The state of Michigan is to police cars what the state of Texas is to textbooks: the results of its comprehensive police car testing are used as a benchmark across the country when law enforcement agencies look to buy new cars.
This year, as always, a panel of testers from the Michigan State Police has taken all of the police cars that are available for purchase–including the hotly anticipated new Ford Police Interceptor–and put them through their paces at both the Chrysler Proving Ground in Chelsea, Michigan, and Grattan Raceway, which is near Grand Rapids. The department recently made the results public, and we’ve broken them down into three groups: V-6 police sedans, V-8 (or equivalent) police sedans, and sport utility vehicles.
Base V-6 Sedans: There’s Not One Sheriff in Town Anymore
With the death of the Ford Crown Victoria-based Police Interceptor in 2011, this test by the Michigan State Police is the first that features Ford’s new Police Interceptor, its best hope at keeping what is reported to be a 70 percent market share in the United States.
Ford’s new Police Interceptor is a completely different animal from the car it replaces: it promises more power and economy by ditching the old car’s antiquated V-8 engine and replacing it with a selection of two V-6 engines (one of which is the twin-turbocharged EcoBoost motor from the Taurus SHO). But its competitors have smelled blood in the water: Chevrolet has the Impala PPV but it also launched the Caprice, a police-only sedan that shares its underpinnings with the late Pontiac G8, and Dodge has modified its critically acclaimed Charger sedan for police duty.
Officers tested the cars’ acceleration and braking ability, and then completed a set of laps around Grattan Raceway. The test finished with a subjective portion, where law enforcement officers rated the cars’ ergonomics and convenience.
At the end of the competition, one thing became apparent: the Police Interceptor was not the clear-cut winner. While the new Police Interceptor is a second quicker around Grattan while still delivering an additional 4 mpg, it didn’t pull out a convincing victory over its competitors. The Police Interceptor is outgunned in areas like 0-60 times, ¼ mile times, and standard V-6 horsepower by the Dodge Charger and Chevrolet Caprice. Even the aging Impala manages to best the new Ford in areas like top speed and ergonomics scores.
The Police Interceptor’s standout feature, however, is its availability of all-wheel drive. Performing the same tests outside of the cool, dry conditions of the MSP testing would probably allow the Police Interceptor to flip the script, but it’s hard to say for sure.
Base Sedan Results:
|Chevrolet Caprice||Dodge Charger||Dodge Charger||Chevrolet Impala||Ford Police Interceptor||Ford Police Interceptor|
|HP/Torque||282 hp /
|292 hp /
|292 hp /
|302 hp /
|280 hp /
|280 hp /
|MPG: City/ Highway/ Combined||18/26/21||19/26/21||18/27/21||17/28/21||18/26/21||17/24/20|
|0-60 mph||7.5 sec||7.66 sec||7.93 sec||7.46 sec||7.77 sec||8.19 sec|
|1/4 Mile||15.78 sec||15.88 sec||16.12 sec||15.81 sec||16.09 sec||16.33 sec|
|Top Speed||148 mph||141 mph||141 mph||149 mph||130 mph||131 mph|
|60-0 mph||126.2 feet||127 feet||127 feet||132.6 feet||131 feet||131.8 feet|
V-8/Turbo V-6 Sedans: Hello, Horsepower
It’s important to note here that all of the cars listed so far have V-6 engines underhood, something that might be surprising to someone used to the old Ford’s V-8-only mantra. Now that the old cars’ V-8s are outperformed by the new cars’ V-6s, the Big Three all make more expensive, high performance versions of their three cars.
Chevrolet’s Caprice now comes with either a 3.6-liter V-6 or a 6.0-liter V-8, while Dodge’s Charger comes with either a 3.6-liter V-6 or a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. Instead of offering a V-8, Ford offers a power boost by way of the twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6.
The high performance models fared roughly the same as the base models: the Police Interceptor managed to stay competitive in testing, but didn’t pull out a decisive win. Instead, that win went to the Charger V-8: it posted best-in-class horsepower and torque, Grattan Raceway lap times, 0-60 and ¼ mile times, and ergonomics scores.
Instead, the Police Interceptor EcoBoost put up more of a fight against the V-8 Caprice. The Caprice had a better top speed and better brakes, but the Interceptor had more horsepower and better fuel economy.
High-Performance Sedan Results:
|Chevrolet Caprice||Dodge Charger||Dodge Charger||Ford Police Interceptor|
|HP/Torque||355 hp /
|370 hp /
|370 hp /
|365 hp /
|0-60 mph (seconds)||5.91||5.83||5.95||5.92|
|1/4 Mile (seconds)||14.45||14.35||14.38||14.45|
|Top Speed||154 mph||151 mph||152 mph||148 mph|
|60-0 mph (feet)||125.8||129.9||129.9||129.8|
Sport Utility Vehicles: Old School, Meet New School
For the police department that wants more convenience from its vehicles, MSP also tested two different sport-utility police vehicles, the Ford Explorer-based Police Interceptor Utility. The results were much more conclusive in the Ford’s favor: it bested the old-school Chevrolet Tahoe PPV by matching it with horsepower, but offering a better 0-60 time, a better Grattan lap time, better fuel economy, and better brakes. The Tahoe, however, managed to score more points with officers in terms of ergonomics.
Sport Utility Vehicle Results:
|Ford Police Interceptor Utility||Ford Police Interceptor Utility||Chevrolet Tahoe PPV|
|HP/Torque||300 hp / 280 lb-ft||300 hp / 280 lb-ft||302 hp / 340 lb-ft|
|MPG: City/ Highway/ Combined||16/21/18||16/22/18||15/21/17|
|Grattan Average Lap Time||01:40.3||01:41.5||01:42.1|
|0-60 mph||7.75 sec||8.01 sec||8.01 sec|
|1/4 Mile||15.97 sec||16.21 sec||16.32 sec|
|Top Speed||131 mph||131 mph||139 mph|
|60-0 mph||131.7 feet||128.4 feet||133.8 feet|
One Takeaway: Slow Down, Buckle Up, Hang Up
If this year’s test results are any indication, the near future is going to bring some serious improvements to the police car market. The least powerful vehicle tested this year is still one second per lap of Grattan faster than the old P71, while the quickest, brawniest model will get to 60 miles per hour 3.2 seconds faster than the old car. Traffic stops aren’t about to get any easier, folks, especially now that the five-oh will be piloting some seriously quick automobiles.
What remains to be seen is what police departments like MSP will do now: all of the cars – including the six-cylinder models — outperform their predecessors, so some police departments will save the money and go for V-6s, while others will spend the money for larger engines and more power.
The Michiganders don’t declare winners to their testing, because the final category of the test will be the cost, so the true winner of this test won’t be known for a little while. We’ll find out which becomes a fleet favorite — hopefully not by way of being pulled over — soon enough.
Source: Michigan State Police