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December 7, 2014
By Corrie Sloot

Michigan State Police
2015 Police Vehicle Tests

by Dave Brown

The King is dead. Long live the, well, lots of choices.

With the demise of the Ford Crown Victoria (no one except security guards buying miled-out police cars ever called it by its proper name, the Ford Police Interceptor) there may be more choices on the police car market than ever before. Every vehicle is miles better than the big Ford, but nothing aside from the big Chevrolet Tahoe will ever touch the shoulder room of the Crown Vic.

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Police cars are getting smaller inside and out and we will all just have to get used to it. The last of the big V8 rear-drive sedans, the Australian-built Chevrolet Caprice, is not available in Canada again this year.

So for 2015, not only did Santa not bring us what we asked for in our stockings, but Chevrolet’s parent company General Motors announced that GM Holden, the Australian division that builds the Caprice PPV for the North American market, will cease production of all vehicles come 2018. No one knows yet what will become of the Caprice.

This may be just as well, because the Caprice is looking very dated compared to the competition.

Ford’s new Police Interceptor sedan (built on a Ford Taurus), and Police Interceptor Utility (built on a Ford Explorer), are both proving more popular than even we could predict.

Dodge seemed poised to take over the majority of the police car market with the demise of the Crown Vic but initial quality control problems appeared to turn early-production Dodge Chargers into shop queens. Reputedly, some Charger Pursuits were able to be driven off without the key if the officer with the fob in their pocket stood close enough, which probably caused more than one embarrassed phone call to the desk sergeant.

Dodge is aggressively charging after the police market. A succession of improvements, especially in braking and visibility, has succeeded in shedding many of those initial negative impressions. With the help of Fiat, Dodge restyled the Charger Pursuit for 2015, especially in the front end. What was the most aggressive-looking police car on the planet has now been softened into a bit of a cross between a Dodge Dart and an Audi.

Whether this new look will appeal to police agencies is yet to be seen but the Ford sedan, especially equipped with the reinforced front lightbar, is now the big head-turner, even when one isn’t doing something wrong. It may be smaller, lighter, less roomy inside and drive like your butt is scraping pavement but it LOOKS like a proper police car. Plus, with the new 3.5 liter Ecoboost twin-turbocharged V6, the Ford sedan is now the fastest accelerating police car in North America.

2015 is also the year where every manufacturer now offers an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive pursuit-rated police package vehicle. Police buyers now have a record number of choices in cars and configurations. All take careful consideration.

If agencies want to know which vehicles are going to be most popular with officers who ride in them as much as 12 hours a day, note in particular the ergonomic scores. These almost exactly match our informal surveys on the forums.

Here in Canada, the Tahoe is considered the most comfortable place to spend a shift, with the Charger not far behind. The third-rated Ford Police Interceptor Utility crossover SUV is more popular with officers than the sedan version, even though both are actually based on the same front-wheel-drive economy car platform. More than one Canadian agency is going exclusively with the Ford Utility for all patrol duties.

{Michigan State Police yearly vehicle tests}

Every fall the Michigan State Police (MSP), in conjunction with the US National Institute of Justice (NIJ), test the handling and performance of every new police vehicle on the market for the coming year in back-to-back acceleration, braking and lap time tests. These eagerly anticipated tests are seen as the most comprehensive analysis of police vehicles in North America.

The MSP publish the results on its web site at <www.michigan.gov/msp>, and Blue Line Magazine is once again reporting the preliminary figures. The MSP usually publishes final figures and a summary of all test results in February.

{Vehicles}

The NIJ and MSP evaluate police vehicles in two categories: police-package and special-service vehicles. Police-package vehicles (PPV) are designed for the full spectrum of general police activities including high-speed pursuit. Special-service vehicles (SSV) are designed only for specialized duties such as canine units or adverse weather conditions and are not intended or recommended for pursuits.

14 vehicles were submitted to the NIJ in the police-package category for 2015:

  • 2015 Chevrolet Caprice (3.6 litre V6 or 6.0 litre V8)
  • 2015 Chevrolet Impala 9C1 (3.6 litre V6)
  • 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe PPV (5.3 litre V8)
  • 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD PPV (5.3 litre V8)
  • 2015 Dodge Charger (3.6 litre V6 and standard 2.62:1 or optional 3.08:1 axle ratio)
  • 2105 Dodge Charger (5.7 litre V8 and standard 2.62:1 axle ratio)
  • 2015 Dodge Charger AWD (5.7 litre V8 and optional 3.07:1 axle ratio)
  • 2015 Ford Police Interceptor FWD sedan (3.5 litre V6)
  • 2015 Ford Police Interceptor AWD sedan (3.7 litre V6 or turbocharged 3.5 litre V6)
  • 2015 Ford Police Interceptor Utility AWD (3.7 litre V6 or turbocharged 3.5 litre V6)

Here is the lineup of PPVs available for sale in Canada for 2015 (with preliminary figures from the 2015 MiSP vehicle tests, and additional comments from .)

{Police-Package Vehicles}

Chevrolet

Police sales of the big Chevrolet Tahoe are still strong and General Motors introduced a police package four-wheel-drive (4WD) Tahoe for 2015. Agencies who appreciate the Tahoe for its room and adverse weather capability are going to be especially attracted to the new pursuit-rated 4WD version.

Unlike Dodge or Ford’s all-wheel-drive (AWD) systems, GM has a true switchable 4WD. One can drive in 2WD for best mileage and then switch to Automatic 4WD (A4WD) in variable conditions. In this setting, it is similar to on-demand AWD systems in that it can divert torque to the other axle when it detects slippage, but unlike the Dodge or Ford, in A4WD, the transfer case keeps five per cent of the torque always flowing to the front axle when engaged. This adds stability on slightly slippery or mixed surfaces and engages more torque to the front axle as more slippage is detected.

GM’s Autotrac 4WD system can also be switched to 4WD Hi setting, which locks front and rear axles together for true four-wheel-drive, or 4WD Lo, which switches the transfer case to low range for descending slippery slopes or crawling over rocks. Unlike older 4WD systems, officers can switch back and forth between 2WD, A4WD and 4WD Hi at any speed without slowing down or pausing to lock hubs.

GM is not selling the Chevrolet Caprice PPV in Canada, leaving the front-wheel-drive Impala 9C1 as its only sedan.

Dodge

Dodge has a long heritage of muscular police cars, and the 2015 Charger Pursuit continues that tradition. Offered with a 292-hp 3.6-liter V-6 or a 370-hp Hemi V-8, the rear-drive Charger is available in two rear-axle ratios. Dodge also sells a very fast 370-hp AWD version.

Specially sculpted seats, reinforced suspension, big beefy brakes and a relocated column shifter all differentiate the Pursuit from the civilian versions. An upgraded driver-focused cockpit includes a new gauge cluster with a seven-inch screen and a five-inch connected integrated information and entertainment system with standard Bluetooth.

The new front styling features an all-new grille, LED turn signals, Audi-styled LED daytime running lights and projector-beam headlamps. Rear-wheel-drive Chargers have a new electric power steering system, and all Chargers feature larger 14.5-in. front and 13.8-in. rear pursuit-rated brakes. Inside, the new steering wheel now has remappable auxiliary buttons that can be programmed to operate aftermarket police equipment. A rear backup camera and parking proximity sensors enhance rearward visibility.

Ford

Ford also offers both a rear backup camera and rear-mounted proximity sensors; both should be considered almost a necessity. While the front doors are tethered to prevent them opening more than 50-degrees when kicked in a hurry, the rear doors open at an inviting almost 90-degree angle.

Ninety seven per cent of all Ford police sales are AWD. The vehicles use a software-based AWD system to detect slippage and divert torque as required. The one substantial difference between this and the other two makes is that both sedan and utility SUV models are based on the same front-wheel-drive economy car platform. This means that the AWD system is biased to front-wheel-drive but can divert up to 100 per cent of the torque to either axle.

Ford reports 60 per cent of its police sales are the Police Interceptor Utility, and with the introduction of the AWD Utility’s 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged Ecoboost engine, officers are quickly forgetting the much larger Crown Vic. Aftermarket upfitters have responded with narrower center consoles and dog leg-shaped partitions that improve the room inside for both the sedan and SUV, leaving the only people still loving the old-tech Crown Victoria the aforementioned security guards.

{Police vehicle recall campaigns}

CHEVROLET – General Motors is recalling 38,000 2008-2012 Chevrolet Impala police cars in the U.S. and Canada because a part in the front suspension can crack. Chevy determined that the lower control arm could fracture near a bushing sleeve, causing sudden changes in handling that could make the driver lose control. If a fracture occurs, a squeal or chirp is likely to come from the tire area at low speeds. GM dealers will inspect and replace parts as necessary.

DODGE – Chrysler is recalling 10,000 2011-2012 Dodge Charger Pursuit police vehicles because an overheated lighting harness connector could cause the vehicle’s low beam headlights to fail. In addition, some Chargers may also suffer from an overheated power distribution center that could result in a loss of the vehicle’s anti-lock braking and stability control systems. Chrysler dealers will inspect and replace the affected parts as necessary.

FORD – Ford is recalling 92,000 2013-2014 models of the Ford Taurus, Flex, Police Interceptor, Lincoln MKS, MKT and 2014 MKX and 2012-2014 Ford Edge to correct potential issues with the right-side halfshaft. Vehicles could roll away even when the gearshift is in “Park” unless the parking brake is activated. Ford dealers will inspect the halfshaft and repair or replace as needed.

{The tests}

MSP and the NIJ’s National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) test all the vehicles together over a three-day period at the Chrysler Proving Grounds and the Grattan Raceway. Each vehicle is tested without rooftop lights, spotlights, sirens or radio antennas in place. Tires are original equipment rubber provided by the manufacturer.

Acceleration, braking and top speed tests are performed at the Chrysler proving ground and vehicle dynamics tests are done using Grattan’s two-mile road course. (All dimensions and measurements given are U.S. numbers.)

{The results}

Vehicle dynamics testing

The objective is to determine the high-speed pursuit handling characteristics. Except for the absence of traffic, the two-mile road course simulates actual pursuit conditions. It evaluates the blend of suspension components and acceleration and braking ability.

Four different drivers test each vehicle over an eight-lap road course, with the five fastest laps counting toward each driver’s average lap time. Final score is the combined average of all four drivers for each vehicle.

Acceleration and top speed

The objectives of the acceleration and top speed tests are to determine the ability of each vehicle to accelerate from a standing start to 60, 80 and 100 mph, and to record the top speed achieved within a distance of 14 miles from a standing start.

Each vehicle is driven through four acceleration sequences, two in each direction to allow for wind. Acceleration score is the average of the four tests. Following the fourth acceleration sequence, each vehicle continues to accelerate to its highest attainable speed within 14 miles of the standing start point.

Braking

The objective is to determine the deceleration rate each vehicle attains on twelve 60-0 mph full stops to the point of impending skid and with ABS in operation. Each vehicle is scored on its average deceleration rate.

Each test vehicle makes two heat-up decelerations at predetermined points on the test road from 90 to 0 mph at 22 ft/sec2 using a decelerometer to maintain rate. The vehicle then turns around and makes six measured 60-0 mph stops with threshold braking applied to the point of impending wheel lock, using ABS if so equipped. Following a four-minute heat-soak, the sequence is repeated. Initial velocity of each deceleration and the exact distance required is used to calculate the deceleration rate. The resulting score is the average of all 12 stops. Stopping distance from 60 mph is calculated by interpolation of results.

Ergonomics and communications

The objectives are to rate a vehicle’s ability to provide a suitable environment for patrol officers to perform their job, accommodate required communication and emergency warning equipment and to assess the relative difficulty of installation.

A minimum of four officers independently evaluate each vehicle on comfort and instrumentation. MSP Communications Division personnel then evaluate each vehicle on the ease of equipment installation. A total of 28 factors are evaluated on a scale of one to ten and averaged among all the testers. The final score is the total cumulative score from the average of each of the 28 factors, such as seat design, padding, ease of entry, head room, instrument placement, HVAC control placement, visibility, dashboard accessibility and trunk accessibility (2014 figures).

Chevrolet Impala    Chevrolet Tahoe Dodge Charger   Ford Police Interceptor sedan   Ford Police Interceptor utility

Total ergonomic test scores 197.93 226.12 210.36 194.70 208.82

Fuel economy

While not an indicator of actual mileage that may be experienced, the EPA mileage figures serve as a good comparison of mileage potential from vehicle to vehicle.

Vehicle figures are based on data published by the vehicle manufacturers and certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Mileage figures are given in U.S. miles per gallon.

EPA Mileage (miles per U.S. gallon) Chevrolet
Impala
3.6 litre V6 Chevrolet
Tahoe
5.3 litre V8 Chevrolet
Tahoe
5.3 litre V8 4WD Dodge Charger 3.6 litre V6
2.62:1
City 17 16 16 18
Highway 28 23 22 27

EPA Mileage (miles per U.S. gallon) Dodge Charger
3.6 litre V6
3.08:1 Dodge Charger
5.7 litre V8
2.62:1 Dodge Charger
5.7 litre V8
3.08:1 AWD Ford PI Sedan
3.5 litre V6
FWD
City 18 15 15 18
Highway 27 25 23 26

EPA Mileage (miles per U.S. gallon) Ford PI Sedan
3.7 litre V6
AWD Ford PI Sedan
3.5 litre Ecoboost V6 AWD Ford PI Utility
3.7 litre V6
AWD Ford PI Utility
3.5 litre Ecoboost V6 AWD
City 18 16 16 15
Highway 25 23 21 20

Test vehicle specifications (Preliminary reports – All specifications are subject to change)

Make Chevrolet Chevrolet Chevrolet Dodge
Model Impala 9C1 Tahoe PPV Tahoe PPV Charger
Engine 3.6 litre V6 5.3 litre V8 5.3 litre V8 3.6 litre V6
Fuel system Sequential port fuel injection Sequential port fuel injection Sequential port fuel injection Sequential port fuel injection
Drivetrain Front wheel drive Rear wheel drive Rear wheel drive Rear wheel drive
Horsepower (SAE net) 302 320 320 292
Torque (foot-pounds) 262 335 335 260
Axle ratio 2.44:1 3.08:1 3.08:1 2.65:1
Turning circle (feet curb-to-curb) 38.0 39.0 39.0 37.7
Transmission 6-speed electronic automatic 6-speed electronic automatic 6-speed electronic automatic 5-speed electronic automatic
Wheel size (inches) 17 17 17 18
Tire size P235/55R P265/60R P265/60R P225/60R
Brake system Power, ABS Power, ABS Power, ABS Power, ABS
Brake type (front) Vented disc Vented disc Vented disc Vented disc
Brake type (rear) Disc Vented disc Vented disc Vented disc
Overall length (inches) 200.4 202.0 202.0 198.4
Overall height (inches) 58.7 73.9 73.9 58.4
Overall width (inches) 72.9 79.0 79.0 75.0
Wheelbase (inches) 110.5 116.0 116.0 120.2
Front shoulder room (inches) 58.7 65.3 65.3 59.5
Front hip room (inches) 56.4 64.4 64.4 56.2
Front headroom (inches) 39.4 41.4 41.4 38.6
Front legroom (inches) 42.3 41.3 41.3 41.8
Rear shoulder room (inches) 58.6 65.2 65.2 57.9
Rear headroom (inches) 37.8 39.2 39.2 36.6
Rear legroom (inches) 37.6 39.0 39.0 40.1
Interior volume (cubic inches) 104.5 122.0 122.0 104.7
Trunk volume (cubic inches) 18.6 108.9
(behind front seats) 108.9
(behind front seats) 16.5
Curb weight estimated (pounds) 3743 5342 5342 4039
Fuel capacity (gallons) 17 26 26 19

Test vehicle Specifications (continued)
(Preliminary reports – All specifications are subject to change)

Make Dodge Dodge Dodge Ford
Model Charger Charger Charger Police Interceptor
Engine 3.6 litre V6 5.7 litre V8 5.7 litre V8 3.5 litre V6
Fuel system Sequential port fuel injection Sequential port fuel injection Sequential port fuel injection Sequential port fuel injection
Drivetrain Rear wheel drive Rear wheel drive All wheel drive Front wheel drive
Horsepower (SAE net) 292 370 370 288
Torque (foot-pounds) 260 395 395 254
Axle ratio 3.07:1 2.65:1 3.06:1 2.77:1
Turning circle (feet curb-to-curb) 37.7 37.7 37.7 39.7
Transmission 5-speed electronic automatic 5-speed electronic automatic 5-speed electronic automatic 6-speed electronic automatic
Wheel size (inches) 18 18 18 18
Tire size P225/60R P225/60R P225/60R P245/55R
Brake system Power, ABS Power, ABS Power, ABS Power, ABS
Brake type (front) Vented disc Vented disc Vented disc Vented disc
Brake type (rear) Vented disc Vented disc Vented disc Vented disc
Overall length (inches) 198.4 198.4 198.4 202.9
Overall height (inches) 58.4 58.4 58.4 61.3
Overall width (inches) 75.0 75.0 75.0 76.2
Wheelbase (inches) 120.2 120.2 120.2 112.9
Front shoulder room (inches) 59.5 59.5 59.5 57.9
Front hip room (inches) 56.2 56.2 56.2 56.3
Front headroom (inches) 38.6 38.6 38.6 39.0
Front legroom (inches) 41.8 41.8 41.8 41.9
Rear shoulder room (inches) 57.9 57.9 57.9 56.9
Rear headroom (inches) 36.6 36.6 36.6 36.7
Rear legroom (inches) 40.1 40.1 40.1 39.9
Interior volume (cubic inches) 104.7 104.7 104.7 102.9
Trunk volume (cubic inches) 16.5 16.5 16.5 16.6
Curb weight estimated (pounds) 4039 4271 4450 4255
Fuel capacity (gallons) 19 19 19 19

Test vehicle specifications (continued)
(Preliminary reports – All specifications are subject to change)

Make Ford Ford Ford Ford
Model Police Interceptor Police Interceptor Police Interceptor Utility Police Interceptor Utility
Engine 3.7 litre V6 Turbocharged 3.5 litre V6 3.7 litre V6 Turbocharged 3.5 litre V6
Fuel system Sequential port fuel injection Sequential port fuel injection Sequential port fuel injection Sequential port fuel injection
Drivetrain All wheel drive All wheel drive All wheel drive All wheel drive
Horsepower (SAE net) 305 365 304 365
Torque (foot-pounds) 279 350 279 350
Axle ratio 3.65:1 2.77:1 3.65:1 2.77:1
Turning circle (feet curb-to-curb) 38.9 39.7 38.9 38.9
Transmission 6-speed electronic automatic 6-speed electronic automatic 6-speed electronic automatic 6-speed electronic automatic
Wheel size (inches) 18 18 18 18
Tire size P245/55R P245/55R P245/55R P245/55R
Brake system Power, ABS Power, ABS Power, ABS Power, ABS
Brake type (front) Vented disc Vented disc Vented disc Vented disc
Brake type (rear) Vented disc Vented disc Vented disc Vented disc
Overall length (inches) 202.9 202.9 197.1 197.1
Overall height (inches) 61.3 61.3 69.2 69.2
Overall width (inches) 76.2 76.2 78.9 78.9
Wheelbase (inches) 112.9 112.9 112.6 112.6
Front shoulder room (inches) 57.9 57.9 61.3 61.3
Front hip room (inches) 56.3 56.3 57.3 57.3
Front headroom (inches) 39.0 39.0 41.4 41.4
Front legroom (inches) 41.9 41.9 40.6 40.6
Rear shoulder room (inches) 56.9 56.9 60.9 60.9
Rear headroom (inches) 36.7 36.7 40.1 40.1
Rear legroom (inches) 39.9 39.9 41.6 41.6
Interior volume (cubic inches) 102.9 102.9 118.4 118.4
Trunk volume (cubic inches) 16.6 16.6 85.1 (behind front seats) 85.1 (behind front seats)
Curb weight estimated (pounds) 4384 4472 4733 4733
Fuel capacity (gallons) 19 19 19 19


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