To Serve and Accelerate: Police Cruiser Performance Has Come a Long Way Since 2009

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
to serve and accelerate police cruiser performance has come a long way since 2009

Every automotive enthusiast goes through a period in their teens where they wonder just how fast a police car would be against their entirely hypothetical sports car of choice.

Well, had they known the police were just giving this information away, they wouldn’t have needed to.

Every year, the Michigan State Police hold a track day where they compile a load of performance data for various vehicles used in law enforcement. They then toss that data up on their website. While it’s fun for civilians to read, the results influence purchasing decisions made by police agencies around the country.

This year’s MSP evaluations included the Dodge Charger, Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Explorer (aka Police Interceptor Utility) and the Taurus (aka Police Interceptor), each outfitted with various packages and powertrains. The quickest accelerating sedan was the Ford Taurus equipped with all-wheel drive and a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, which rocketed to 60 miles per hour in 6.17 seconds. Chevrolet’s Caprice recorded the highest top speed (155 miles per hour) when equipped with the 6.0-liter V8.

However, even a bargain-basement Taurus equipped with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder — this year’s slowest vehicle — matched or bested the emergency vehicle staples of just a few years ago.

In 2009, the MSP performed the same tests with a fleet of Ford Crown Victorias and Chevrolet Impalas. Both vehicles, even in their best Interceptor and 9C1 trims, found it nearly impossible to beat a 8.5 second 0-60 time. The only one to reach 100 mph in under 23 seconds was a Crown Vic with the optional 3.55 gearing, but the more aggressive rear end reduced its top speed to a measly 120 mph. Meanwhile, all 2016 cars proved notably faster to 60 and — in most cases — several seconds faster to 100, with top speeds frequently climbing above 130 mph.

Those 2009 tests did include the Dodge Charger, equipped with an optional 5.7-liter V8. The outlier Dodge hinted at things to come with a brisker 0-60 time and a top speed that made the rest of the ’09 cars look antiquated. However, the newish Charger would have to wait a few more years before coming the more prevalent black and white on the roadways. Early models suffered from brake system issues, causing wary agencies to stay away — especially when they could still buy reliable and easy to repair Crown Victorias.

A faster fleet isn’t quite as important to law enforcement as a durable one, however. Police vehicles are, more or less, keeping pace with the increased performance of cars in general. It may not be so much a case of modern day cruisers being wildly fast; more likely, the cop cars from yesteryear were a little slower than average.

At any rate, it’s too difficult to tell a 3.5-liter Ecoboost Taurus police car from the 2.0-liter when it’s filling your rearview mirror. I wouldn’t risk a chase until they all start driving Honda Insights.

[h/t to Jalopnik]

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6 of 53 comments
  • SLLTTAC SLLTTAC on Nov 04, 2016

    The thought of a police car or SUV driven at triple-digit speeds by a typical cop is frightening, especially at night because of the vehicle's poor headlights. Then consider the crummy aftermarket tires that public agencies buy. The public would be better served if police agencies drove smaller cars with four-cylinder engines. Search the internet to see the brightly painted cars that Australian and British police drive.

    • See 1 previous
    • Notapreppie Notapreppie on Nov 04, 2016

      @Scoutdude I would rather run almost any major brand non-OEM tire (Bridgestone, BF Goodrich, Michelin, Pirelli, Hankook, Continental, Kumho, Sumitomo, Dunlop, Toyo, Yokohama...) than the Goodyear RS-A. Awful tire. I will admit some bias against OEM tire models. Most of them are a compromise away from what I'm looking for and cost far more than better products.

  • -Nate -Nate on Nov 04, 2016

    I'm curious to what rinky-dink backwater hick town you live in ? . Cop cars use special extremely expen$ive tires rated to 140 MPH . As far as the Officers driving abilities , you shouldn't impose your lack of ability on them . -Nate

    • See 1 previous
    • Notapreppie Notapreppie on Nov 04, 2016

      I don't know that there's anything special or expensive about V (149 mph), W (168 mph), Y (186 mph) or Z-rated (>149 mph) tires. The OEM tires on my CX-3 are V-rated Yokohama Avid S34. While they may be $200 retail through TireRack, the W-rated Kumho Ecsta LX Platinum is only $90.

  • Jerry Hightower I'd like to see a true hardtop.
  • Jerry Hightower I'd like to see a true hardtop
  • 28-Cars-Later "Six-thousand dollars get you in the door."You just cost me six thousand dollars! And one Cadillac.
  • 28-Cars-Later Kudos to the Mazda team on the attractive front end, though the lack of front bumper is still detention after class. Rest of it is also visually appealing, its shocking me how good this looks and how bad Honda (and to an extent Toyota's) styling is in comparison.
  • Slyons My guess is they keep the 2.0 liter they have now with minor tweaks, and shoehorn in the 48V mild hybrid system that just debuted in the CX-90. Should allow for all the regular fun of wringing out the 4 cyl and bump the fuel mileage up at least a couple points. I don't think we'll see a major evolution of the drivetrain until the next next model (NF?).