Introduction

Introduction

After 15 years of dominating the police-cruiser market, the Ford Crown Victoria-based Police Interceptor will be retired in late 2011. Since 1996, when GM stopped building the Chevy Caprice, Ford's hasn't had much competition in the police-car niche, as about 85 percent of the 75,000 police cars currently sold in the U.S. are "PI's."

But now police agencies all over the country will have some big decisions to make, and plenty of options as they look for replacements. Last October and November, General Motors and Ford both announced plans for all-new police cars that will be "purpose-built" -- that is, specifically designed and built as police cruisers. Today's police cars have been, for the most part, tuned versions of normal street cars.
Introduction

Introduction

GM said it will start building a new Chevy Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle (PPV) in time for it to hit the highways in early 2011. Ford announced it will deliver the new Ford Police Interceptor in time to replace the Crown Vic cruiser when it goes away later next year.

But Ford and GM aren't the only players. There's also Chrysler and the new Carbon Motors, which has announced it will produce a new purpose-built police cruiser of its own -- which it is currently referring to as the "E7," or more potently as "The Machine" -- starting in 2012.
Ford

Ford

The new Taurus-based police car comes on the heels of safety concerns about the old Crown Victoria-based vehicle, which was faulted for its fuel-tank design and location. Law enforcement officials said the cars were to blame for fires resulting from rear-end collisions. Ford later offered a fire suppression system for their fuel tanks and a protective shell around the trunk itself, which prevented items inside from piercing through into the tank. The new Taurus-based model passes a brand-new 75-mph rear-end crash test, something Ford claims no other law enforcement vehicle can do.
Ford

Ford

In addition to being safer, the new "PI" will be greener by an orchard's worth of trees. Ford will offer law enforcement two different engines, but no V-8 engine will be offered. Vehicles will be outfitted with either a 3.5-liter V-6 (263 hp) or a 3.5-liter Ecoboost twin-turbo V-6 (365 hp). In keeping with the efficiency theme, the Ecoboost cars come equipped with a six-speed transmission. Current Taurus EPA fuel economy puts the sedan at 18 city / 28 highway, but given the added weight of the police unit, fuel economy will likely drop by a few miles per gallon.
Ford

Ford

Ford insists the new Taurus-based Police Interceptor shares its skin and some of its powertrain components with the civilian version but little else. As with the past Crown Victoria-based PIs, this new cop car receives significantly upgraded brakes, better cooling and a beefier alternator. Police-specific upgrades continue in the interior as well, with stab-proof seats to protect the driver and partner, while the rear doors extend an extra 10 degrees to accommodate loading handcuffed suspects.
GM

GM

Chevy's police package will officially go on sale in June of 2011. Ordering for detective-spec cars will commence in October of this year, while those officers looking forward to the police package will need to wait until next January to place their orders. The new Caprice will feature a rather traditional layout, with seating for two officers in the cushy front seats and two less lucky individuals in the rear behind a full-width partition. Motivation comes from a 355-horsepower, 6.0-liter V8 engine driving the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
GM

GM

The Caprice will still use a pushrod V8, a version of the venerable Chevy Small Block. GM believes that at the end the day, officers need power and speed in their line of work more than efficiency, while other manufacturers are offering alternative powerplants such as diesels or smaller engines. GM's V8 will feature active fuel management, which turning off four of those eight cylinders while cruising, and eventually a smaller V6 will be offered.
GM

GM

We've been extra curious about the special "Detective Package" that adds some plainclothes stealthiness to the Caprice, especially as it seems to hint at what the oft-rumored civilian version of this car might look like. It's available in seven different colors and uses all the same mechanical underpinnings as the standard police package. For the moment at least, this Caprice remains unavailable to John Q. Public in a retail model. But insiders have heard that a version for the public could go on sale in 2012 as a 2013 model year. Until then, get used to the sight of this one.
Chrysler

Chrysler

There was a time when Dodge was a major player in the police car field. In the early '70s, the black and white Dodge Monaco (as exemplified in the Blues Brothers film) was a common sight patrolling the streets. As the '80s faded into the '90s, Chrysler dropped out of the cop car market when its entire lineup went front-wheel drive. Today Chrysler sells a Dodge Charger police vehicle, which has yet to bring back those glory days.
Chrysler

Chrysler

For a time, there was a Dodge Magnum police car as well, but that model was discontinued in 2007. "We will continue to produce the Charger police vehicle in 2011" and beyond, said Chrysler spokesperson Kathy Graham. "We see Ford's decision (to discontinue the Crown Vic) an opportunity to grow our market share -- our goal is to increase our market share to 40 percent over the next 12-14 months." She added that Chrysler presently has approximately 35,000 police vehicles on the road, with a 17 percent market share.
Chrysler

Chrysler

Chargers have proved increasingly popular for local agencies, perhaps in part because of the available 3.5-L V6 that helps reduce fuel consumption. Even the 340-hp 5.7-L Hemi V8 beats the 4.6-L V8 in the Ford Crown Vic on mileage thanks to its cylinder deactivating MDS system, which allows it to run on four cylinders under light loads. However, when you bury the right pedal, this thing moves. In the most recent testing by the Michigan State Police, the cop Charger got to 60 mph in 6.52 seconds, over 2 seconds faster than the Crown Vic at 8.63 seconds. Even the V6 Charger runs 0-60 in 8.9 seconds.
Carbon

Carbon

The Indiana-based Carbon Motor corp., founded in 2003, is the world's first manufacturer of purpose-built law enforcement vehicles. With the retirement of the Ford Crown Victoria next year, Carbon is attempting to get its foot in the door and sell more of its E7 police cars to law enforcement agencies around the country. It will be a challenge, though, as Carbon will face stiff competition from the Chevrolet Caprice, the Ford Police Interceptor and the Dodge Charger.
Carbon

Carbon

In March 2010, BMW and Carbon Motors announced that the German automaker would supply its highly regarded 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder diesel for these new police vehicles. Carbon has placed an order for 240,000 units of the same diesel engine used in the BMW X5 35d and 335d. In current U.S. emissions-legal form, the diesel produces 265 horsepower and 425 lb-feet of torque.
Carbon

Carbon

Powered by the BMW diesel engine, the Carbon E7 is expected to achieve up to a 40-percent reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to current police vehicles. While this diesel-powered E7 will certainly be fuel efficient, it will also be substantially more expensive than current police cruisers. Performance, however, should not be a problem, and 0-60 miles per hour in the mid-six-second range should be easily achievable with all that torque.