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Chevy Caprice PPV: A lot of time in-service

The all-new 2011 police package Chevrolet Caprice comes in two forms—the 9C1 Patrol package and the 9C3 Detective package.

The first of these large Caprice sedans to hit the streets have the Detective package, which is also known as the Admin package (aka Street Appearance package).

An important difference exists between the Detective and the Patrol versions. The 9C3 Detective (street appearance) package has a retail center console. This includes a wide, dual-gate, center-mounted, floor shifter. The center console also includes a hand-operated parking brake lever, power window controls, power mirror controls and twin cup holders. However, the 9C1 Patrol package has a narrow, single gate, offset, floor shifter. This gear selector has been moved both forward toward the dash and left toward the driver. That leaves room beside and behind the floor shifter for a full array of communication and emergency gear, including radios, light and siren controls, radar controls, etc.

On the Patrol version, the parking brake hand lever has been replaced by a foot-activated lever. The brake mechanism in the console has been laid on its side and connected to the foot pedal by cables. The power mirror, power window and power door lock controls have been relocated off the console; the cup holders have been deleted—all to make room for the police-specific, aftermarket center console.

During two different 10-day periods, we put 1,000 miles on both a Caprice 9C3 Detective and Caprice 9C1 Patrol. We used these as an unmarked traffic enforcement unit on a busy Memorial Day holiday weekend and Labor Day weekend, respectively, and then used each as an admin unit in urban, suburban, rural and interstate driving.

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 and keep him 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.

With the 9C3 Street Appearance center console, access to the seat belt receptacle while wearing a duty gun is a challenge, both to fasten it and to release it. On the other hand, the upcoming 9C1 Patrol version of the Caprice has a 10-inch width between the seats to mount equipment to the center platform.

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.

The trunk is massive—both wide and long. The available space, the volume above the flat load floor, measures 17.4 cubic feet. A full-size spare is below the load floor and not part of the trunk volume calculation.

Repair and Service Parts

GM Fleet knows that Aussie-made repair, replacement and service parts need to be immediately available — and not on a slow boat from Down Under. Based on producing police cars since 1955, GM Fleet has identified more than 200 critical police parts of the ones made in New South Wales. And they put these parts, including body panels, in inventory in the States.

However, many parts in the new Caprice are made in North America and shared in common with other GM vehicles. The six-speed trans and many Zeta-platform driveline and suspension components are shared with the Camaro. The 6.0L V8 comes from the Silverado pickup trucks. The future 3.6L V6 is currently used by the Camaro and Cadillac.
For ease and speed of collision repair with the Caprice unibody, the new sedan uses a “flexible front end module.” This is different from the old-style welded upper cross-members, beams and support brackets. Instead, the new Caprice uses a “bolt-on, bolt-off” front end module that saves total repair costs – less cutting, welding and painting to fix a damaged front end.

V8-Only for 2011

The 2011 Caprice sedans, all variations of 9C3 Detective and 9C1 Patrol, are powered by the 355 hp, 6.0L V8. This Corvette “LS2” powerhouse is the only engine available. For the 2012 model year; starting in December 2011, both versions of the police Caprice will come standard with the 301 hp, 3.6L V6.

The 6.0L V8 will be an option in 2012. The 6.0L V8 has Active Fuel Management, GM’s version of cylinder deactivation. Under light throttle, the engine controller shuts off the lifters in four cylinders, giving the 6.0L V8 the fuel economy of a 3.0L V4.

Fuel Economy

During two different 10-day periods, we put 1,000 miles on each version of the Caprice PPV. In a combination of suburban calls-for-service, rural traffic enforcement with normal patrol idling, we averaged between 16.7 mpg and 17.8 mpg. We didn’t really drive the sedans very hard, except for heavy throttle and high speeds to overtake 30-Over speeders.

As such, it is very unlikely that you will ever get better mileage than the 16.7 mpg to 17.8 mpg bracket. This gas mileage could be lower, of course, depending on idle time. Don’t expect it to ever be more than 19.1 mpg, regardless of how it is used, even steady cruise on the interstate.

Based on the MSP and the LASD vehicle tests, these are the 2011 Chevy Caprice 6.0L V8, the 2011 Dodge Charger 5.7L HEMI® V8 and the 2013 Ford Sedan PI 3.5L twin-turbo V6. These cars differ greatly in overall size and roominess, but the overall performance is the same – same acceleration, same braking, same road racing course lap times, same top speeds.

The differences between these three sedans are interior space…and bid price. How much room do you need in the front seat, back seat or trunk? The Caprice is as big as the Ford CVPI and clearly larger than the other two NextGen sedans. Expect bid prices to be about $2,000 above the other base-engine, NextGen sedans. And what you get is a truly big police sedan.

Published in Law and Order, Nov 2011

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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