It used to be that every full-line American automaker offered a version of its mainstream full-size sedan to make it appropriate for police duty. By the time 1996 rolled around, the Chevrolet Caprice, which was the last would-be competitor to the standard-setting Ford Crown Victoria, was discontinued, leaving the lucrative police market to the Blue Oval Boys.

The automotive industry took notice, and plans began in corporate board rooms to remedy that situation, and even a few new entrants – most notably Carbon Motors – sprung up with promising designs that eschewed the mainstream production-based sedan design.

In 2005, Dodge rolled out a factory police package for its full-size Charger sedan, and for the first time in a decade the Crown Victoria faced some stiff V8-powered, rear-wheel-drive competition. Then in 2009, Chevrolet announced that its new Zeta platform Caprice would be returning for the 2011 model year packing a strong 6.0-liter V8 of its own.

How would Ford answer this newly mounted competition? Would the aging Panther-based Crown Vic finally get an update? Nope. Instead, Ford just recently announced that it would soon offer a highly ruggedized version of its most recent Taurus sedan, optionally equipped with the stout 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 engine powering all four wheels as seen in the revived Taurus SHO.

We decided to see for ourselves how the three new competitors stacked up against the old guard Crown Vic on paper, and as you can see, there's little to separate each offering on the spec sheets. It should prove interesting to see how police agencies react to these choices, especially since reliability and durability will be mostly unknown factors for the first time in ages. See for yourself.

Ford Crown Vic Ford Taurus Dodge Charger Chevrolet Caprice
Availability Forever Late 2011 2005 - Present 2011
Type Four-door, body on frame Four-door, enhanced unibody Four-door, unibody Four-door, unibody
Engine 4.6L V8 3.5L V6
Twin-turbo 3.5L V6
5.7L Hemi V8 6.0L V8
Power 250 horsepower 263 horsepower
365 horsepower
368 horsepower 355 horsepower
Torque 297 lb-ft 249 lb-ft
350 lb-ft
395 lb-ft 385 lb-ft
Fuel Economy 14 City / 21 Highway 18 City / 28 Highway (2010 Ford Taurus FWD)
17 City / 25 Highway (2010 Ford Taurus SHO AWD)
16 City / 25 Highway 15 City / 24 Highway (2009 Pontiac G8 GT)
Driveline Rear-Wheel Front or All-Wheel Rear-Wheel Rear-Wheel
Shifter Column Column Column Console
Wheels 17-inch steel 18-inch steel 18-inch steel 18-inch steel
Brakes Four-Wheel Discs Four-Wheel Discs Four-Wheel Discs Four-Wheel Discs
Cop Brakes Y Y Y Y
Cop Suspension Y Y Y Y
Cop Cooling Y Y Y Y
Seats Front - Cloth
Rear - Vinyl Bench
Front - Cloth
Rear - Vinyl Bench
Front - Cloth
Rear - Cloth Bench
Front - Cloth
Rear - Vinyl Bench
Interior Volume 106.4 Cubic Feet 102.3 Cubic Feet 104 Cubic Feet 112 Cubic Feet
Trunk Space 20.6 Cubic Feet 20.1 Cubic Feet 16.2 Cubic Feet 18 Cubic Feet
Special Features
Overwhelming Ubiquity

Tough as nails

Capable of withstanding 75-mph rear impact
Seats with downsized lateral bosters, cut-outs for utility belts

Ford SYNC

Safety Canopy® side-curtain air bag

Rollover protection system

Customizable steering-wheel switches

Rear doors swing 71-degrees

Capable of withstanding 75-mph rear impac
t

BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System)

Cross Traffic Alert

Rear View Camera System

Reverse Sensing System
160-mph (certified) calibrated speedometer

AM/FM radio with CD player, changer controls, four speakers and clock with auxiliary audio input jack

Load-leveling, height-control shock absorbers

Independently switched red/white LED dome lamp
Seats with downsized lateral boosters, cutouts for utility belts

In-dash touch-screen computer technology

Driver information center in the instrument cluster with selectable speed tracking feature