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Update: Dodge Police Advisory Board

Written by Police Fleet Manager Staff

The recent Dodge Police Advisory Board meeting served as a “What’s New” for the 2014 Dodge Charger Pursuit, RAM 1500 SSV and Dodge Durango SSV. The three-day meeting also served as a two-way dialogue: PAB members listened to updates and concepts from Dodge Fleet officials, then Dodge Fleet officials listened to suggestions and concerns from PAB members.

The introduction from Frank Dankovich, then-head of Government and Sales Operations was all good news. The 2013 RAM 1500 was Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year. (A month later, the 2014 RAM 1500 became Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year—the first such back-to-back achievement.)

The 3.6L Pentastar V6 once again made the Ward’s Auto World Ten Best Engine list—for the third straight year. Chrysler Group had completed 41 straight months of year over year growth. The sales of the Charger Pursuit had double since the introduction of the NextGen 2011 Charger. “From zero to best selling police vehicle in four years,” Dankovich said.

Prior to the re-engineered 2011 Charger, Dodge controlled the majority of the state police or highway patrol fleets in seven states. Since the upgrade in 2011, the Charger has become the car of choice in 22 states…and two more were very close to going Dodge. The Dodge Charger Pursuit is the top-selling police package vehicle with 38 to 40 percent of the market.

What Dankovich could not have known was that four days after the PAB meeting, the Charger Pursuit 5.7L AWD would set a track record during the Michigan State Police vehicle tests at Grattan Raceway.

 

All-Wheel Drive

The biggest police fleet news of the year for the Charger is the long-awaited All-Wheel Drive. Production of the Charger Pursuit AWD starts in April. Heads-up! AWD is only available with the 5.7L V8.

For complete coverage of the basic Borg-Warner AWD system and how it works, see the article on the Charger R/T AWD from the September-October 2013 issue of Police Fleet Manager. Go to www.hendonpub.com, click Resources, then click Article Archives, keyword: All-Wheel Drive Charger.

Very few changes were made from the retail Charger R/T AWD to the police package Charger Pursuit AWD. In fact, the hardware (driveline and chassis components) is nearly all the same. However, quite a bit of software tuning was done: when the AWD kicks in, how long it stays engaged, when it reverts back to RWD. This includes some trigger events not related to the retail engagement commands and situations. Think: hard on the brakes before a U-turn or median crossing. Think: throttle position and kickdown logic.

AWD improves handling at the limit of traction. AWD is easy to drive hard, i.e., it demands less concentration during at-the-limit driving. AWD makes the average driver better and the good driver great. And AWD is not just for improved traction on snowy roads. The record-setting run on the dry Grattan road course proved that. Most importantly, there is zero learning curve with AWD and zero driver training needed specific to the AWD. AWD is RWD without the drama.

The service intervals for the police AWD unit are exactly the same as for the retail cars: Change the transfer case oil every 50,000 miles. Fuel economy? Just like the retail Chargers, expect 1-mpg less mileage.

Due to the offset required for the AWD system, the AWD Charger Pursuit will use different steel wheels than the RWD Charger Pursuit. This wheel change, this new wheel, only effects the AWD Charger. The five-spoke steel wheel on the RWD Charger remains unchanged. The unique, 16-spoke AWD steel wheel is both visually and physically very different from the five-spoke RWD steel wheel. Due to the offset needed for the AWD components, the two different wheels are not interchangeable between RWD and AWD Chargers.

Of course, mix-ups in the fleet garage may occur. That said, the RWD wheel will physically bolt to the front of an AWD Charger but the tire will stick out beyond the wheelwell. The AWD wheel will not bolt to the front of an RWD Charger; instead, the wheel/tire will come into contact with suspension components.

Speaking of new wheels, the Charger with the Street Appearance Package will come with steel wheels and full wheel covers instead of aluminum wheels. The larger steel wheels, the same ones used on all the other RWD Chargers, are needed to clear the massive new front brake rotors.

For mid-2014, all Charger Pursuits (V6, V8, RWD, AWD, Street Appearance) will get new, much larger brakes. The Charger V6 and V8 with this BR9 “Big Brake” Package were successfully tested during the annual Michigan State Police and Los Angeles County Sheriff vehicle tests. For more on the “Big Brake” package, see the sidebar.

 

New for 2014

A new option for the Charger Pursuit is the ParkSense® Rear Park Assist System. This uses ultrasonic sensors in the rear fascia that detect objects up to 6 feet away. The purpose of Parksense is to alert the driver of objects in the rear that cannot be seen below the trunk lid level.

ParkSense makes an audible signal and lights a visual icon in the EVIC dash display. This option has an MSRP of $300, which is a fraction of the cost of a repaired rear fascia.

 

SecurePark

For 2014, SecurePark® will be standard on the Charger Pursuit. SecurePark does an electronic frequency search for the key fob. If the car senses the key within a certain close proximity, it will allow the Brake Transmission Shift Interlock (BTSI) module to let the Charger be shifted out of Park, once one of the two buttons on the steering wheel is pushed. If the fob is not detected, the BTSI will not allow the shift from Park to any other gear. Simple as that.

SecurePark can be engaged or disengaged by the buttons on the forward side of the steering wheel. When engaged, an icon on the dash will indicate so. Prior to SecurePark, if the Charger is running, even if the fob is gone, the car can still shift out of Park and into Drive or Reverse.

The default position for each new key-on cycle is that SecurePark is not activated. That means you must remember to activate the SecurePark system every time you start the car. One suggestion was for the system to be enabled or disabled automatically simply by detecting the fob. Dodge, however, wants the officer to make a conscious effort to enable or disable the system.

With SecurePark, knowing where the button is to deactivate the system is not enough. It has to detect the fob. Heads up! It does no good to activate SecurePark if you leave a spare fob somewhere inside the Charger.

 

Axle Ratios

As the police demand for the Charger Pursuit increases, so does the pressure on the Brampton Assembly Plant to keep up. One way to both increase efficiency and control costs is to reduce plant complexity. That means dropping options that have a low take rate.

For 2014, the 2.65 ratio axle ratio will be standard on both the 3.6L V6 and 5.7L V8. On the 3.6L V6, the 3.07 ratio rear gear is optional (and strongly recommended). However, the once-optional 3.06 ratio axle for the 5.7L V8 RWD is no longer available. Just to keep the bid spec writers on their toes, the 3.06 ratio is the only axle available on the 5.7L V8 AWD version.

 

New, Wider Tires

In April, the Charger Pursuit will get an optional tire size. The wider tire uses the same wheel diameter, but has a wider section width. The standard tire is the P225/60R18. The new, optional tire is the P245/55R18 tire.

Why the optional tire? The AWD drivetrain asks more of all four tires than a RWD drivetrain, so a larger tire was part of the police-spec AWD development process. The standard tire is fine for most AWD and RWD applications and patrol scenarios. However, when the Charger is pushed hard—like MSP and LASD vehicle testing—the new, wider tire performs much better, especially on the AWD Chargers.

The wider 245-series tires, of course, perform much better than the smaller 225-series tires on all the Charger Pursuits. As such, it is optional on all Charger Pursuits: AWD, V6 RWD and V8 RWD. It is also a smart choice for anyone running a mix of a Ford Police Interceptor Explorer and Dodge Charger Pursuit. They all now take exactly the same tire.

For 2014, the factory option of the Firestone Firehawk Pursuit has been deleted. Due to plant complexity and a low take rate, they simply cannot have two makes of the same 225-series tire. This is especially since they added a 245-series tire for the AWD.

In April 2014, a full size spare will become standard on all Charger Pursuits – V6, V8, AWD, and Street Appearance. The compact, space-saver, mini-spare is too small to fit over the large diameter BR9 brakes.

 

Other Changes for 2014

The big exterior change for 2014 is to the rear fascia and exhaust tips. The chrome surround–chrome exhaust tips are gone. In its place are slightly extended tailpipes with slight down turns at the ends. On some median entries and exits, depending on the median depth and width and vehicle approach or departure angle, the chrome tips could catch on the grassy median and literally pull the entire rear fascia off.

For 2014, the electric fuel pump has been upgraded on the Charger Pursuit. This was a running change that began in February 2013. The new pump is from the Flex Fuel, Export and SRT line. In this pump, a copper commutator replaced a carbon commutator. The change is expected to increase fuel pump life by 250 percent.

For 2014, the Charger Pursuit has a variable displacement A/C compressor. The result is a slight improvement in fuel economy. These variable compressors are not interchangeable with the older fixed displacement units. In mid-model year 2014, the Charger Pursuit will have a change to the front seat backs. A zipper closure will be added and a steel seat back insert will be available from Mopar Parts.

 

Durango and RAM

Both the Durango and RAM 1500 are available as a Special Service Vehicle package. In both vehicles, the SSV package is more than simply de-contenting a retail vehicle. Heavy-duty cooling is added, as are heavy-duty battery and alternator. For 2014, the Durango SSV will get quartz halogen headlights, an 8-speed trans with both the V6 and V8, LED “racetrack” taillights, and a 7-inch touchscreen.

Of course, Dodge Fleet is frequently asked, when will a police package, a pursuit-capable package be available on the RAM? On the Durango? Dodge is not commenting at all. However, they are paying attention to the trends to more police use of SUVs and more police use of pickups. They see the popularity of the Tahoe PPV, even though it is only 2WD. They know the second best-selling police vehicle, behind only the Charger, is the Ford PI Explorer. Dodge Fleet is keeping their cards close to their chest about IF or WHEN a police package will be available for either vehicle.


Published in Police Fleet Manager, Jan/Feb 2014

Rating : 9.0


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