Safety Behind the Wheel
with Travis Yates
New police vehicles: The race is on!
More than 400 observers at the 36th annual Michigan State Police vehicles testing got exactly what they came for — an impressive competition
As the annual Michigan State Police Vehicle Testing completes its 36th year, the “Big Three” auto manufacturers depart the testing grounds with something to brag about and the onlookers leave with something to talk about.
While it will take a few weeks for Michigan State Police Lt. Keith Wilson and his team to officially compile the results of the three days of testing, it did not take long for the information to get out to America’s Finest who will be tasked with driving these newly tested vehicles in the very near future.
A Clean Start
With the Ford Crown Vic owning approximately 70 percent of the police market and their decision to end production this year, this year’s testing was as anticipated as any in memory. The slate is literally clean and every manufacturer is poised to take over where the Crown Vic will soon leave behind.
While the Michigan State Police go out of their way to be neutral — there are no winners declared — it was clear from the observers that one manufacturer stood out. Since 1996, when Chevrolet ended its Caprice 9C1, LT1 Police Package, the law enforcement community has felt like a beloved family member has been missing from home.
Well, this weekend, our loved one is back and we once again felt the love.
The 2011 Chevrolet Caprice came to the game with a 6.0 Liter, V8 Engine rated at 355 Horsepower. The anticipation was high and the Caprice did not disappoint. With a polite but bold statement that “they are back and back big”, the Caprice had the top speed with 148 MPH, toppling the Hemi Charger that has set the mark since they came on the scene. The Caprice also had the fastest acceleration times with 0-60 mph in 6.15 seconds when run on E-85 flex fuel and the quickest stopping distance with a deceleration rate from 60 to 0 mph with 128.3 feet.
While the Caprice was the talk of many, both Chrysler and Ford impressed. The 2011 Dodge Charger Pursuit had an updated design with an increase in visibility by 15 percent and their performance on the track was what we have become accustomed too since they exploded on the scene in 2006. The Hemi Charger ran a close second to the new kid on the block with a top speed of 146 mph and they were right on the heels of the Caprice in the 0-60 mph acceleration at 6.27 seconds and second in stopping distance with 133.9 feet.
The Crown Vic appeared for the last time in Michigan and while its technology has certainly been passed by the rest, the law enforcement profession owes this vehicle a ton of gratitude for years of dedicated service. The Crown Vic topped out at 129 mph, reached 0-60 mph in 9.01 and 8.87 seconds (rear axle ratios of 3.27 and 3.55) and stopped from 60 to 0 mph in 141 feet.
Ford did test its new all wheel drive interceptor that will be ready in a 2012 model. While Ford is boasting of the performance, the Michigan State Police are not issuing official results of the test and we are honoring their request to not report on the preliminary numbers.
More to Come
In the coming weeks, our friends with the Michigan State Police will be placing their preliminary numbers on their website and a few weeks after that they will release their final report. While it may be easy to look at “the fastest” and declare a future leader in the police car market, there is much more that police leaders and fleet managers will concern themselves with in the coming months when making purchasing decisions.
The final report will discuss fuel mileage, safety enhancements and ergonomics, which are truly important aspects in the decision making process.
In addition, the manufacturers will take their show on the road as they go to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department next month. It will be with Los Angeles County Sergeant Dave Hontz and his instructors that the Michigan State Police Results will try to be maintained by some and improved by others.
We look forward to keeping you up to date in what has become the most interesting Police Vehicle Testing we have seen in decades.