The death of Ford's Crown Victoria leaves a gaping void in law enforcement garages. This weekend, new high-tech models from Chevy, Dodge and Ford were tested for the first time by the Michigan State Police. Only Jalopnik has the results.
For 36 years, the Michigan State Police have run an annual battery of speed, braking and handling tests on cars, trucks and motorcycles offered to U.S. law enforcement agencies. Vehicles have to pass its standards to be qualified for sale as police vehicles and departments across the country use the more detailed data to decide what to buy and how much to pay.
Yet since the mid-1990s, agencies have taken the results and simply bought the Ford Crown Victoria. Cheap, easy to service, durable and powered by a V8 engine driving the rear wheels, the Crown Vic accounts for nearly three-fourths of all police vehicles sold, despite sporting a design whose age can only be determined by carbon dating.
But time, fuel economy, and toughening safety rules finally caught up with the Crown Vic. Faced with the choice of expensive surgery on a senior citizen, Ford decided to kill the Vic next year and attempt to convince thousands of police departments to switch to a Taurus or Explorer-based successor. Seeing an opening, Chevrolet and Dodge have pushed out new or updated rear-wheel-drive competitors, hoping to become the new iconic choice of public safety professionals.
The Michigan State Police tests were the first time all the new models were fully wrung out by someone outside the automakers. The cars were so new that Chrysler tried to shield the bodywork of the 2011 Dodge Charger Pursuit, since the civilian version hasn't been unveiled. (It didn't work.) With some 400 potential buyers from across the country kicking tires, the tests turned into a shootout of brawn versus finesse.