Running Michigan's gauntlet

Pushing the 2009 police vehicle models to the peak of their potential


     September. Michigan. The morning sun has burnt off the dew. Stacks of tires anxiously await each corner of the day —yet dread every burning screech. The sounds of years of vehicle engineering rev and almost roar out to the track, "Bring It On."

     The Michigan State Police Vehicle (MSPV) Tests were held this year September 20 to 22. The evaluations comprised of the very same aspects the program has come to be known for: Acceleration, Top speed, Brake and Dynamics.

     Vehicle braking and acceleration and all motorcycle aspects of the tests were held at the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea with the remaining vehicle's dynamics gauntlet taking place at the Grattan Raceway in Grattan.

     Participating this year were three Ford Police Interceptors, the 3.27 and 3.55 models and a non-published law enforcement-only model; two Chevrolet Impalas, the 9C1 and E85; and two Tahoes (the only SUV-type vehicle included), 5.7 and E85; the Dodge Chargers 3.5 and 5.7; the BMW R1200RTP and G 650 XP; the Harley-Davidson Police Road King and Electra Glide; and the Buell Ulysses XB12XP.

New for 2009

     Barring a major outer-body reconstruction, it can be difficult to detect a vehicle's differences from one model year to the next. Manufacturers do boast a new set of features for their 2009 law enforcement packages.

  •      While it seems the gasoline-fueled versions were only analyzed in the MSPV Tests, the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor (CVPI) versions do offer alternative fuel options to police; Ford identifies this as Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFV). According to the Ford Fleet Preview Guide, "FFV extends to the CVPI, adding ammunition to [law enforcement's] total fleet purchasing requirements." This flexible-fuel capability comes as a standard feature.

         Other newly added standard features to the CVPI are power-adjustable foot pedals and cage/partition-compatible front-seat side airbags.

         Ford provides its CVPIs with three pre-engineered police packages. These packages are: (1) Comfort and Convenience, which includes AM/FM stereo/single-CD player, cruise control and power driver seat; (2) Street Appearance, which includes a chrome grille, fascia inserts, door handle bezel, tail lamp and rear appliqués, color-keyed retail bodyside moldings, badging, full wheel covers and with color-keyed panels; (3) the Police Prep Package includes the Base Police Prep, Base Lighting, Complete Police Prep, Ready-for-the-Road, and Visibility packages. Ford CVPI models include the Protective Products Inc. ballistic door panels.

  •      The MSPV Tests ran both the Chevrolet Impala 9C1 and E85. While they appeared similar on the Grattan pavement, they performed alike as well. The 2009 Impalas provide a revised battery with an output of 720 CCA, an ebony-only interior color in the 9C1 version and the discontinuation of the Active Fuel Management system.

         The Impalas and Tahoes feature side curtain airbags with front seatback as standard equipment.

  •      Almost repeating results from 2008, the Dodge Chargers feature many police-minded features and options. For example, in 2008 Dodge introduced a full-size spare tire system to minimize the spare tire's footprint in the trunk.

         Also equipped in the Chargers is a police-specific Electronic Stability Program. According to the 2009 Dodge Charger brochure, the program works by comparing the driver's "intended" course with the vehicle's "actual" course. The technology detects differences, applies the brakes to individual wheels and controls the engine power to help the vehicle on the "intended" path. This program includes an antilock brake system, all-speed traction control, yaw sensor and a steering angle sensor.

         Due to electronic stability control systems, police-reported single-vehicle crashes were reduced by 26 percent for passenger cars and fatal single-vehicle crashes decreased by 36 percent in passenger cars, as noted in a 2007 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

  •      Harley-Davidson again submitted its Police Road King and Police Electra Glide. However, Buell, a subsidiary of Harley-Davidson, also contributed the Ulysses XB12XP to law enforcement's off-road vehicle arsenal.

         The 2009 Harley Road King and Electra Glide models introduce an all-new chassis for the FL family — 50 percent fewer parts and 50 percent fewer welds. This chassis now accommodates a new, wider Dunlop MT multi-tread rear tire, increasing carrying capacity and rear tire tread life. These latest police Harley's also include a two degree lean angle increase (one degree each direction) and a new 68-tooth rubber isolated rear drive sprocket to smoothen power delivery.

         The 2009 Buell Ulysses XB12XP features 74 degrees of steering sweep for enhanced off-pavement handling, making tighter turns easier. Its 6.75-inch ground clearance allows off-road police greater access and maneuverability in unpaved environments. Also new for the Buell Ulysses is a zero torsional load braking system. Mounted to the wheel's perimeter, this system reduces unsprung weight transferring breaking power directly to the rim instead of through the spokes.

  •      BMW added its G 650 XP to the MSPV evaluations. Street legal, the off-road designed bike is capable of going 101 mph with its 652-cc engine. For off-road needs, the bike drives forward with a 21-inch front tire, helping to traverse most obstacles.

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