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Most Bang For the Buck

"You spec your own winner."

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 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.

Published in Law and Order, Nov 2012

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