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Dodge Fever


May 9, 2011
By Dave Brown

672 words – MRInches can mean a lotImpressions on the 2011 Dodge Charger Pursuitby Dave Brown It’s a matter of inches. A few here or there make all the difference in the world. Too few inches of shoulder room and Chevrolet doesn’t sell as many Impalas as it hoped. A few inches short in interior dimensions and Ford has an uphill battle selling its 2012 police vehicle, built essentially on a crossover platform. But sometimes, an inch is all you need, especially when your name is Jeff Boyce and you hit your apex within a quarter of an inch, lap after lap, consistently. One can see why race driver Boyce is behind the wheel of the all-new 2011 Dodge Charger Pursuit (and not your humble Blue Line police vehicles writer). This guy is awesome. Chrysler provided Boyce and two other high-performance driving instructors and four brand-new Dodge Charger Pursuits for testing at the recent . I should have suspected that I was in for a ride when the first thing Boyce asked was, “Do you get car sick?” “Well… no Jeff… so let’s really wring this thing out.” Test it we did. I lasted one corner before honestly thinking we were going to die. The track the Chrysler folks had set up for us was short and tight; perfect for testing acceleration, braking and handling balance. We were hard on the gas out of the gate, a quick dogbone left/right and then heavy braking into corner one. Watching the corner cones approaching way too fast, I thought we were going to launch into the weeds (actually, the next parking lot over) but suddenly it was as if the universe dropped an anchor the size of the Titanic behind us and we easily made it through the 90-degree bend. All I could stammer was, “Wow! Great brakes.” “They all say that,” Boyce replied. Yeah, I can see why. Lap after lap we circled the tight track and I was impressed with not only the immense braking power but also the neutral handling. When I had my turn behind the wheel, my initial impressions were right on; this thing has amazing brakes and incredible balance. Not once did I find myself fighting with the electronic stability control programming. With the introduction of the all-new 2011 Charger, it is nice to see Dodge getting serious about the police market. Since the Charger introduction in 2006, Dodge has made great strides in the reliability department and with the redesign in 2011, has greatly improved outward visibility. The windshield is now more aerodynamic and cuts farther back into the roof; the side windows are a three-window design instead of two and the front grill is more angled, allowing a significantly lowered hoodline. I certainly did not feel cramped in any way, even though I was looking through the side windows about as often as the windshield as we circled the test track. Inside, the column-mounted shifter and wide console area translates into officers never bumping heads or rubbing shoulders. The Dodge has significantly more shoulder room than the all-new Ford Police Interceptor Sedan scheduled to be introduced in early 2012. (Lest you think I am overly critical, the new Ford is only slightly larger outside than a Honda Accord, and inside a Honda beats the Ford in nearly every interior dimension, including front shoulder room, leg room, head room, hip room and overall passenger volume.) The other unknown horse in the race is, of course, Chevrolet’s Australian-built Caprice PPV. It uses a console shifter but, despite early rumours to the contrary, GM is moving the shifter forward to leave room for equipment. So until we get a chance to test the new Ford and Caprice, Dodge is the way to go, at least as far as those critical few inches here and there. Dodge has a long and proud history of building cars for the police market and it’s nice to see the Charger design has matured significantly. Welcome back Dodge; we missed you.