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by Norman Layton • Dodge Charger police cars • 2011 Michigan State Police Test Results
This morning, arguably the safest parking lot in America could be found at California's Auto Club Speedway, site of the 2011 LA County Sheriffs Vehicle Testing. As I pulled into the lot, the redundancy of locking my vehicle and setting the alarm was brought to mind as I was surrounded by a sea of patrol cars, police officers and security personnel.
The Speedway is in a beautiful setting, with the Angeles and San Bernardino mountains serving as a majestic backdrop, then the quiet morning air was split by the roar of a 5.7 L Hemi powered Pursuit Charger, flying down the back straight of the speedway and into a series of esses and hairpin turns on a portion of the speedway's road racing course. It was soon joined by the nearly silent, except for the noticeable turbine whine, Ford AWD Ecoboost.
The official timers and evaluators were on a bridge over the track with guards blocking access to the bridge, presumably to prevent the media from getting the results early. The lap times, by visual calculation, were nearly identical — I was using the state of the art chain link fence calculator, noting the position of each car in relationship to the chain link fence posts that were on opposite sides of the course. The Charger pulled about an additional 100 feet or so ahead on each lap. If the police start using that calculator, I'll be state of the art; that said, next time, I'm bringing a stopwatch.
A little background is in order: In 1974, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department (LASD), under Sgt. Bob Phillips, began its police vehicle testing program. Since that time the LASD, along with Michigan State Police, has become nationally recognized as a leading source of information related to police vehicles and their use. The goal of the LASD testing program is to provide law enforcement agencies with enough data to successfully evaluate the vehicles currently being offered for police service.
The testing procedures include simulated field testing, vehicle performance, safety and comfort testing. The testing is highlighted by a 32 lap high speed run broken down into 8 lap increments where track temperature, fastest lap times. Average lap times and average speed are incorporated along with consideration of individual drivers. At the end of the high speed vehicle dynamics testing, the cars are immediately put into the acceleration and brake testing.
The testing is held in conjunction with the annual Cops West Convention, where Law Enforcement agencies from the entire western United States come to see the latest law enforcement goodies. Results of the testing is compiled and released at a later date, however each police and sheriff departments have procurement departments on hand to conduct their own evaluation and testing, for the selection of the next year's police vehicles. Because the venerable Crown Vic's reign is coming to an end, this year's selection process is attracting huge interest and the three manufacturers involved, GM (Chevy/Holden), Chrysler (Dodge and Ram) and Ford (Taurus and Explorer) had a large presence at the testing.
One of the most popular attractions, with the largest crowd of observers, was the Durango Law Enforcement vehicle. Sold with either the 3.6L V6 and the 5.7L Hemi, this vehicle hints of having a few SRT overtones borrowed from its WK2 (Grand Cherokee) stablemate. It is not yet pursuit certified and Dodge sources on-site were tight lipped, but did not deny the possibility that it might be an alternative to the Explorer and Tahoe at some point in time.
The integrated interior indicates that it will at least be sold as a special service vehicle.
Also on hand was the recently announced Ram Special Services Police Truck, for "extreme duty cycles." The press release can be found here on Allpar, but a close up look at this beast, beats all the text in the world.
This 1500 is offered with the 5.7 Hemi, Ram Box, and tuned suspension for both on and off road performance. A towing capacity of 10,000 lb, payload of 1,455 lb, and a GCWR of 15,500 lb, with auxiliary power sources and Power Distribution Center to facilitate law enforcement lighting, sirens, radar, cameras, or modem and printer needs.
The star of the show however was the 2012 Dodge Charger Pursuit. The 2012 Charger features an improved interior,
a performance suspension and the 5.7 Hemi. While Charger has not yet captured some of the larger agencies away from Crown Vic, you can see the crack in the dam as the many early adopters of the Charger, with few exceptions, have been very happy with the Dodge performance, with Santa Ana, Irwindale and McFarland among them, at the test.
The Dodge comes with the option of the fuel sipping V6 that still produces some healthy performance for agencies that are keeping an eye on their budgets and the Charger offers more interior room than Ford or Holden.
…and sitting, not unnoticed by scores of officers, was more than one unofficial and not yet certified vehicle offering from Dodge that may well be more than a tease. It wasn't on the test program, but it looked ready to rumble.
See our summary of the 2012 model-year Michigan State Police police pursuit car tests.
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Dodge Charger Police Cars | CHP Test Results
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