Every year, the Michigan State Police test vehicles from the major manufacturers, in order to set the benchmarks for the coming year. Police administrators from all over the U.S., as well as other countries, rely on the results when selecting their fleets.
For the last 25 years, MSP has been doing their annual testing, and in 1981 the National Institute of Justice became the test's sponsor. Although the tests have changed over the years, the results have been consistently reliable, and the troopers of the Michigan State Police have continued to develop their testing protocols in order to discover ever more information regarding vehicle performance.
Acceleration and stopping distance, as well as top speed and pursuit/emergency high speed handling characteristics are tested. Ergonomics and comfort are also considered, as well as fuel efficiency
Every fall, testing of acceleration, braking and maximum speed is held at the Chrysler Proving Grounds in Chelsea, Michigan. High speed pursuit/emergency handling characteristics--otherwise referred to as vehicle dynamics--are evaluated at the Grattan Raceway in central Michigan. The tests are conducted over a weekend, with every effort made to avoid wet driving conditions. While such conditions are, indeed, typical patrol conditions--they would make fair comparison of the performance of different vehicles extremely difficult.
Vehicles are tested without any top lights or spotlights, in order to reduce wind resistance, and to assure a more even playing field. The vehicles are run with production-model tires that are available as original factory equipment.
Two different types of vehicles are tested. The first type are those vehicles that are to be used for "general service" patrol, and may be subjected to high speed and pursuit driving. The second group is made up of vehicles that are more likely to be used as "special service" vehicles. These are the four-wheel-drive vehicles, the SUVs, and the pickup trucks. Last year, a third category was added--for motorcycles.
Automobiles such as the ubiquitous Ford Crown Victoria that we're all so familiar with, make up the general service category, accompanied by some specially designed sport utility vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Tahoe. All vehicles are subjected to acceleration, braking and top speed testing. Only the general purpose patrol vehicles--and a few specially designated SUVs--participate in the high speed handling (vehicle dynamics) tests.
2008 Models Tested
This year's tests included vehicles submitted by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. There were 11 vehicles in the General Service category:
- Dodge Charger 3.5 liter
- Dodge Charger 5.7 liter
- Dodge Magnum 3.5 liter
- Dodge Magnum 5.7 liter
- Ford Police Interceptor 3.27 4.6 liter
- Ford Police Interceptor 3.27 4.6 liter
- Ford Police Interceptor E85 3.55 4.6 liter
- Chevrolet Impala 9C1 3.9 liter
- Chevrolet Impala 9C1 E85 3.9 liter
- Chevrolet Tahoe PPV 5.3 liter
- Chevrolet Tahoe PPV E85 5.3 liter
There were five vehicles in the Special Service category:
- Chevrolet Tahoe (4WD) 5.3 liter
- Chevrolet Suburban 3/4 ton (4WD) 6.0 liter
- Ford Explorer (2WD) 4.6 liter
- Ford Expedition (2WD) 5.4 liter 3V
- Ford F-150 (2WD) 5.4 liter Super Crew Cab
Acceleration and top speed testing was rated in increments. Each vehicle's acceleration performance was measured in increments of 10 mph; so the first test was from 0 to 20 mph, the next from 0 to 30 mph, and so on, up to 0 to 100 mph, then a top speed was recorded.
Test numbers were pretty close from vehicle to vehicle, but the Dodge vehicles were the clear winners. In the General Service category, the Dodge Magnum 5.7 liter was quickest in the first three test brackets (0-20, 0-30 and 0-40 mph) followed closely by the Dodge Charger 5.7 liter, then the Ford Police Interceptor 3.55 4.6 liter. The Dodge Charger 5.7 liter took the next six test brackets, followed by the Dodge Magnum 5.7 liter. In other words, the two Dodges were number one and two in every test bracket. The Dodge Charger 5.7 liter also took top speed honors (148 mph), with the number two slot going to the Chevrolet Impala 9CI 3.9 liter (142 mph).