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Time on the Street with the Caprice Patrol Package

Written by Police Fleet Manager Staff

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, AKA Admin package, AKA Street Appearance package. The Caprice 9C3 Detective sedans started shipping from the Benicia, Calif., port of entry to the dealers in May. The Caprice 9C1 Patrol sedans started to ship to dealers in July.

Important differences exist between the Detective and the Patrol versions. Apart from chrome trim and full wheel covers, the Detective (street appearance) package has a retail center console and floor shift. This was the model available first while the upfit-friendly center console was developed and produced for the Patrol package.

The Detective package has 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. These are straight from the retail Holden (GM of Australia) Commodore and Statesman—and from the just discontinued Pontiac G8.

However, the 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 such as 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On the Patrol version, the parking brake hand lever has been replaced by a foot-activated lever.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 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 and the cup holders have been deleted to make room for the police-specific, aftermarket center console.

For a complete review of the overall Caprice PPV, see the September-October issue of Police Fleet Manager, or go online at www.hendonpub.com, and click on Article Archives under the Resources tab. In this review, we only cover the differences between the 9C1 Patrol and 9C3 Detective versions.

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.

 

Console Accepts Upfitting

The use of a floor-shifter in the 9C1 Patrol version, even though it has been moved over and reduced in footprint, remains controversial. It shouldn’t be. Yes, it is a change in tradition. No, it is not an upfitting challenge. Yes, every last piece of emergency and communications equipment will fit in the console, between the seats, between the dash and the partition. 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. 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.

With the Ford CVPI history, 80% of us are forced into change. Most of us are trying to look at all the NextGen police vehicles with an open mind. We are trying to be objective about what it takes to meet our needs knowing that everything is now different.

The prudent chief, sheriff or fleet manager will sit in (or drive) one of the fully-upfitted Caprices before jumping to any conclusions about a floor-shifter in a police car. Who cares where the shifter is mounted as long as we can upfit all the police gear and quickly get it into Park, Drive and Reverse?

The Kerr Industries (factory OE) center console mounting plate bolts rigidly right to the lower console housing. The passenger side of the mounting plate has a 4-bolt flange to attach a computer mount. The computer mount does not use any of the seat mounting bolts. The upfitter should never remove seat mounting hardware on any police vehicle unless they are able to torque those bolts to factory specs in the right tightening sequence. 

 

Battery for Upfitting

Unique to police cars, the new Caprice is available with an optional 600 CCA auxiliary battery. This battery is on a separate charging circuit from the standard 700 CCA mail battery. The intent is to wire all of the upfitted police gear to the auxiliary battery and leave the main battery untouched. No accessory-drained dead batteries. The car will always be able to start!

While the two batteries are separated by an isolator, both are automatically charged by the same 170-amp, idle-boost alternator. Based on the success with the 150-amp, idle-boost alternator in the police Impala and the 160-amp version in the police Tahoe, 170-amps should be enough for the new Caprice.

 

Durability

All of the new Holden (GM Australia) vehicles, beginning with the Caprice PPV, will be built around a 10-year durability cycle. The testing protocols are, of course, proprietary but all the suspension, sub-frame, braking and driveline components must pass testing that equates to 10 years of retail use in a developing country. The Caprice PPV was one of the first vehicles designed to this durability standard.

The Caprice PPV has also had more on-track testing than any other Holden vehicle. And Holden is already a “performance” company. They have the same “we build excitement” reputation in Australia as Pontiac had in the U.S.

 

Extended Drive

During a 10-day period, we put 1,000 miles on a Caprice 9C1 Patrol. We used it as an unmarked traffic enforcement unit on a busy Labor Day holiday weekend, and then used it as an admin unit in urban, suburban, rural and interstate driving.

This Caprice 9C1 Patrol was really no different than the Caprice 9C3 Detective we put 1,000 miles on during Memorial Day traffic enforcement. Same 6.0L V8. Same stunning acceleration, race car handling and strong brakes. Same 16.7 to 17.8 mpg, on the job. Just a different floor-shifter.

The long wheelbase (118.5-inches) of the Caprice makes the high-speed handling more forgiving and less twitchy than a shorter wheelbase sedan. Yet, it is nimble and maneuverable in the city. This long wheelbase is also supposed to improve the ride comfort.

However, the suspension on the Caprice PPV is stiff. At highway speeds, it feels much stiffer than the Ford CVPI and a little stiffer than the Charger Pursuit. Of course, it has to be tightly-sprung for high-speed handling.

The Caprice is extremely fast, and the 6-speed trans gives it immediate throttle response. It does 130 mph in overtaking speeders at the drop of a hammer. For officers used to the Ford CVPI, the performance from the Caprice is shocking.

 

(SIDEBAR 1)

New for 2012 Caprice PPV

 

Production of the 2012 Caprice 9C1 and 9C3 with the optional 6.0L V8 began begin in September 2011 with delivery expected in December. 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.

For 2012, the parameters of this Active Fuel Management on the V8 have been widened. The 4-cylinder mode will activate sooner, under a wider variety of conditions, and remain in V4-mode longer.

For 2012, the 301 hp, 3.6L V6 will be standard. This is the same 3.6L SIDI V6 used in the Camaro and Cadillac. The 3.6L V6 has Double Overhead Cams (DOHC), Spark Ignition Direct Injection (SIDI), Variable Valve Timing (VVT) and is E85 FlexFuel. Production of the standard 3.6L V6 begins in December 2011, which means it will arrive stateside in March 2012 and hit the streets in May 2012.

This 3.6L High Feature V6 has 50 hp more than the 4.6L V8 in the Ford CVPI, but 30lb.-ft. less torque. Teamed with the 6-speed, the 0 to 60 mph performance of the Caprice 3.6L V6 is in the 7 to 7.5 second range. This exceeds the performance of the Ford CVPI 4.6L V8. Producing 301 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, the EPA estimates are 17 mpg City and 26 mpg Highway.

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, which is the same axle used in the Caprice V8. This change had only a slight effect on performance—the V6-powered Caprice is still faster than the V8-powered Ford CVPI.

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 and gets more than 2 mpg better (Combined) fuel economy. Of course, the more time the police Caprice spends idling, the greater the real-world mileage of the 3.6L V6 versus the 6.0L V8.

That said, the 2012 Caprice with either the more economical 301 hp V6 and the more powerful 355 hp V8 are priced the same. Both versions of the Caprice PPV have the same top speed – limited to just over 140 mph. 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.

In 2012, front seat knee airbags will be 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 2012, a front passenger door lock cylinder will be standard, which is a potential officer safety issue. Engine idle and engine hour meters will be standard. An AutonetMobile WiFi in-car router (making an internet hotspot) will be an option. So will a passenger side spotlight. Also for 2012, the trans oil cooler will be relocated from in front of the radiator (behind the grille bowtie) to an inner fender.

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

James Soo, Holden performance engineering manager, and his team found this change made more consistent lap times, and faster lap times. With the new parameters, officers with average driving skills close the gap with drivers with above-average skills. Stability control, in fact, makes officers better drivers.  

 

(SIDEBAR 2)

Bring Back the Old Caprice

 

That is what GM Fleet has heard at every police conference since 1997. In fact, the new Caprice is a modern version of the old Caprice, but better in every way. The 2011 Caprice with the 6.0L V8 has almost 100 hp and more than 50lb.-ft. of torque more than the legendary 1994-1996 Caprice powered by the Corvette’s 5.7L LT-1 V8. It is two seconds faster to 60 mph and an impressive seven seconds faster to 100 mph. And it stops from 60 mph a half-car length shorter.

The front seat volume on the new Caprice is 7% smaller than the old Caprice, but the rear seat volume is 4% larger. The total occupant volume is 4% larger than the Ford CVPI. The combined passenger volume and trunk volume, what the EPA uses to determine vehicle class, is 1% larger than the Ford CVPI. So, the new Caprice is “as big as a Crown Victoria.”

The 6.0L V8 Caprice reaches 100 mph in 14.4 seconds. The 4.6L V8 Ford CVPI takes a slumber-sluggish 24.4 seconds. In comparison, the 6.2L Camaro SS hits 100 mph in 10.7 seconds. Okay, so the 355 hp, 6.0L Caprice is not quite “as fast as a 426 hp, 6.2L Camaro” but it honestly “feels” as fast on an open road racing course. (Recall that the old LT-1 Caprice was as fast around a road course as the police Mustang.)


Published in Police Fleet Manager, Nov/Dec 2011

Rating : Not Yet Rated


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