evaluation leads to a two-vehicle mixed fleet."
Sheriff Patrol Vehicle Evaluations
By: Brad Hoch and Joe Page
2011, Ford rolled out the last of their Crown Victoria Police Interceptors, the
flagship for most law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and
Canada. For the Sedgwick County, Kan. Sheriff’s Office, the Ford Crown Victoria had been the
one and only vehicle used in patrol since 1994.
Sedgwick County is located in south central Kansas
being the principal city. Sedgwick
County encompasses 998
square miles and a population of 503,000. The sheriff’s office has 538
employees and runs a fleet of 80 marked patrol vehicles.
many other agencies, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office was faced with the
unknown as to what vehicle would replace the Ford Crown Victoria. The three different
police automakers had been working hard at producing a vehicle that would suit
the needs and demands for current law enforcement. The Sedgwick County
Sheriff’s Office made the decision to purchase and test the different 2012 makes
goal for the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office was to test the new vehicles over
a number of months in the real environment that they would be used in patrol.
The testing and evaluation of the patrol vehicles took place on many different
fronts. A group of deputies were selected to test and evaluate the performance
of each vehicle while performing their duties in patrol. The new patrol
vehicles were driven on the EVOC course at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training
equipment was purchased and installed in the vehicles. The equipment was also
evaluated. The Sedgwick County Fleet provided input on the installation process
of the new equipment. The goal was to provide comprehensive information that
would help the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office choose which vehicle/vehicles
would work best for patrol.
were five different makes and models of vehicles tested over a period of about
five months. The specifications and statistics in this section were obtained
from the Michigan State Police website. Along with the Los Angeles County
Sheriff, the Michigan State Police’s Police Patrol Vehicle Evaluation and
Purchasing Program is one of the two most significant patrol vehicle test
MSP publishes a yearly report evaluating the numerous makes and models of
patrol vehicles on the market. The estimated total cost of the vehicles came
from Sedgwick County Fleet. These costs were a combination of both the initial
price of the police vehicle and the price of aftermarket accessories used to upfit
Chevrolet Caprice 9C1
Caprice was a brand-new vehicle design, produced exclusively for law enforcement.
In fact, the 2012 Caprice was only sold to law enforcement agencies in the United States. The rear-wheel drive car was based on
the similar design of the previous Pontiac G8. The vehicle was produced in Australia by Holden, GM’s subsidiary company. The
vehicle was assembled in Australia and then shipped to the United States.
The Caprice was
powered by a 355 hp, 6.0L V8 with a 6-speed auto. The RWD sedan hits 60 mph in
5.9 seconds, has a top speed of 154 mph, and a ground clearance of 5.6 inches.
It has an EPA rating of 15 mpg City/24 mpg Hwy. The estimated upfitted price
was $27, 695.
Chevrolet Tahoe PPV
two-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, pursuit-rated Chevy Tahoe has been around
for a number of years and has become a very popular vehicle among law
enforcement agencies. The Tahoe has the most interior room of all the vehicles
tested. It is the only pursuit rated vehicle that is a body-on-frame design.
The Tahoe was
powered by a 320 hp, 5.3L V8 with a 6-speed auto. The 2WD / RWD utility hits 60
mph in 8.0 seconds, has a top speed of 139 mph, and a ground clearance of 8.0
inches. It has an EPA rating of 15 mpg City/21 mpg Hwy. The estimated upfitted price
the Tahoe, the Dodge Charger has been used by law enforcement for a number of
years. In 2011, there were a number of improvements made to the Charger, which
included fixing noted blind spots from previous models, better suspension,
improved brakes, engine improvements, and new steel wheels.
Charger was powered by a 370 hp, 5.7L V8 with a 5-speed auto. The RWD sedan
hits 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, has a top speed of 152 mph, and a ground clearance
of 5.2 inches. It has an EPA rating of 16 mpg City/25 mpg Hwy. The estimated upfitted
price was $26,563.
Ford Police Interceptor Sedan
of Ford’s answers to replace the Crown Victoria was the 2012 Ford Interceptor.
This is a brand-new vehicle with the body design and platform based on the retail
Taurus. However, this is not a retail Taurus. Instead, the vehicle was designed
with law enforcement in mind, including all-wheel drive, high-output
alternator, and 75 mph rear-crash test rating.
PI Sedan we tested was powered by a 365 hp, 3.5L EcoBoost twin turbo V6 with a
6-speed auto. The AWD sedan hits 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, has a top speed of 148
mph, and a ground clearance of 5.3 inches. It has an EPA rating of 16 mpg City/22
mpg Hwy. The estimated upfitted price was $27, 886.
Ford Police Interceptor Utility
stopping at just the sedan option, Ford came up with another option for law
enforcement, the Police Interceptor Utility, based on the brand-new Ford
Explorer body style. The biggest
advantage with the utility-crossover vehicle is the larger back cargo area and
higher ground clearance than a car.
The PI Utility
was powered by a 304 hp, 3.7L V6 with a 6-speed auto. The FWD crossover hits 60
mph in 8.0 seconds, has a top speed of 131 mph, and a ground clearance of 6.5
inches. It has an EPA rating of 16 mpg City/22 mpg Hwy. The estimated upfitted
price was $26,607.
goal during the evaluation process was to determine which vehicle/vehicles,
plus equipment would work best for the demands and challenges on patrol in Sedgwick County. A number of organizations
and agencies have published performance results and specifications on each of
the new vehicles.
Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office wanted to expand that process and test the
vehicles as they would be used in a patrol setting over a long period of time. The
testing of the vehicles would encompass the following variables: day, night,
dirt roads, rain, snow, ice, riding squad, transporting prisoners, and driving
the vehicles on the EVOC course at KLETC.
our agency it was important to select a group of deputies that would test the
vehicles on a daily basis for a number of months. A group of deputies from all
three shifts were selected from patrol. The test group was comprised of
deputies whose time on the department ranged from 4 to 16 years. One of the
deputies was an EVOC instructor. The deputy’s physical size was also taken into
consideration. For example, the height of the test group ranged from 5-foot, 4
inches to 6-foot, 4 inches.
were five main deputies selected for the test group along with two alternates. Starting
in August 2012, the first test vehicle was set up and the evaluation process
began. Eventually each make and model was tested until the end of December
2012. During the evaluation process, the test group rotated through the
deputy spent several weeks in one particular model before rotating to another
vehicle. The alternates were given the opportunity to drive the new vehicles
when the main five were on days off or gone for an extended period of time.
During the evaluation process, between 6,000 and 11,000 miles were put on each
evaluation form was developed to document the thoughts of the deputies and rate
each vehicle and the equipment installed in them. The evaluation form consisted
of several categories including performance, ergonomics and equipment. Each one
of those categories was broken down with specific areas the deputies had to
address and score including steering, traction, braking, seat comfort,
visibility, trunk space, etc.
scoring of each category was set as the following: 1) Poor, 2) Fair, 3) Good
and 4) Excellent. The deputies filled out an evaluation after they completed
the rotation in each vehicle. At the end
of the testing phase, the scoring of each vehicle was recorded. Each deputy
wrote a narrative report summarizing his/her evaluation input.
Caprice Pros and
The Pros of the Caprice include
acceleration and handling. The Caprice was very impressive. From the Michigan
State data, the Caprice had the highest top end speed at 154 mph. The rear-wheel
drive and traction control made the Caprice a very maneuverable vehicle in everything
from pursuit driving to inclement weather. The interior room was the largest
among the cars tested.
Cons include delivery time. Since the Caprice is made in Australia, it took
nearly six months from the time it was ordered until the time it arrived in
Sedgwick County. Even though the maneuverability is very impressive, the actual
ride is stiff and noisy. When the police equipment was installed in the vehicle,
there was a noticeable amount of rattling and shaking of the equipment. The
test group thought the trunk felt very small inside.
The transmission hump in the middle of
the car sat up so high that the dual gun mounts our agency had from the Crown
Victoria would not fit in the vehicle. Out of all the vehicles, the Caprice was
the only vehicle this occurred in. The test group did not like the floor
shifter. (Ed. Note: A column shifter is
standard on the 2014 Caprice.) Besides its awkward location, the gears
shift was loose and moved too freely. It was also difficult to recognize the
selected gears. The Caprice V8 has poor gas mileage. Many times the data showed
the Caprice would make between 9 and 14 mpg.
Tahoe Pros and
The biggest advantage the Tahoe has over
the other vehicles is the amount of interior room. The cargo area is very large
with plenty of room. The spare tire is mounted under the frame so one can
easily put a trunk tray in the back. Even though the Tahoe is only RWD, it has
the highest ground clearance of all the vehicles tested. The pursuit-rated
Tahoe performed surprisingly well on the streets and on the EVOC course. For
the size of the vehicle, the test group noted it handled as well or better than
the Crown Victoria.
The test group noted because of size and
the ability to sit up high, running in the emergency mode probably worked the
best in the Tahoe. Motorists seemed to move over or out of the way sooner than
in a patrol car. The deputies felt sitting up higher gave them the advantage to
see farther down the road and around intersections than in a car.
If the officer needs to haul a lot of
equipment or squad up on a regular basis, the Tahoe provides the versatility to
meet those demands better than any of the other vehicles tested. The Tahoe had
the lowest price among all the vehicles tested.
Cons include lower performance. Due to the sheer size and weight of the Tahoe,
the acceleration is not as impressive as the cars. Despite this, the
acceleration was better than the Crown Victoria. A number of deputies in the
test group were able to get into pursuits with the Tahoe. Some noted that not
only was acceleration a little slower than the other test cars, but there was
some brake fading, which they did not experience in the cars. Since the Tahoe
is a SUV, a second cage has to be purchased to divide the back seat from the
Charger Pros and
The Dodge Charger acceleration and
handling were very impressive. The Dodge Charger 5.7L Hemi V8 developed the
highest amount of power at 370 hp. The rear-wheel drive and traction control
made the Charger a very maneuverable vehicle in everything from pursuit driving
to inclement weather.
The fit and finish along with the
quality of ride were at the top of the field. The interior room was the second largest
among the cars tested. A circulating fan from the factory was installed in the
trunk area to keep radios and data components cool in the summer.
Sedgwick County Fleet noted the Charger
was the easiest vehicle to set up among the test vehicles. The Dodge Charger
was the least expensive sedan tested. The appearance of the vehicle was voted
as the best-looking vehicle among the test group.
Cons include the lowest ground clearance among all the vehicles tested at 5.2
inches. A number of deputies in the test group were able to get in pursuits with
the Charger and a few of those pursuits left the paved road and went through
ditches and fields. Even though there was no damage to the car, the deputies
noted they could hear and feel the bottom of the car hitting the ground at
Ford PI Sedan Pros
The AWD made the Ford Sedan one of the
best-handling vehicles out of the group. On dirt roads, snow and ice the
vehicle had amazing traction. The EcoBoost 3.5L EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 engine
made the Ford Sedan one of the quickest vehicles especially from 0-60 mph.
Cons include interior room. The Ford PI Sedan by far had the smallest interior
of all the vehicles tested. The deputies 6 feet or taller complained about head
room and problems getting in and out of the vehicle. The side pillar of the car
on the inside was scraped up because of the deputy’s duty belts hitting all the
time. Having a passenger in the car with the MCT was virtually impossible due
to the lack of room.
trunk space was also very small. Due to the high design of the trunk area of
the car, backing was a challenge because of poor visibility. In the summertime,
the trunk area of the car reached over 150 degrees and caused the radio and
data components to shut down. Unlike the Charger, there was no circulating fan
in the trunk area.
For PI Utility
Pros and Cons
The Ford Utility Vehicle had better
front interior room compared to the cars. The cargo area had the advantage to
store more than in the trunk of the cars tested. The FWD worked well in the
snow and ice. The PI Utility has nice ground clearance for off-road or bad weather
The SUV’s maneuverability and handling
was almost equal to the patrol cars. On the EVOC course, the Ford PI Utility
was pushed just as hard as the cars and it performed very well.
As a Con, the Ford PI Utility our agency
tested was FWD instead of AWD. (Ed. Note:
For 2014, AWD is standard on the PI Utility.) We would assume the AWD would
be as impressive as it was on the Ford PI Sedan. The FWD-only drivetrain made
the vehicle awkward and difficult to handle because of the noticeable
torque-steer under heavy acceleration.
Even though the cargo area gave ample
amount of room, the design of placing the spare tire in the bottom of the cargo
area would cause the officer to unload every piece of equipment to get the
spare tire out. Placing a cargo trunk tray in the back of the PI Utility would
not be practical because of the spare tire compartment design.
Since the vehicle is an SUV, a second
cage has to be purchased to divide the back seat from the cargo area. The test
group thought the foot well design was awkward and caused them to trip at times
trying to get in and out of the vehicle. The back seat area was small,
especially when a full cage was installed in the vehicle.
The Ford PI Utility was the slowest of
the vehicles tested. The EcoBoost 3.5 liter twin-turbo engine was not offered
in the Utility Vehicle at the time of our testing. (Ed. Note: the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 is an option on the 2014 PI Utility.)
all the meetings and review of the data, the test group recommended a mixed
fleet for our agency. Two vehicles were recommended, the Dodge Charger and the
Chevy Tahoe. It was obvious that having ample amount of interior room was very
important to the deputies. The Chevy Tahoe met that need. The Chevy Tahoe was
viewed as a very versatile patrol vehicle.
only concern of the group was the fact that the Tahoe was not quite as
maneuverable and quick as the patrol cars. The group discussed that the general
public has access to a number of passenger cars that could easily outperform
the Tahoe. That is why the group recommends having a mixed fleet with both the
Dodge Charger and Chevy Tahoe. The Charger with its high-performance engine and
suspension would help fill that void. At the same time, the size of the Charger
and interior room was acceptable for a car.
reason for the mixed fleet is the fact that even though the testing of these two
vehicles was conducted over a five-month period, the longevity and reliability
of these vehicles is still in question. Picking a single vehicle could be very
costly if the reliability of the vehicle becomes a problem over several
Brad Hoch is a Lieutenant with the
Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Joe
Page is a Deputy with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office and may be reached
at email@example.com. The evaluation team included Lt. Brad Hoch, Deputy Joel
Blogref, Deputy Jason Burley, Deputy Jeremy Jameson, Deputy Ken Kooser, Deputy
Scott Louthan, Deputy Shawn McMahon, and Deputy Noah Stephens-Clark.
Chevrolet Caprice 6.0L V8 RWD