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Michigan State Police 2013 police pursuit car tests:
Dodge Charger, Chevrolet Caprice, Ford Taurus, Ford Explorer

The Michigan State Police (MSP) held their eagerly awaited 2012-model-year pursuit car tests in September 2011 at Chrysler's Chelsea Proving Grounds and Gratten Raceway Park.

chargerDodge did surprising well in the ergonomics/communications area, where the company had previously suffered. Despite Chevy's special seats in the Caprice, Charger topped the cars with the highest ergonomics/communications score, around 223. Caprice came in second at around 217. Ford came in at around 203, the lowest score of any vehicle tested, including the front-wheel-drive Impala. The top scorer, though, was not a car at all: it was the Chevrolet Tahoe, topping the charts at 236. (Ford's own Explorer came in below 210.) This is a major accomplishment for the Dodge boys.

2013 Police Car Acceleration: Dodge vs Ford vs Chevy

In the V6 acceleration competition, the Charger roughly matched the Explorer V6 but was otherwise the slowest-accelerating V6-powered car in most sprints. The slowest Charger roughly paced the Chevy Tahoe V8, an enormous vehicle which GM sells as a pursuit vehicle. Surprisingly, the Ford Taurus and Explorer both outran the 2.65:1 Charger across the board; Taurus FWD also beat the 3.07:1 Charger, though Explorer was generally a tad slower without a turbocharger. The six-speed V6 Caprice easily beat both Dodge V6 cars across the board.

The turbocharged Fords matched or beat the V8 Caprice; the turbocharged Explorer was easily the fastest car of the group in acceleration, though not in top speed, where Caprice V8 triumphed. Caprice V8 also beat the Charger V8 across the board, though the results were very close. The turbocharged Taurus came in second place in acceleration, close to the Explorer. Whether a turbocharged car is practical for American police work is another question.

The Dodge Charger police edition is still not available with the eight-speed automatic, possibly because the five-speed is time-tested and cheaper; that hurts its performance quite a bit, since the civilian Charger does 0-60 in around 6.6 seconds, while the police version was tested in 7.85 at best.

SPEED Dodge Charger Chevrolet CapriceTahoeFord Taurus Explorer AWD
(Sec)V6 (2.65)V6 (3.07)V8AWDV6V8V8FWD TurboAWDTurbo
0-50 6.265.884.684.715.554.716.335.554.225.864.17
0-60 8.327.856.136.047.486.018.227.485.718.025.66
0-90 16.1016.0511.9512.2014.9211.8017.3814.9211.2816.2911.10
0-100 21.2919.9514.5614.7018.6414.3521.9518.6413.7221.0013.50
TOP139141152148132155139132149131132

Squad car braking

The testing method not only tests the absolute braking power, but the ability to stop after the brakes are well heated, which may be more appropriate for trooper use (think of a chase where the brakes are frequently applied).

 Charger TaurusCapriceTahoe
Detail V6 2.65 V6 3.07V8 RWD V8 AWDFWD TurboV6V8 
Stopping Distance 128.9 127.5126.5 128.0134.0 135.8126.8127.6133.2

The Fords are clearly weaker than the Chevys or Dodges, which should give police department buyers reason to pause before signing checks.

Vehicle dynamics and cornering

The next test involves moving over to the Gratten Race Track. It is a 2 mile long closed course, with 13 turns, and some wicked off camber turns, and dips and rises. The front straight away is 3,200 foot long affair. Here, the Charger squeaked out a win, barely edging out the Caprice V8. While the turbocharged Taurus and Explorer both had strong straight-line acceleration, neither could convert that into faster lap times, possibly due to the weaker brakes. The base Explorer's time was beaten by every car except Tahoe... yes, even by the Impala.

 Charger TaurusExplorerCapriceTahoe
DetailV6 2.65V6 3.07V8 RWDV8 AWDFWDTurboAWDTurboV6V8 
Avg track time 1:37.281:37.561:35.951:34.751:38.751:35.191:40.151:35.051:36.631:34.981:42.35

This section of the tests looks at cornering, braking, and acceleration as a unit; police cars must be well-rounded to get a low track time (lower times are better). If you were curious, the Impala actually performed moderately well in this test, easily beating the Tahoe; the front drive Impala scored 1:40.05, with more variation between drivers than the rear wheel drive cars.

Police car gas mileage

CarEPA mpg CarEPA mpg
Charger Hemi 2.65:116/25Charger V6 3.07:119/26
Charger Hemi 3.06:116/25Charger V6 2.65:118/27
Caprice V8 E8514/22 Caprice V618/26
Ford AWD TurboTBAFord AWDTBA
Caprice V815/24Ford FWDTBA

While the Ford AWD Turbo was intriguing in 2010, departments may not trust turbocharged engines for heavy duty use, and may not think AWD is up to the rigors of police work (which is presumably why there is no AWD Charger). What's more, the Charger and Caprice both showed they were superior or at least equal this year.

The Ford is estimated to be far pricier than the Chevy and Dodge; and the Dodge is 'close enough" in performance for departments to consider the possible issues of getting parts for the Australian-built Chevy (which has no direct civilian equivalent, yet) and issues of the untested-in-police-work turbo-and-AWD combination of the Ford.

A major factor in the formula which is not available yet is the gas mileage. Police departments, not surprisingly, burn a lot of fuel, and while gas prices are low now, many departments were badly burned by the sudden spike in fuel costs three years ago.

Also see this interpretation of the police car results and the ALERT conference

Squad cars | Insider's Guide to Chrysler | Rear-Drive Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth cars

Dodge Charger Police Cars | CHP Test Results


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