also see current police cars, history through 1980, and 1980-1999
Until 2002, the only official police package from Chrysler was the Jeep Cherokee. It was a credible choice even when compared with cars: in 2001 Michigan State Police tests, the two wheel drive Cherokee was about half a second slower to 60 miles per hour than the Ford Police Interceptor, and it was faster than any of the Ford trucks, the Tahoe, and the Impala (0-60 in 9.18 seconds). The top speed, 111 mph, beat the Ford and Chevy trucks, though not the cars. The big Ford trucks and Hummer H1 had very long stopping distances, while the Cherokee was similar to the Tahoe and only a few feet longer than the Ford cars.
While the Impala clearly won the gas-mileage race, the two wheel drive Cherokee was similar to the Ford Police Interceptor. Overall, the Cherokee was a middle of the pack vehicle, tested as a pursuit; and a strong vehicle, tested as a special service package, easily beating all of the Fords. [Details and tables, 1996-2001]
Though it was not to arrive until the 2002 model year, the Intrepid police package (see our review) was unveiled in late 2000. Front wheel drive and the lack of fleet relationships combined to eliminate its chances: in its first model year, the Intrepid had just a 4% market share, with 2,800 sold. Chrysler’s last major police car had been the Gran Fury / Diplomat, which ended in 1989, and before that, there had been quality debacles which had turned off some departments. Those who stuck with Chrysler tended to be satisfied, and, indeed, New York City kept their Diplomats and Gran Furys far longer than one would expect, before turning to Chevrolets — which they kept as long as they could, before moving on to the Fords, the last players in the rear-drive squad car game.
Mexico City bought 751 Dodge Neons for its police department in 2005, and 409 Dodge Stratus patrol cars in 2006. The Federal police in Mexico bought 816 Dodge Chargers in 2006. James Hale wrote, “In the 1970s they had the Mexican Super Bees, which were two-door fastback Plymouth Dusters with a 4-bbl 318 V8 coupled to a four-speed manual tranny. In 1977 they had the Mexican version of the Aspen/Volare, namely, Dart and Valiant, with the 360 V8. During the 1980s they had E-cars with turbo engines which were really fast too.”
Jeffrey Brindisi that some of the state police departments in the Northeast used two wheel drive blue Dodge Ram pickups; Jeff McDonald pointed out that these were commercial truck enforcement trucks, presumably carrying portable scales for 18-wheelers in their beds.
The official packages from Chrysler were the Intrepid and Jeep Cherokee, but other cars were used by police departments. The PT Cruiser was often a "teenager awareness" car for anti-alcohol and anti-drug educational activities, in its early days, but wasn't used as a cruiser as far as we know.
In 2006, the Dodge Magnum was launched, replacing the Intrepid as a pursuit package; when the sedan version, the Dodge Charger, appeared in police trim, Chrysler started to regain its police sales in earnest. By 2009, the Charger was almost ubiquitous in police fleets, often in small numbers as a “test car” or for special pursuit duty.
The Dodge Charger squad car was offered with a police package starting with the 2006 model year. We have full testing results by two police testing agencies, and a list of Chargers in police use. The Challenger is also used by some agencies, without factory support. (To see the competition, visit our Caprice page.)
The standard 3.5-liter High Output V-6 engine on the Charger police package has 250 horsepower and 250 lb-ft. of torque, with 18-inch V-rated tires and steel wheels, heavy-duty police brakes and linings and heavy-duty suspension (a similar package was on the Dodge Magnum). The 3.5 liter engine performs roughly as well as the current Ford Police Interceptor V8, while getting an additional 2 mpg on both city and highway, and stopping about ten feet faster from 60 mph. The price of the Charger squad varied from $1,000 to $4,000 above the Ford, but performance is far better even with the 3.5 (where cornering and braking carry the day). The Hemi is also available, with cylinder deactivation; for 2009, as with regular Chargers, horsepower was upgraded to 368 horsepower and 395 lb.-ft. of torque, thanks to variable cam timing and numerous performance and reliability upgrades. 2009 gas mileage was rated at 16 city, 25 highway.
The 2006 Dodge Magnum and 2006-2010 Dodge Charger police packages include a certified speedometer, column shifter, emergency rear door lock override, heavy-duty five-link suspension system, heavy-duty alternator, heavy-duty battery, heavy-duty brakes, inoperable rear door locks and rear windows, and special police electrical wiring. Optional equipment includes daytime running lamps, dual spot lamp, police-type heavy-duty front seats with manual lumbar adjustment and full-size spare tire.
One observer wrote: “I spent about 1,000 miles in a Charger R/T [both as driver and passenger] and I'm impressed with the power and the capacity of the brakes. The car had [a decent number of] miles on it at the time and they'd been very hard miles. The engine was familiar with the rev-limiter in top gear and the anti-lock feature on the brakes had seen its share of use. Every time the car came back from a road test, the brakes and the cats were stinking [from the heat]. Even with all that abuse, the rotors still looked like mirrors. Looks like the brake issue from the Intrepids has been solved…”
The name Dodge Enforcer was making the rounds, but wasn’t used. The last time that name was used was in the Chrysler Enforcer.
Overshadowed by the LX cars were the usual Chrysler suspects, including the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Durango, both of which were in use in various towns and cities as special-service vehicles.
2006-2010 police car testing • 2011 Dodge Charger • 2010 and newer Mopar squads
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