The first Michigan State Police tests of the Dodge Durango Pursuit are out, and so are the latest comparisons with the new Ford Explorers, which are so new they don’t have gas mileage numbers yet.

durango pursuit

Once again, Ford has jumped into the police market with both feet and then some; buyers can choose the base “pokey” Explorer, a hybrid version and a hot turbo version, or bypass all the Explorers and go with the Ford Fusion hybrid or even an F-150 pickup. Ford cares enough to have rated the pickup as a pursuit vehicle, possibly the first pickup in that category.   Meanwhile, GM has just about ceded the market, selling a single vehicle—the Chevy Tahoe—with rear wheel drive or 4x4 setups.

Dodge has just two basic entries, the Charger and Durango, but both are available with V6 or V8 engines; the Charger is rear or all wheel drive, and the Durango is all wheel drive, period.

The highest performer overall was the Ford Explorer with its turbocharged 3-liter engine and all wheel drive (all the Explorers had AWD); but not every department will want that engine, due to the rigors of police work. The close second-best, with 97.1 second runs around the track (vs the Explorer's 96.5 seconds), was the Charger Hemi AWD. It’s interesting really, because the Explorers ranged in times from 96.5 to 100.0 seconds on the course; but the Chargers all turned in similar times, 97.1 to 98.7 seconds, with the V6 being the slowest. Rear wheel drive didn’t hurt the base Charger much.

The Tahoes were middling in the course, with times of 100.6 (RWD)  and 101.2 (AWD) seconds. The Ford Fusion took 106 seconds, and the F-150 did a surprisingly respectable 101.9, beating the Durango V6. The Durango V8 had a disappointing track run, at 102.7 seconds, beating only the F-150 and Fusion.

For straight 0-60mph acceleration, the numbers were all closer. The winner was again the Explorer turbo, but the Charger Hemi AWD came in 1/10 of a second later, with a 5.87 0-60 time; the Hemi RWD was in third place with 6.15 seconds. The Tahoes, V6 Charger, and base Explorer all turned in similar times; the Durango V6 took 8.6 seconds and the Durango Hemi took 7.1. The Fusion came in last, as expected, with a run of 9.2 seconds, while the F-150 exceeded expectations with a 6.9 second run.

Top speeds were run by the turbo Explorer and Charger (150 and 149 mph), while the Durango was limited to around 118 mph by its tires. The Tahoes ran 121 and 134 mph, but the F-150 only hit 106, coming in last. The Fusion managed 119 mph.

You can see why the Taurus was dropped and the Explorer got more attention.

The F-150’s acceleration is a bit scary when you consider that it took  a full 152 feet to stop, even more than the Tahoes (146 and 143) or the Durango. The best brakes were on the Dodges, with the Chargers taking 127 to 134 feet; the Fusion came in next, at 129 feet. The turbo explorer stopped in 131.5, the hybrid and base versions coming in close behind. Dodge also did well on the communications readiness and ergonomics ratings; the Durango came in first in ergonomics, and Charger took second.

The Durango V6 didn’t fare as well as one would hope, and when the Explorer Hybrid’s gas mileage numbers come out, it seems likely it will beat the Durango; that said, some fleet managers just don’t want hybrids.

There is no question about which car is the best in gas mileage; it's the Fusion hybrid, rated at roughly 40 mpg, making it ideal for city departments (the places that used to buy slant-six powered Dodge Diplomats). The Fusion only has 129 pound-feet of torque, so hot pursuit isn't its strength; it came out dead last in the Grattan raceway test, (though to be fair the V6 Durango wasn’t that far behind), and does 0-100 in a full 26 seconds, far worse than even the V6 Durango (just under 23 seconds).  This is the car for times when you depend on crooks failing to outrun Motorola, not for hot Interstate pursuits, and neither GM or Dodge have anything to match it.