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Michigan State Police take on a new crop of cruisers

Fri, 21 Oct 2011

The Michigan State Police did its annual cop-car shootout last month at the 10-turn, two-mile Grattan Raceway, and the preliminary results are in. It seems the Motor City still knows how to take down a perp because the Detroit Three were fully represented.

Ford brought a few models of the Police Interceptor , based on the Taurus, and the Police Interceptor Utility, based on the Explorer. Chevrolet brought its new Caprice and Impala , both V6 and V8 versions, and a Tahoe. Dodge brought V8 and V6 Chargers .

The turbocharged all-wheel-drive Taurus stepped off the line quickest, going from 0 to 20 mph in just 1.58 seconds. The V8-powered Chevy Caprice was one tick behind, and the V8 Charger was two ticks behind that. To 60 mph, the Charger logged the lowest time (5.83 seconds). Right behind it was the V8 Caprice (5.91 seconds), followed by the all-wheel-drive turbocharged Taurus (5.92 seconds).

The speed category, which is a bit less important than acceleration, unless of course you're pulling people over on the autobahn, was topped by the Chevy Caprice at 154 mph. The V8 Charger came in next at 152 mph, then the V6 Impala at 150 mph, and finally the turbo Taurus at 148 mph.

In the brake tests, the Chevy Caprice was king. It went from 60 to 0 mph in 125.8 feet. The V6 version was less than one foot farther. The V6 Charger was next at 127 feet, then the Ford Explorer Police Interceptor at 128.4 feet.

Putting it all together on the track, it was the Hemi-equipped Dodge Charger that dropped the hottest lap time, at 1 minute, 34.39 seconds. Next was the V8 Chevy Caprice, and behind that was the turbocharged Taurus Police interceptor at 1 minute, 35.85 seconds.

As you can see, all of these cars are pretty close in performance. Some northern districts might take the all-wheel-drive Taurus. Any place south of the Mason-Dixon Line could go with the more powerful two-wheel-drive Caprice or Charger. But let's see how they stack up in one more category.

The officers spend most of their time inside the cruiser, hopefully, so the passenger compartment is just as important as the performance. In this area, the Caprice dominates with its 129.4 cubic feet of space. The Taurus and the Charger are similar with about 120 cubic feet. In trunk size, where much of the gear is kept, the Taurus provides the most room with just more than 20 cubic feet. The Caprice and Charger are slightly smaller.

So, what have we learned? For one, the new crop of cop cars is exceedingly good. They have more features and more technology than all their predecessors combined.

Second, it's not just performance that cops are looking for. They've overwhelmingly stuck with the Ford Crown Victoria because it works in all areas: storage space, durability, comfort and the ability to easily knock another car off the road.

Lastly, it's about to get a lot more interesting in the fast lane. Sure we can spot a Crown Vic's headlights from a mile away, but how familiar are you with the Taurus halogen, or the new Caprice beams that haven't even hit the streets yet?

Scofflaws and speeders, consider yourselves warned.

By Jake Lingeman