New Engine for Caprice PPV: The Camaro's Hot V6

The Chevy Caprice has been rolled out in three phases. First, the street appearance (retail center console), admin-oriented Detective Package powered by the 6.0L V8. Second, the uniform patrol-oriented (relocated floor shifter), general-purpose Patrol Package powered by the 6.0L V8.

The third wave of Caprice started to arrive in April: the Patrol Package and Detective Package powered by the 301 hp, 3.6L direct injection V6. This is the same 3.6L High-Feature V6 (HFV6) Spark-Ignition Direct Injection (SIDI) engine used in the Camaro, Impala and Cadillac. And this engine has already seen years of police use by the cops Down Under.

The V6 sedan uses slightly different front springs to account for the difference in weight between the V6 and V8. Other than that, the Caprice PPV V6 and Caprice PPV V8 are identical.

The Caprice PPV sedan is a direct replacement for the Ford CVPI in terms of front seat room, rear seat room, trunk space and overall handling. With the 301 hp V6, the Caprice is a direct replacement for the Ford CVPI in terms of overall performance and fuel economy. Actually, the Caprice V6 is a notch or two better than the Ford CVPI in each and every one of these areas.

Overall Size

The EPA puts vehicles into different categories (large sedan, mid-size, compact) based on their total volume. This is a combination of their interior volume and their trunk volume. The Ford CVPI has an interior volume of 107.5 cubic feet and a trunk volume (with full-size spare) of 17.6 cubic feet. The Caprice has an interior volume of 112 cubic feet and a trunk volume with full-size spare and auxiliary battery) of 17.4 cubic feet. Calculated, the Caprice is actually 3 percent larger than the Ford CVPI.

The Caprice has almost exactly the same front seat volume as the outgoing Ford CVPI. However, it has a much larger rear seat measurement, especially legroom. There is nothing like it among current police sedans. New for 2013, the Caprice comes with police-specific rear door panels. These have closed-off pockets and flatter packets.

The Best Police Seats

The Caprice has the most comfortable, supportive, duty belt-compatible seats in all of policing, period. The police seat has been under development since 2006 and it shows. The right amount of seat bottom and seat back bolsters for support. The right amount of sculpting for the police duty belt – both relieved for the duty gun, and soft-cushioned in the area of the belt with handcuff case, etc. It has the right amount of initial comfort followed by all-day support – the right combinations of foam of different densities.

The multiple foam layer seats are covered with two kinds of fabric. The center sections of the seat back and cushion use high-wear, medium-friction fabric to somewhat secure the officer in the seat – keep from sliding around. The bolsters on the seat back and cushion use high-wear, low-friction fabric to allow officers to quickly slide in and out. The challenging and seemingly contradictory issues of lumbar support in the same exact seat location as the duty belt location have been successfully (amazingly so) addressed.

Console with Cop Gear

Don’t be put off by the floor-mounted gear shifter on the Caprice. It has been modified from a dual gate (retail) to a single gate (police), made 1 inch shorter, and moved to the left. As a result, a fully loaded center console can be unbolted from a Ford CVPI and bolted right to the center console mounting plate available from Kerr Industries, the factory offline upfitter. In fact, Kerr Industries has a YouTube posting where the center console (full of gear) is removed from a Ford CVPI and placed right in the Caprice.

Yes, the shifter can be easily reached even with a laptop display mounted to the dash and a swivel-mounted keyboard. In fact, the side-shifter is actually a bit more ergonomic than some dash or column-mounted shifters. From the 3 o’clock position of the steering wheel, the officer’s right hand drops straight down onto the shifter.

The side-shifter actually has one distinct advantage over the column-mounted shifter. In some column-shift police sedans, officers frequently crack their knuckles against the computer display, keyboard or other upfit gear. Not so with the Caprice side-shifter.

Largest Rear Seat

The rear seat? There is nothing like it in any police sedan, period. The huge rear seat volume allows the front seats to be moved far enough to the rear – including a significant seat back recline – and still leave room for a full prisoner partition and the prisoner. If your department arrests a lot of people and puts them in the rear seat, the Caprice is definitely the patrol sedan for you.

When the trunk volume is adjusted for the Ford CVPI full-size spare, the Caprice and the CVPI have the same trunk volume. Since the Caprice full-size spare is concealed under a flat load floor, the usable trunk space of the Caprice is arguably greater. 

Either Engine, Same Cost

The Caprice PPV is available in one of two engines. The standard engine is the 301 hp, 3.6L HFV6 from the Camaro and Cadillac. The optional engine is the 355 hp, 6.0L V8, the Corvette “LS2” engine, also used in the Silverado pickup. The V8 is a no charge option.

The advantages of the 3.6L V6 over the 6.0L V8 are much better performance than the Ford CVPI and excellent fuel economy. During LASD “street drive” tests, the V6 Caprice averaged 17.9 mpg, while the 6.0L V8 Caprice averaged 14.5 mpg. The advantage of the 6.0L V8 over the 3.6L V6 is acceleration exactly like the Charger Hemi V8 and the Ford Police Interceptor Sedan twin-turbo V6.

The 3.6L DOHC VVT V6 is a very sophisticated and expensive engine. It produces just 50 hp less than the optional 6.0L OHV V8, is just 1.2 seconds slower to 60 mph than the V8. Of course, the more time the police Caprice spends idling, the greater the real-world mileage of the 3.6L V6 over the 6.0L V8.


The 301 hp, 3.6L V6 Caprice hits 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. The 250 hp, 4.6L V8 Ford CVPI averages 8.8 seconds. The V6 Caprice reaches 100 mph in 18.4 seconds versus 24.4 seconds for the V8 Ford CVPI. In lap times around Grattan Raceway, the home of the Michigan State Police vehicle tests, the V6 Caprice crossed the start-finish line 30 car-lengths ahead of the V8 Ford CVPI.

In the Los Angeles County Sheriff “street-drive” fuel economy tests, the 3.6L V6 Caprice averaged 17.9 mpg. During the same controlled but real world tests last year, the 4.6L V8 Ford CVPI averaged 15.8 mpg with the standard equipment axle, making the Caprice V6 more than 2 mpg better. The 3.6L V6 is E85 FlexFuel rated.

Driving Impressions

We put over 500 miles on the V6-powered Caprice 9C1 Patrol in urban, suburban, rural and interstate driving. Objectively, based on hard numbers, the 301 hp V6 Caprice is clearly the direct replacement for the 250 hp V8 Ford CVPI. But also subjectively, based on more than a week of use, the big Caprice is the direct replacement for the big CVPI.

Our “on the job” experience with the Caprice V6 confirmed the LASD “street drive” fuel economy results. During their 100-mile test loop with several different drivers in the two Caprice PPVs, they got 14.5 mpg for the 6.0L V8 and 17.9 mpg for the 3.6L V6…a 3.4 mpg difference.

We put 500 miles on the Caprice 3.6L V6 and averaged 21.8 mpg. Under similar enforcement duties, we put 1,000 miles on a Caprice 6.0L V8 and averaged 17.3 mpg…a 4.5 mpg advantage of the 3.6L V6 over the 6.0L V8. And none of the traffic offenders outran this 300 hp V6. Expect a 4 mpg difference between the V6 and V8.

More Responsive

Facts, figures, numbers and stats aside, the V6 Caprice actually “feels” like the V8 Ford CVPI. During acceleration, the increase in engine noise versus the seat of the pants feel is similar for these two sedans. However, the Caprice V6 has better throttle response at all speeds – low end, mid-range, high-speed.

Why? The Caprice has 50 hp more than the CVPI and has two more transmission gears. Whether accelerating from a U-turn or accelerating to pass, or accelerating to reach 100+mph speeds, the Caprice does it with less throttle than the CVPI.  

One area of the Caprice V6 performance especially stands out. Under full throttle, the Ford CVPI has an infamous flat spot between 65 mph and 85 mph. Thanks to the 6-speed in the Caprice (versus the 4-speed in the CVPI), the Caprice V6 has no such flat spot. The Caprice engine pulls hard and steady from the standing start to the top speed of…148 mph.

The Caprice V6 powertrain was originally developed around a numerically higher (3.27:1) axle for a bit more performance. At the later stages of development, before the Caprice went into production, this rear gear was changed to a numerically lower (2.92:1) axle for the maximum fuel economy – the same axle used in the Caprice V8. This change had only a slight affect on performance – the V6-powered Caprice is still faster than the V8-powered Ford CVPI.

What’s New?

For 2012, front-seat knee airbags became standard. From an officer safety standpoint, in modern, airbag-equipped cars, the highest rate of injury is to the hip, pelvis and femur. These bones also take the longest to heal, even with extensive rehab. These are the areas most protected by knee airbags. For the maximum officer safety, the Caprice comes with two side thorax airbags, two roof-rail curtain airbags, two front airbags, and now two front knee airbags.

For 2012, a front-passenger door lock cylinder became standard – a potential officer safety issue. Engine idle and engine hour meters are standard. An AutonetMobile WiFi in-car router (making an Internet hotspot) is an option. So is a passenger side spotlight. Also for 2012, the trans oil cooler was repositioned lower in front of the radiator (behind the grille bowtie).

Also for 2012, the stability control was further refined for aggressive police driving. The default mode (resets with each key cycle) will remain unchanged. For 2012, performance mode makes more use of the traction control function, i.e., wheelspin will be a bit more limited.

Every Category Except One

The Caprice aces the Ford CVPI in every way to measure suitability for police fleet use. In fact, the new Caprice is a better category-by-category replacement for the out-going Ford CVPI than the Ford CVPI was for the old, out-of-production, mid-1990s Caprice.

The Ford CVPI has been the benchmark of police cars for more than 15 years – it was almost perfect for policing. Almost? For its entire police career, Ford had requests for just a bit more power, a bit faster acceleration from the CVPI. That makes today’s faster accelerating V6 Caprice better than a direct replacement for the CVPI.

And now the bad news. No, it is not long order to delivery times. The pipeline is now flowing. The Caprice PPV in either engine is now available. No, it is not the floor shifter. The center console accommodates all of our police gear. The 9C1 Patrol version of the Caprice has a 10-inch width between the seats to mount equipment to the center platform.

No, it is not replacement parts on a slow boat from Down Under. Powertrain and driveline components are shared with Camaro and Silverado. GM Fleet has identified over 200 critical police-only parts made in New South Wales and they put these parts (including body panels) in a warehouse around the U.S.

The bad news is the huge currency exchange rate between the U.S. and Australia. Their economy is currently much stronger than ours. The U.S. dollar is weaker than the Australian dollar. And the big Caprice was never intended to be the lowest cost police sedan. (That’s the Impala.)

The Caprice V6 is as big and fast as the Ford CVPI and clearly larger than the other two NextGen sedans. Expect the bid price difference between the Caprice PPV and the competition, depending on state bids, to be significantly higher. What you get is a truly big police sedan. Expect to get the difference in bid price back in higher residual value…you will essentially be selling a Chevy SS.


Proven 3.6L SIDI HFV6 (LFX)

The newest Chevy police engine is their 3.6L High Feature V6 HFV6. This is a seriously different engine from the 3.9L High Value V6 engine used in the 2006-2011 police Impalas. While the 3.9L V6 was an overhead valve (OHV) engine producing about 233 hp, the new 3.6L HFV6 is a double-overhead cam (DOHC) engine producing 301 hp in the Caprice.

The HFV6 family of engines is the result of a joint effort between Cadillac engineers in Detroit, Holden engineers in Australia, and Opel engineers in Germany. This 3.6L V6 is produced in Flint, Mich.; Port Melbourne, Australia; and St. Catherines, Canada.

The HFV6 is a new family of engines; however, this is not the first year for the 3.6L HFV6. In fact, it was introduced on the 2004 Cadillac CTS. Significantly, the 3.6L HFV6 has also been used in the Holden Commodore and Holden Statesman since 2004. The Aussie cops have already put lots of patrol miles on the 3.6L HFV6 in their big sedans long before its 2012 debut in the Chevy Caprice PPV and Impala 9C1.

Higher horsepower versions of this 3.6L HFV6 have variable valve timing (VVT) on both the intake and exhaust cams. VVT changes the timing between the cams and the crank depending on the throttle. In the most general terms, VVT advances the timing at low engine rpm for the most torque and retards the timing at high engine speeds for the most horsepower. The cams can be rotated between 15 degrees advanced (ahead) of Top Dead Center 45 degrees retarded (behind) TDC.

Direct Injection

What really put this HFV6 on the map was direct injection. Spark Ignition Direct Injection (SIDI) pushed the 3.6L HFV6 to between 301 hp (Chevy Caprice) and 312 hp (Chevy Camaro). Compared to standard engines of the same displacement, direct injection produces 15 percent more horsepower, 8 percent more torque, and 3 percent better fuel economy. Direct injection is a clear improvement over standard fuel injection.

With direct injection, gasoline from a common rail fuel line, under extremely high pressure, is injected directly into the combustion chamber. With multi-port fuel injection, gas is injected into the intake manifold or cylinder port. The more precise control over the fuel from direct injection allows much higher compression and means a more complete burn, i.e., more power, more torque, better fuel economy, fewer emissions.

Police 3.6L HFV6

For 2012, General Motors tweaked the 3.6L HFV6 a bit. The Gen3 version is 20 pounds lighter thanks to a redesigned cylinder head, which now includes an integrated exhaust manifold. The intake manifold, fuel injectors, intake valves and fuel pump have also been upgraded on this 4-year-old engine. The intake port has been redesigned for better flow, the intake valves are now larger, and the intake cams have a longer duration opening for the valves. The more air in, the more power.

This 3.6L HFV6 (LFX) is about 10 to 15 hp more powerful than the earlier 3.6L HFV6 (LLT). In addition to more power, and just slightly more torque, the new LFX-version of the 3.6L HFV6 produces its peak torque at a lower rpm than the LLT version. Torque wins drag races, and DOHC engines typically need to rev up a lot before they hit peak torque.

Finally, the 3.6L SIDI HFV6 is not a “new” engine; this is not its “first” year. The Holden Commodore, which is the Aussie police Caprice, has had this 3.6L SIDI HFV6 since the 2010 model year.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Jul/Aug 2012

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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