It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to join the dark (blue) side. Every year, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department runs the newest crop of donut-holders around Fontana Speedway. With no significantly new entries available, it’s no surprise that the results are fundamentally the same as they were last year.
I’m not exactly sure what the justification is for using lap times to rank police vehicles, but we live in an era where police get to do pretty much whatever they want. Why not run ’em around a track? Some of the significant laptimes:
- Ford (Taurus) Police Interceptor: 81.25 seconds
- Chevrolet Caprice PPV 6.0 (355hp tune): 81.97 seconds
- Dodge Charger HEMI AWD: 82.19 seconds
- Ford (Explorer) Police Interceptor: 85.58 seconds
- Chevrolet Tahoe PPV: 91.71 seconds
Looking at the tests of previous years, for which various police officers have posted full results on officer-oriented discussion forums, there’s a gap of a few seconds between the turbo/V-8 cars and the normally-aspirated sixes, then a couple of seconds back to the FWD Impala, which is still available for police fleet orders. Then, of course, you have the Tahoe, which is noticeably slower than everything but the Impala. Some ten to fifteen seconds behind that is the Harley Davidson Road King.
Other tidbits I picked up trolling through cop discussion boards:
- The Taurus Interceptor cannot “meet CHP minimum load”, whatever that means. Presumably it involves more than the 400 pounds that the LASD loads the vehicles with for acceleration testing (but not track times).
- Ford delivers PI orders in sixty days or less. GM is quoting six month lead times for the made-in-Australia Caprice.
- Spares for the Caprice are difficult to get and, anecdotally speaking, Caprices are often idled for months waiting for body parts.
- Even female officers report that the Caprice feels cramped. The Taurus Interceptor isn’t as good in that regard as the Crown Vic, but it’s not unlivable.
- Cops love the Charger but hate the trunk space, and have a perception that it’s in for service more than competitive vehicles.
- Ford specifically removed both keyless entry and “chip keys” from both Interceptor vehicles. As a result, the same blank keys can be cut for an entire fleet of Ford cop cars. Good news if you want to steal one, and also good news if you’re a fleet manager for a police department.
A solid comparison between the Ford Taurus SHO and “Police Interceptor” can be found at Hooniverse. When it comes to sales, however, the departments are voting with their wallets for the Explorer-based Police Interceptor. It’s outstripped the Taurus sedan Interceptor and sales are increasing steadily as departments grudgingly give up parking lots full of worn-out Crown Vics.
While the newest generation of police vehicles is almost certainly the fastest in history, it’s hard to shake the suspicion that they are the worst tools for the job since the Sixties. Cramped, complex, and expensive, the current Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge vehicles succeed primarily in making cops homesick for the old Panthers and Bubble Caprices.