Several law enforcement vehicles reached top speeds exceeding 150 mph during the annual Michigan State Police tests of patrol vehicles available to agencies for the 2012 model year.
The Dodge Charger Pursuit, Chevrolet Caprice PPV, and Chevrolet Impala crossed that threshold for the first time. A year ago, police drivers behind the wheel of the Caprice PPV reached a top speed of 148 mph.
The blazing speeds came at Chrysler's proving grounds in Chelsea, Mich., on Saturday, as fleet purchasing representatives and law enforcement officers watched the MSP Precision Driving Unit test 18 patrol vehicles from Ford, Chrysler, Chevrolet, Harley-Davidson, BMW, Kawasakik, and Victory Motorcycles.
Each year, the precision driving unit evaluates law enforcement vehicles submitted by the automakers. This year, the unit tested 12 four-wheel patrol vehicles and six motorcycles. Additionally, seven of the 12 sedans and Chevy's Tahoe SUV were run on E85 fuel.
Notably absent from the test was the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. For the first time in two decades, the state police didn't test a Ford CVPI, which ceased production in the 2011 model year. The final Ford CVPI — a 4.6-liter V-8 with a 3.27 rear-axle ratio — reached a top speed of 129 mph a year ago.
Ford did bring its pair of 2012 Police Interceptors — the Ford P.I. sedan (3.5-liter V-6 in front-wheel and all-wheel drive) and Ford P.I. Utility (3.7-liter V-6, front- and all-wheel).
The new crop of vehicles represent a leap forward in performance, braking, and fuel economy from the Crown Vic, evaluators said.
"We're looking at the best group of cars we've ever had for law enforcement," said Lt. Keith Wilson, who oversees the vehicle testing. "There are going to be a lot of fleet managers who need to make purchasing decisions. The test results may be more important than ever before because of that.
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 its 2011 mark of 148 mph. Chevrolet has upgraded its 2012 Impala with a 3.6-liter V-6 rated for 302 hp (adding 70 hp and a six-speed transmission). The vehicle surprised attendees of the tests, reaching 150 mph with E85 fuel.
Lastly, the Charger in 2.65 and 3.06 axle ratios reached 152 mph and 151 mph respectively. The 3.06-geared vehicle also recorded the quickest 0-60 mph time of 5.83 seconds.
With the exit of the Ford Crown Vic and agencies searching for a replacement patrol car for officers, vehicle manufacturers expect to sell more than 40,000 vehicles to law enforcement in 2012. More than 13 million vehicles are expected to be sold in the United States this year.
"I see us selling more vehicles," said Dana Hammer, General Motors' manager of law enforcement vehicles. "I see us growing that volume. There's going to be more opportunity in the market."
By Paul Clinton