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October 26, 2006

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Travis Yates Police Driving:
Safety Behind the Wheel

with Travis Yates

V-6 powered police cars: A race to watch

Since Dodge announced the production of the Charger and Magnum for police use, the talk has been non-stop among law enforcement officers. From 0-60 mph in just over six seconds and a top speed of 150 mph, the Hemi-powered Dodge has garnered tremendous attention. 

What has seemingly gone unnoticed is the V-6 version of the Dodge.  With gas prices at record highs and budgets at record lows, economy with police cars will be a priority for some time to come.  Since 2000, Chevrolet has filled the economy gap with their police package Impala (9C1).  The 2006 model has a 240 horsepower, 3.8 liter engine.  While this is a seemingly popular V-6 police car, it has been the only V-6 model police package vehicle available.  Dodge has shaken up the market and departments are scrambling to make a decision for the future.

The Dodge has not only offered comparable V-6 powered 250 horsepower to the Impala but a bonus too many in LE is the fact that it is rear wheel drive.  The results from Michigan were very similar.  The Impala had a 0-60 mph acceleration of 8.8 seconds while the Dodge was 8.9 seconds.  The combined fuel mileage was 21 mpg in the Impala while the Charger was 22 mpg.  With the results so close, many departments have an important decision to make. 

The Impala is by no means a perfect model but it has a proven track record.  The Charger is new and there are no long-term maintenance records to judge future costs.  The Charger not only brings a rear wheel drive vehicle but a larger interior and s stability control package that has set the standard in the police models.

The Michigan State Police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office do an excellent job in their vehicle testing.  With that information in mind, I decided to conduct my own test.  The V-6 Model of the police package Impala and Charger were used.  The instruments and technology utilized by the Michigan State Police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office were not used. There would also be differences due to road surface and temperature and weather conditions. It would be unwise to directly compare the numbers I compiled to those of Michigan or Los Angeles County.  Regardless, the results are interesting and should be of interest.
 
Acceleration - 0-60 mph

  • Chevrolet Impala V6 - 0-60 mph = 9.3 Seconds
  • Dodge Charger V6 - 0-60 mph = 10.5 Seconds

Braking Distance - 60 mph

  • Chevrolet Impala V6 -145 feet
  • Dodge Charger V6 -    133 feet

Both the acceleration and braking results were similar to what we already knew from previous tests. The benchmark is a test that is as close to reality as possible under emergency conditions. An in city pursuit course was set up utilizing cones, apexes and curves including 90 degree turns. Several instructors drove each vehicle and the times were averaged.  The Charger and Impala performed almost identically.  The Charger averaged a time of 2:04 while the Impala averaged 2:03. 

Both the V-6 versions of the Impala and Charger had pros and cons. The trunk space and view out of the rear are less than desirable in both models. The Impala had a 0-60 mph speed of one second faster but it would be hard to dismiss the ever important stopping power that the Charger has.  The stopping distance at 60 mph is significant and when you combine the stability control, the Dodge Charger will make a huge impact in the LE vehicle market.

The decision for agencies is a tough one but one that is welcome.  Competition in the police car market will only improve vehicle performance and officer safety well into the future.

About the author

Major Travis Yates is a Commander with the Tulsa (OK) Police Department. His Seminars in Risk Management & Officer Safety have been taught across the United States & Canada. Major Yates has a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. He is the Director of Training for SAFETAC Training and the Director of Ten-Four Ministries, dedicated to providing practical and spiritual support to the law enforcement community.

Contact Travis Yates







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