Michigan State Police
by Zach Maskell
With production cars becoming faster and more nimble every year, law enforcement needs to make sure they’re keeping up. Our over the edge reporter Zach Maskell spent a day with one group who make sure police agencies world-wide aren’t left in the dust.
ZACH MASKELL: Since 1974 the Michigan State Police have been putting the newest patrol vehicles to the test. 12 sedans… 3 SUV’s and 7 motorcycles were put in the spotlight at Belding, Michigan’s Grattan Raceway. With electronic driver aids becoming more advanced every year… test drivers really have to pay attention to rapidly changing vehicle response.
LT. JIM FLEGEL: With the electronic stability control systems, the traction control systems, the ABS braking and the different levels of ABS braking is just simply incredible.
ZACH MASKELL: This was the most dynamic part of the evaluation. And you better believe… nothing is over looked. But, they also test for top speed, acceleration, braking, ergonomics, and communications. The MSP uses different locations and alternate drivers in order to provide objective data to over 30,000 departments in the country alone.
LT. JIM FLEGEL: The reason we use Grattan Raceway is we want to simulate emergency response driving, or pursuit driving, and this has several realistic curves and turns that you’re going to experience in the real world. It has different elevation changes, different types of turns and off cambered turns…
ZACH MASKELL: The two mile long road course allows the troopers to push the vehicles to 100% of their limits. A patrol car can see tens of thousands of miles in a year… so they’re put through the paces in order to make sure they can take the stress.
SGT. RON GROMAK: This course is quite punishing to the car so if it’s got some kind of flaw in its design, it’s going to show it here on this track because this is more a durability issue.
ZACH MASKELL: Getting around the track surest and fastest… the Dodge Charger 5.7-liter V8 with all-wheel drive. Following it… the Bow Tie brand… Caprice 6.0-liter V8… rear drive.
SGT. RON GROMAK: The manufacturers have definitely stepped up to the plate and made these law enforcement cars technologically advanced to keep them safe but they perform extremely well.
ZACH MASKELL: The rumors you’ve heard are true. Including tuned suspension, bigger brakes and a reworked engine… everything about these specialized vehicles is molded around an officer’s duties…
… Law enforcement spends a lot of time in their vehicles. That’s why it’s also important to keep in mind just how comfortable it’s going to be. What kind of seats come with it, how far the door will open, how much trunk space there is and plenty more…
… After hearing from the men and women who wear badges… The Caprice’s shifter was moved from the center console to a column-shift to allow for more room…
… Now police officers also keep the comfort of the bad guys in mind too, so if you’re ever so unfortunate enough to find yourself in the back of a cop car, pick a Caprice. There’s definitely a lot more room back here than a lot of the other vehicles…
… Well… hopefully that outcome won’t be yours. At test’s end…which vehicles did the MSP find to be the most worthy choices? For departments where ergonomics and communications are most important… the Chevrolet Tahoe takes the gold. It’s the easiest to get in and out of… and has the most room. For zero to 60… the Ford Police Interceptor AWD Ecoboost 3.5-liter V6 is the winner. With a 155 Mile per Hour top speed… The Chevrolet Caprice 6.0-liter would be hard to outrun. The Dodge Charger 5.7-liter AWD again showing what it can do… had the shortest stopping distance of 126.5 feet from 60 MPH. So which ones do the drivers favor?
SGT. RON GROMAK: Maybe 10 years ago I’d have a favorite but now, I don’t think there’s a bad car out there. I really don’t.