By on November 3, 2016

police car

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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53 Comments on “To Serve and Accelerate: Police Cruiser Performance Has Come a Long Way Since 2009...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “Chevrolet’s Caprice recorded the highest top speed (155 miles per hour) when equipped with the 6.0-liter V8.”

    You’re gonna make Ajla all triggered and sweaty.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Chevrolet Caprice “patrol vehicle” has been on sale since 2011. In that time I have driven to California and back (from NM) and to Ohio and back.

      Do you know how many I have seen in the wild?

      Zero, zilch, nada, the empty set.

      I will say I’ve seen one or two closely related Chevy SS.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        There are a couple of localities using them here in Cincinnati. I saw an Indiana SP Caprice cruiser this past weekend as well. Mostly though, Taurus and Explorer. Only a peppering of Chargers.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          I don’t know if NM Fleet Managers are getting a discount but here in NM they’ve been hitting the Charger hard. State police, municipalities, all agencies that formerly used Crown Vics.

          For “unmarked” duty however – Ford Police Interceptors both sedans and utilities.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            The Charger has the lowest price of any Pursuit rated police vehicle and actually the non pursuit rated vehicles as well.

      • 0 avatar

        Many PDs have “Buy American” clauses in their rules for purchasing vehicles.

        I’ve seen a FEW Caprice PPVs but the fact that the base vehicle originates in Australia is apparently the reason you don’t see more. I understand cops who have them, love them.

        You think GM would’ve researched the whole “Buy American” stipulation before rolling them out.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          They did, and Zeta production was supposed to come stateside (or to Canada). From what I remember, it was deemed to expensive, and then GM went bankrupt shortly thereafter.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          I haven’t heard anything good about the Caprice PPVs in actual use. My state bought a batch of them when they came out, just like the Chargers and didn’t buy more because of their experience with them.

          • 0 avatar
            DearS

            We have a bunch of Caprise in Rhode Island and Mass. Would have thought they would be bullet proof simple sedans. Sounds like poor quality at Chevy.

      • 0 avatar
        DanyloS

        Come to New Jersey. You’ll see plenty of new Caprices both marked and unmarked roaming the highways. Philadelphia has a handful (but those blend in with the Malibus and Impalas) Pennsylvania State Troopers have some Caprices as well.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Posky

        Come to think of it, I have only ever seen them in New York City with any regularity.

        Although it has still been at a frequency less than Prius parking enforcers, NYPD patrol vans, and holdover Crown Victorias.

      • 0 avatar
        rcx141

        Illinois state police use the Chevy PPV. And they have also started popping up on the used market – I have seen civilians driving them. There was one on an auction site, a 79,000 miler for around $8,000.

      • 0 avatar

        Garland TX (suburb of D/FW) has a fleet of cop car Caprices I see the quite often on I-30 and the surface streets, Rowlett has a few as well. DART (the transit co for Dallas) has a fleet as well for police actions.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I would have greatly enjoyed owning a Zeta Caprice.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Thought:

    The police cars in 1996 were likely faster (GM) than those in (Ford = same, GM slower) 2009. Only with turbo charging and return of big V8 Caprice have we recovered from loss of other V8s.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      There wasn’t a police vehicle as quick as the final 9C1 until the first police Charger hit the scene. But non-9C1 vehicles got faster. The Crown Vics added 39 horsepower between the first and last versions. The 3800 Impalas were replaced by 3.9 and then 3.6 versions. The slow Essex Tauruses and 3.3L Intrepids went away.

      Of course then the big-engined versions of the new ~2011 crop of police vehicles destroyed everything that came before them.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Any stats on the 60’s and 70’s cop cars?

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    They are the Interceptor Utility and Interceptor Sedan, not Explorer or Taurus and not Police Interceptor or Police Interceptor X. The Police Interceptor is gone and is what was based on the Crown Victoria.

    The Charger has never been the most prevalent Black and White on the road, its sales pale in comparison to the offerings over the years from Ford and GM. Certainly there were some depts that went all in on the Charger but for the most part that was very short lived as they found that the costs of operation was just so high and that the incidence of 1 car crashes frequently rose dramatically. I know one person who was in charge of purchases for a local city and he bought Chrysler’s claims that it would lower the fuel bill and that the cars would stand up to the use just fine and heck they were almost $5000 cheaper than the Fords. He only bought one batch because they ate up the year’s fuel budget by Sep, they were constantly in the shop and the officers were crashing them left and right. His next purchase was Tahoes since he missed the deadline for Police Interceptor orders. The Tahoe had a lower overall cost than the Charger by a long shot with better fuel economy and more up time.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      You might want to double check that on Ford’s website or on the back of one of the vehicles (directly under the left taillight).

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Hmm directly under the left tail light?

        Don’t see it here on an official Ford provided photo http://st.motortrend.com/uploads/sites/5/2013/07/2014-Ford-Police-Interceptor-Sedan-Rear-Driving.jpg

        Nor here http://www.supermotors.net/getfile/821837/original/ford_interceptor_utility__9_.jpg

        It does appear that there are a few out there with the old Crown Victoria Police interceptor badge, don’t know if they have made that standard or optional at some point or whether the depts/officers removed them from their previous vehicles. I know for whatever reason the retired Crown Vics no longer have that badge on them when they go to auction.

        It does appear that Ford has changed the nomenclature over the years and isn’t certain what they are doing. Originally the models were simply Interceptor Sedan and Interceptor Utility w/o the mention of Police. Now they appear to be using Ford Police Interceptor as a sub brand and refer to the models simply as Sedan or Utility in some cases, and in others they are sticking with the Interceptor Sedan and Interceptor Utility. Take a look at this page. https://www.ford.com/fordpoliceinterceptor/models/#/brochures/ On page 12 of the brochure it refers to the models as IS and IU but on the page itself they refer to them as simple Sedan or Utility.

        • 0 avatar
          SC5door

          The badge does come on the police U502 models, it’s on the lower left of the tailgate.

          I see these vehicles built every single day.

        • 0 avatar
          Secondaries

          Did you really post a screenshot from a video game as evidence for your case? The Utility is also a pre-production and is not complete. See below.

          Ford Police Interceptor:

          https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/f8/b0/7f/f8b07fd91af158cc5df3c249bab2263d.jpg

          Ford Police Interceptor Utility:

          http://www.car-revs-daily.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/2015-Ford-Interceptor-Utility-57.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          Matt Posky

          That’s fine. I’ll admit that on page 12 of Ford’s official Police Interceptor brochure, the one that has a registered trademark logo after every usage of the term “Police Interceptor,” it does just call them Interceptors on one occasion in the powertran breakdown.

          I’ll also agree that your GCI image from the Need For Speed video game didn’t include a clearly visible Police Interceptor label.

          I’ll even go so far as to say that, yes, the photo of the Police Interceptor Utility with the http://www.fordpoliceinterceptor.com sticker on the back was lacking a Police Interceptor badge entirely.

          However, I have to disagree about the retired Crown Victorias. They frequently kept the badge.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            I meant to say that the ones at my county’s auction have the Police Interceptor badge removed for what ever reason. Certainly lots of depts leave that badge on, or don’t get them stolen?

  • avatar
    CowDriver

    Just remember, nothing outruns a Motorola.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    Ugh, that SQ car in the picture is all too familiar.

  • avatar

    I once asked one of my local nysp which car he liked best the Caprice the dodge or the crown vic. He thought a bit and said in daily use they are the same but he liked the charger best because it was most comfortable woth a full gun and radio belt

  • avatar
    brn

    I’ve driven that era of CVPI many times and it didn’t feel slow. Was there something special about the 2009?

    Also the top speeds on the CVPI were the result of a speed limiter. It would be nice if the article pointed that out.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      And the reality is that very few depts care about the vehicle’s top speed. There just isn’t any place that is safe to use that kind of speed. I know that the local county does not opt for the EcoBoost on their vehicles. They actually have a sticker on the dash that says “No call is so urgent, not duty so important that we can’t proceed with caution and arrive safely”. Or words to that effect.

      I think it was Dal who posted a link to the city of Seattle’s police car evaluation. They didn’t test for top speed or acceleration rates, they were concerned with fuel use, maintenance cost and up time.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    L.A.P.D. has decided to lean mostly to the Chargers and they’re keeping my Son very busy with poor Q.C. and break downs .

    Me, I still miss the 1960’s and 1970’s MoPars followed by the ’77 on Caprice with 353 V8 .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      windnsea00

      That’s interesting, I see far more LAPD Explorer’s than Chargers. I would say Explorers and Crown Vics I see the most followed by the Charger and a few Taurses around…I know I got pulled over by the latter.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        It depends on the Division I *think* .

        A year or two ago there was a huge bunch of testing, the Chevy Impala washed out almost immediately .

        The Taurus Interceptor was disliked by all the Patrol Cops I talked to because it was so damn tight ~ with the radio and computer etc. etc., they couldn’t fit well and often got hung up when deploying rapidly .

        Truly I don’t know, I work in down town and saw a bit of everything .

        -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      Chargers and Explorers here. Neither has been particularly difficult to keep on the road so my anecdotal hearsay is as good as yours (I work for the agency that insures most City/County cop cars in my state).

      I went through the POST training and I was honestly shocked at how slow the Crown Vics were.

      Having done this for a while though, slow crown vics were good. There is no reason that most officers need a car as fast as these. It’s been proven over and over that high speed pursuits are simply to dangerous to bystanders to engage in. If an agency insists on pursuit capable vehicles, those really should be only going to a few extremely well trained and level headed people who have the mental ability to back-off if appropriate.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Agreed ;

        Better training and more practice would be monies well spent but not gonna happen methinks .

        I worked for LAX before their Keystone Cops were folded into the L.A.P.D. (over L.A.P.D.’s screaming protests I might add) and once a week they’d wreck a Malibu squad car trying to imitate Starsky and Hutch in the completely enclosed parking lots….

        You’d think with multiple radio cars they’d simply block the exits instead of re hashing a 1970’s Burt Reynolds movie chase scene, right ? .

        Not a chance .

        Bang crash, another one bites the dust .

        Comedy on a fairly small scale .

        This is why I don’t own a seriously fast car : I simply don’t have either the skillset or maybe the reserve to know when to back off .

        I have ever so much fun driving slow cars as fast as they’ll go though =8-) .

        -Nate

  • avatar
    tylanner

    After looking at C&Ds best sports car thingy….cops can routinely expect to encounter cars that go 0-60 under 3-4s and top out above 200mph…and do all this easily under control.

    The quick helo response time makes most of this inconsequential..

    Any dual exhaust Impala or CV was suspicious.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      If you’re basing that 3-4 seconds on magazine times- these 6 second 0-60 cars would end up with about a 5.0-5.5 (and the 3-4 second cars would be a little slower). These police tests as I understand it rely on a flat footed start with GPS tracking, whereas magazine tests use a 1 foot rollout and allow the driver to stand on the brakes to get the rpm’s up. That first foot can eat significant time. It’s accurate to compare within the magazine, but it’s hard to compare that to other testing.

      6 seconds testing the way this test occurs (if I understand the protocols) is actually really good. And those cars really aren’t THAT routine. They may be routine in some specific areas, but the most common cars on the road are still Camry class and Trucks and SUVs. And a flat footed Camry or Accord V6 start is in the 7s to 8s

  • avatar
    SLLTTAC

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The local county had usually replaced the tires with the exact same tires that the car came with Goodyear RS-A but a number of the cars recently had the POS Firestone Firehawk PV41 which do suck even though they are police special tires. The state Patrol runs the OE tires down to 4/32″ and then either replace them with the OE tires or the Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice WRT and run those year round. I’ve seen many cites run the Goodyear WRT year round too. On the other hand I’ve seen some city and county cars that the agency had outfitted with POS tires from their local Les Schwab.

      I agree that a lot of the officers should not be turned loose with the kind of power that today’s police vehicles have. As I mentioned elsewhere the local city my friend works for had a massive increase in 1 car accidents with the Hemi powered Chargers. Heck when I was talking to him about their experience with the Charger he mentioned how they just lost two because the two idiot had run into each other and balled up both cars.

      • 0 avatar
        notapreppie

        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.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    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


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