp. The modifications add 70 horsepower, and the new souped up Impalas also feature a six-speed transmission. The new Impala reached 150 mph with E85 fuel.

Ford's Taurus-based Police Interceptor with all-wheel drive and a turbo-charged 3.5-liter V-6 reached 148 mph, and the Ford Police Interceptor Utility in front-and all-wheel drivetrains reached 131 mph. Lastly, the Charger in 2.65 and 3.06 rear-axle ratios reached 152 mph and 151 mph, respectively.

The 3.06-geared Charger vehicle also recorded the quickest 0-60 mph time of 5.83 seconds. Dodge first brought the pair of rear-axle vehicles to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's test a year ago.

While the higher-torque Charger recorded the fastest 0-60 mph time, other vehicles weren't far behind. Other top performers included the Caprice (5.91 seconds), Ford's all-wheel drive, turbo-charged Police Interceptor (5.92 seconds), and the 2.65-geared Charger (5.95 seconds).

Stopping On a Dime

The 2012 vehicles improved upon the overall performance of the 2011 models, including some incremental strides in braking performance.

A year ago, Ford's all-wheel-drive Interceptor (non-turbo) led the field by reaching a dead stop from 60 mph in 126.6 feet, which was an improvement of 15 feet over the Crown Vic. This year, the Chevy Caprice V-8 was the quickest stopper, needing 125.8 feet to reach a standstill in the MSP test. Chevy's V-6 Caprice stopped in 126.2 feet. Ford's top braking vehicle was the front-wheel drive P.I. Utility (3.7-liter, V-6) needing 128.4 feet. The V-6 Charger needed 127 feet.

The Michigan State Police typically release their official results in late October or early November. Also, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department tests vehicles in November.

The year's tests were held Sept. 17-20 and included 18 vehicles submitted by Chrysler/Dodge, Ford, General Motors/Chevrolet, BMW, Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki, and Victory Motorcycles.

General Service Vehicles:

Chevrolet Caprice 6.0 liter

Chevrolet Caprice E85 6.0 liter

Chevrolet Caprice 3.6 liter

Chevrolet Caprice E85 3.6 liter

Chevrolet Impala 3.6 liter

Chevrolet Impala E85 3.6 liter

Chevrolet Tahoe PPV 2WD 5.3 liter

Chevrolet Tahoe PPV 2WD E85 5.3 liter

Dodge Charger 3.6 liter (2.65 rear axle)

Dodge Charger 3.6 liter (3.07 rear axle)

Dodge Charger 5.7 liter (2.65 rear axle)

Dodge Charger 5.7 liter (3.06 rear axle)

Ford Police Interceptor FWD 3.5 liter

Ford Police Interceptor AWD 3.5 liter

Ford Police Interceptor AWD E85 3.5 liter

Ford Police Interceptor AWD 3.5 liter turbo

Ford P.I. Utility FWD 3.7 liter

Ford P.I. Utility AWD E85 3.7 liter

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