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Police Lane: Bang for the Buck

You can use the Michigan State Police tests to help you objectively pick the “best police vehicle for the buck.” That is what got the MSP testing started in the first place. The MSP ranks all the police package vehicles in terms of acceleration, top speed, braking, fuel economy, ergonomics / officer space and overall handling.

You can select the weight given to each of these areas — give them your own priority — and just run the numbers with the equation posted online. If you give the maximum weight to acceleration, top speed and high speed handling, you will come up with one “weighted average” winner. If you give the maximum weight to ergonomics / room, fuel economy and braking, you will come up with a very different “best” vehicle. Go to

On the same topic, would you give up 2 seconds of zero to 60 mph acceleration to gain a full 2 mpg in actual police use? As a rule, the police sedans with the base, 290 to 300 hp V6 get to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds and average 18.3 mpg using the LASD “street drive” protocol. The police sedans with the 350 to 370 hp V8 or turbo V6 get to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds and average 16.1 mpg.

As you think about the question, consider that all of the NextGen sedans, regardless of V6 or V8 engine, equal or exceed the acceleration of the outgoing Ford CVPI. If you want to greatly improve the fuel economy of your fleet, while besting the Ford CVPI performance, think V6. One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. And a 2 mpg increase.

On a related topic, think about what you carry in the trunk. Sure, the trend is to carry so much police gear that the smaller trunk on some NextGen police sedans just won’t hold it all. That has lots of us thinking police crossover (Ford PI Utility) or police SUV (Chevy Tahoe). So this tip from the Police Fleet Expo will come as a real shock: Make a real effort to carry the least possible weight in the trunk. That is not the trend, but the benefits are real.

First, better fuel economy. For every 200 pounds you take out of the trunk (or anywhere in the vehicle), you can save ½ mpg City. This is especially relevant for the crossovers and SUVs that don’t get such great mileage anyhow. But it also holds true for all the police sedans and that specifically includes the current Ford CVPI still in service. Either take 200 pounds out, or resist putting it in. The result is a legit mileage gain.

Second, better performance. The vehicle accelerates faster, brakes harder, and handles better with less total weight. This is especially true for weight in the trunk or rear cargo and handling. You are less likely to engage the electronic stability control due to a weight-induced tail wag that the system thinks is oversteer. When that weight reduction comes from the trunk, the vehicle will be much more responsive in accident avoidance maneuvers and evasive emergency lane changes.

The weighted-down vehicle obviously won’t accelerate as fast, or have the same top speed, as reported by the Los Angeles County Sheriff and Michigan State Police, even if you keep the vehicle a slick top. Less weight means better performance. Third, whatever is in the trunk will be more accessible. Not only will you have a better idea of what is — and is not — in the trunk, you will be able to get to it easier.

Finally, if you are careful and rational about what is NEEDED in the trunk, instead of what is WANTED in the trunk, there is another bonus. Your selection of NextGen police vehicles will be wider. Instead of being forced into a crossover or SUV, and taking another fuel economy hit, you can get by with any of the sedans…even the ones with the smallish trunks. Of course, the sedans have a lower initial cost, perform better, and get better gas mileage.

Do an objective reality check on what you put in the trunk. A true and honest needs assessment will show you immediately if you can use a sedan or if you need a crossover / SUV. And that will prepare you for the questions you know are coming.


The following text was omitted at the end of the Ford Police Advisory Board (PAB) article from July/Aug 2012 PFM.

Wig-Wag Solutions

Separate from the Mod Center, Ford offers “factory” upfitting services and products. Crown North America is a Quality Vehicle Modifier (QVM) process-certified upfitter. Crown NA is an optional “ship thru” allowing more choice and faster turn-around. 

Ford’s NextGen Police Interceptors use high-tech projector-type headlamps that cannot be wig-wag flashed. The solution is to add front-facing white LEDs, which can be flashed. Of course, LEDs may simply be bolted to the center of the grille or the push bumper. However, Ford has a better idea.

The headlight bezels on both the PI Sedan and PI Utility may be ordered in two ways. One is pre-dilled to accept forward LEDs and side-intersection LEDs. Or the vehicle can be ordered with these lights and the wiring already installed. The forward-facing LED is also a highly specialized, proprietary light. These wig-wags were developed by Ford specifically to be seen even though the nearby headlights are illuminated at night.

Other upfitting solutions from Crown NA include full wiring harnesses, siren and controllers, push bumpers and prisoner partitions. Of course, Crown NA also installs center consoles and external lightbars.

The current CA Title 13 spec for the siren output is met by a single 100-watt driver mounted between the front fascia and inner fender. A few departments are upfitting dual, 100-watt drivers or upfitting an additional low-frequency siren. Unfortunately, this same space on the other side of the Sedan PI is taken up by the washer fluid bottle. Even though the underhood is very crowded, do not be tempted to mount a second siren in front of the radiator or coolers. A push bumper may be the best option to mount the second or both siren speakers.

For upfitters, the entire Modifier’s Guide is online. No print version will be produced. The Modifier’s Guide is 300 pages and 20 megs’ worth of information in five PDFs. The Guide is on the public side of, click Showroom and then click Police Vehicles. Literally everything an upfitter needs to know is in the Guide. Ford invented such manuals and theirs remains the best in the industry. The 2013 Modifier’s Guide has twice the content as the guide prepared for the CVPI.


The following is a clarification on the Charger Pursuit Steel Wheel Interchangeability from July/Aug 2012 PFM:

For 2012, the Charger Pursuit comes with very different steel wheels. These are a bit heavier and much stronger than the earlier generation wheels. The new wheels have thicker ribs (spokes) to pass the tougher Pursuit specific durability cycle. The new wheel is interchangeable with older generation wheels, as is the center cap.  Previous generation wheel covers will not fit the new wheels, but the new cover will fit both.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Sep/Oct 2012

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