Running Michigan's gauntlet

     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.

     While the tests also examined BMW's R1200RTP 2008 model, the 2009 does lower the R1200's first gear in its enduro gear box — this helps minimize clutch wear from pulling away from stops and helps make low-speed pursuits, parade use and officer training easier on the bike. Also new is an optional integrated dynamic tire pressure monitoring system. This system, when installed, displays the front and rear tire psi with two color warnings. An amber warning alerts of a slow leak/loss of pressure, while a red warning alerts of a sudden decrease of pressure or urgent leak.

     The R1200 also features a traction control system which helps keep the rear wheel from spinning — synchronizing both wheels to a 2-mph difference. According to BMW, some test drivers mentioned they heard and felt this system "kicking in" when leaning into the tight corners during the motorcycle dynamic evaluations at the Chrysler Proving Grounds.

     Both police models of the R1200 and G 650 provide an anti-lock braking system standard, yet optional for the consumer models.

Best of show

     While the Michigan State Tests are designed to demonstrate the 2009 police vehicles operation potential, the top performing vehicles were not as diversified.

     With its 5.7 HEMI V8 and 370 horsepower, the Dodge Charger lead the "Top Speed" results at 146 mph — however the 2009 brochure cites its top speed at 148, see Table 2 on Page 40.

     Ahead in top speed in the motorcycle division was the BMW R1200 RTP. This 2-cylinder, 1,170-cc, 6,000-rpm high-speed motorbike was clocked at 130 mph, see Table 3 on Page 44.

     Acceleration testing concluded no surprises; once the Dodge Charger 5.7 began its sprint, no other vehicles caught up. It reached 60 mph at 5.96 seconds and 100 mph at 14.29 seconds, see Table 2 on Page 40.

     The BMW R1200 RTP met both 60 mph and 100 mph quickest. It reached 60 mph at 4.41 seconds and 100 mph at 11.27 seconds, see Table 3. In comparison, according to its Web site, the Porsche 911 Carrera S, a reported police vehicle in Germany, can hit 100 km/h (62 mph) at 4.7 seconds.

     Screeching this to a halt, 2009 brake testing revealed the Dodge Charger 3.5 with an estimated shortest stopping distance from 60 mph at 135.1 feet — a tenth of a foot shorter than its brother, the 5.7, see Table 1 on Page 38.

     While being able to brake and accelerate are important, how the machinery handles its environment with speed and maneuverability combined can have the most effect on the driver's safety. Vehicle dynamics averaged the lap times of five laps from four drivers — each driver drove each vehicle once. The Dodge Charger 5.7 had best overall average lap time of 1:37.08 seconds.

     However, the newest vehicle on Grattan concrete, the Buell Ulysses XB12XP, earned a 5:36.55-second overall average — almost a full 13 seconds over the 2008 motorcycle's best overall average, see Table 4.

     Police fleets should consider more than engine size, torque and speed, and decide whether the vehicle can meet their needs. Aside from the reported, manufacturers may offer alternative vehicles not tested in these tests. While one vehicle may succeed in one agency's gauntlet of demands, another may not.

     Editor's Note: All test results are preliminary and are subject to change upon confirmation of data with the Michigan State Police.

     Additional information on the 2009 and previous year's police vehicle evaluations can be found online at the Michigan State Police Web site www.michigan.gov/msp.

Table 1
Brake Testing Results
Speed (seconds) Ford Police Interceptor Chevrolet Impala 9C1 3.9L Chevrolet Tahoe PPV 2WD 5.3L Dodge Charger 3.5L Dodge Charger 5.7L Ford Police Interceptor (Non-published) BMW R1200RTP Harley Davidson Police Road King Harley Davidson Police Electra Glide Buell Ulysses BMW G 650 XP
Phase 1 Average Deceleration Rate 27.28 27 27.33 28.52 28.67 27.88 26.39 22.96 23.14 24.62 24.48
Phase 2 Average Deceleration Rate 27.09 26.69 26.75 28.8 28.62 27.42 26.09 22.77 24.5 24.73 25.4
Overall Average Deceleration Rate 27.19 26.84 27.04 28.66 28.65 27.65 26.24 22.87 23.82 24.68 24.94
Projected Stopping Distance from 60.0 MPH 142.4 144.2 143.2 135.1 135.2 140 147.6 169.3 162.6 156.9 155.3
Table 2
Acceleration / Top Speed Results — Vehicles
Speed Ford Police Interceptor 3.27 4.6L Ford Police Interceptor 3.55 4.6L Chevrolet Impala 9C1 3.9L Chevrolet Impala 9C1 E85 2.9L Chevrolet Tahoe PPV 2WD 5.3L Chevrolet Tahoe PPV 2WD E85 5.3L Dodge Charger 3.5L Dodge Charger 5.7L
0-20 MPH (Sec) 1.92 1.95 1.97 2.06 2.10 2.15 2.08 1.59
0-30 MPH (Sec) 3.19 3.17 3.15 3.29 3.32 3.39 3.41 2.52
0-40 MPH (Sec) 4.57 4.60 4.40 4.57 4.52 4.62 4.83 3.43
0-50 MPH (Sec) 6.56 6.64 6.08 6.27 6.31 6.39 6.58 4.54
0-60 MPH (Sec) 8.84 8.79 8.37 8.59 8.40 8.50 8.79 5.96
0-70 MPH (Sec) 11.30 11.23 10.77 11.05 10.58 10.70 11.37 7.45
0-80 MPH (Sec) 14.41 14.42 13.39 13.78 13.51 13.58 14.33 9.35
0-90 MPH (Sec) 18.49 18.70 16.86 17.40 17.80 18.03 18.55 11.71
0-100 MPH (Sec) 24.07 23.70 22.22 22.53 22.56 22.86 23.52 14.29
TOP SPEED 128 120 139 140 132 133 136 146
Table 3
Acceleration / Top Speed Results — Motorcycles
Speed BMW R1200 RTP Harley Davidson Police Road King Harley Davidson Police Electra Glide Buell Ulysses BMW G 650 XP
0-20 MPH (Sec) 1.30 1.72 1.30 1.60 1.39
0-30 MPH (Sec) 1.98 2.73 2.00 2.41 2.06
0-40 MPH (Sec) 2.62 4.20 2.83 3.20 3.07
0-50 MPH (Sec) 3.54 5.56 3.85 4.11 4.09
0-60 MPH (Sec) 4.41 7.56 5.31 5.15 5.58
0-70 MPH (Sec) 5.67 9.72 6.85 6.47 7.42
0-80 MPH (Sec) 7.15 12.91 9.09 8.15 10.16
0-90 MPH (Sec) 8.82 17.13 12.22 10.04 15.27
0-100 MPH (Sec) 11.27 30.02 28.13 13.58 N/A
TOP SPEED 130 105 104 106 101
Table 4
Dynamics Results
Vehicle Lap Time (minutes)
Chevrolet Tahoe PPV 2WD E85 5.7L SPFI 01:42.60
Chevrolet Tahoe PPV 2WD 5.7L SPFI 01:42.98
Chevrolet Impala 3.9L SPFI E85 01:42.22
Chevrolet Impala 9C1 3.9L SPFI 01:42.25
Ford Police Interceptor 3.55 4.6L SPFI 01:40.36
Ford Police Interceptor 3.27 4.6L SPFI 01:40.81
Ford Police Interceptor (Non-published) 01:41.04
Dodge Charger 5.7L SPFI 01:37.08
Dodge Charger 3.5 SPFI 01:40.35
Harley-Davidson FLHTP Electra Glide 06:14.25
Harley-Davidson FLHP Road King 06:12.23
BMW R1200 RTP 05:47.60
Buell Ulysses 05:36.55
BMW G 650 XP Challenge 05:43.08

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