police automaker knows the key to sales is getting officers behind the wheel of
their police and special service vehicles. Some automakers conducted regional Ride
& Drive events with early production models and then let their local
dealers take over via a demo fleet. This works.
however, has continued to host regional Ride & Drives long after their
police vehicles hit the streets. There was always a good, meet-the-competition
reason to keep the Ride & Drives going: new model introduction, competitive
vehicles going and coming, and introduction of new and upgraded features.
conjunction with Petty Enterprises and piggybacking on the SRT Driving
Experience, Chrysler runs six to eight police Ride & Drives a year. These
are all regional events: Texas Motor Speedway (Fort Worth); Autobahn Country Club
(Joliet, IL); Michigan International Speedway (Brooklyn); Daytona International
Speedway (FL); Auto Club Speedway (Fontana, CA); NOLA Motorsports Park
(Avondale, LA); Englishtown Raceway Park (NJ); and Pittsburgh International
Race Complex (PA).
exact driving courses and the exact vehicles available to drive vary from event
to event. The 3.6L V6 Charger Pursuit and the 5.7L V8 Charger Pursuit are at
all the events. Many of the events also include the RAM 1500 4x4 SSV and the
Durango SSV. Even when the RAM and Durango
are not driven on the high-speed pursuit courses, fully upfitted versions are
still on static display.
the attendees are divided into four groups. One group takes the V6 and V8
Chargers out on the high-speed racetrack. Another group heads out to a
low-speed, precision driving course. Yet another group drives the RAM and Durango on a standard
EVOC cone course. Finally, the last group goes to an upfit session.
high-speed road course almost always involves a hound and fox exercise. The fox
(the bad guy) is usually in a 6.4L HEMI Charger SRT or 392 Charger Super Bee.
The hound (the good guy) is in either a 5.7L HEMI V8 Charger Pursuit or a 3.6L
Pentastar V6 Charger Pursuit. When the flag drops, the pursuit is on.
though a 292 hp V6 Charger Pursuit seems a mismatch against a 470 hp V8 Charger
Super Bee, that has always been the case with police cars and some retail cars.
The point is the 292 hp Charger is better able to keep the fox in sight than
the old 250 hp CVPI. Of course, the 370 hp V8 Charger Pursuit always proves to
be the real high-speed answer.
on the high-speed courses generally reach 90 mph. For example, the event at Chicagoland’s
Autobahn Country Club was conducted on the North Circuit of the track. This is
a nine-turn, 1.5-mile road course with a 1,240-foot straightaway, which is nearly
emphasize hard braking from high speeds, many straights (including that on the
North Circuit) end with either a sharp, tight 90-degree turn, or even worse, a
180-degree U-turn. Of course, hard braking from 100 mph and making an
aggressive U-turn is the very essence of traffic enforcement.
lane changes and accident avoidance drills, high-seed controlled braking,
low-speed brake and turn, and the serpentine (slalom) to test left-right-left
transition steering and weight transfer are all part of the high-speed course.
The immediate turn-in response and minimal body roll are obvious on both the V6
and V8 Chargers.
low-speed precision driving experience is a very tight cone course that
emphasizes everything important in a crowded urban environment. The cone course
requires the officer to back into tight spots. They must know precisely where
the corners of the car are. Ever since 2011, the Charger has had excellent
visibility out the back glass.
outside rear-view mirrors show much more of both blind spots. This also
demonstrates the triple gearshift charge from Drive to Reverse back to Drive.
The new gear shift arc is immediately obvious. It is much more ergonomic.
tight cone course also challenges the forward and side visibility, much like maneuvering
down a tight alley or side street with haphazardly parked cars. Again, the
emphasis is the street-wise visibility from the driver’s seat of the Charger.
Special Service Vehicles
of the Ride & Drives include the RAM 1500 SSV and the Durango SSV. Chrysler
wants your feedback on this truck and SUV. Should the RAM or Durango be upgraded from special service
package to pursuit-rated police package? One of them? Both of them? Which one
first? Is the special service package good enough for your use? Tell your
regional sales manager. Or e-mail us and we will pass on the word.
RAM 1500 Special Service is a Crew Cab 4x4 powered by the 395 hp 5.7L HEMI V8
and 6-speed trans. It has a 220-amp alternator, certified speedometer, power
seats with center seat deleteable, column shifter and available RamBox®
lockable cargo management system.
Durango Special Service is available with either the 3.6L Pentastar V6 or 5.7L
HEMI V8 and as either a RWD or 4x4. Both engines use an 8-speed trans. The Durango also has a
220-amp alternator and police-spec engine cooling. Rear HVAC is standard.
RAM and Durango
cone courses are a bit more open, a bit higher speed than the tight precision
driving course designed for the Charger. The idea is to get a feel for the
driving dynamics when pushed hard. As the fleet managers experienced, the RAM
and the Durango
can be very aggressively driven. Both are easy to drive hard.
Mopar Crown Upfit
final phase of the Ride & Drive is an introduction to the complete
“factory-authorized” upfitting from Crown North America. Crown installs a
variety of Mopar-brand upfit components from a plug-n-play wiring harness to a
completely finished (except radio) patrol car. These are some of the most
respected names in law enforcement: Mopar by Setina, Mopar by Whelen and Mopar
by Havis. As a part of the Mopar parts line, these all carry the factory warranty
and are dealer-serviceable.
offers six basic packages, and dozens of individual components, to start or
finish the upfit. The Basic-Police Package has front and rear wiring harness, a
power distribution center, trunk tray and cooling fan and siren speaker and
bracket. Of the five Patrol or Patrol Slick Top Packages, the most complete is
Patrol Package Three. In addition to the Base Police Package are floor console,
front and rear corner LED lights, and push bumper. Exterior lightbars, interior
dash, headliner and deck lights, grille lights and B-pillar lights are also
introduction of the 2006 Charger Pursuit and the 2011 NextGen Charger Pursuit
have kept the regional Ride & Drives a valuable educational tool. And next
year? The introduction of All-Wheel
Drive on the 5.7L Charger Pursuit. Watch for it in