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Chrysler Fleet Preview

Written by Police Fleet Manager Staff

For 2014, Chrysler Group has adopted a program of numerous, regional fleet previews instead of one large fleet preview. The goal of the regional events is to involve as many fleet customers as possible. By hosting 25 local-regional events in 22 different states, more fleet customers will be able to review the vehicles than a single annual fleet preview.

These regional events ran from mid-May to late-June and from Seattle to Orlando, Anaheim to Boston, and Minneapolis to Houston. The focus of these regional events was a hands-on, product walk-around. It was the Chrysler 200 sedan versus the Ford Fusion; the Jeep Cherokee crossover versus the Ford Escape; and the RAM ProMaster van versus Ford Transit. All the vehicles were on static display for tire kicking and door slamming. The dimensions and specs for all the vehicles were posted for a walk-around, competitive comparison.

In addition to the static display, a number of Dodge, Chrysler, RAM and Jeep vehicles were available for a Ride & Drive. These included the RAM 1500 Diesel; Ram 2500 (5.7L and 6.4L); ProMaster; Cherokee; Chrysler 200 (I-4 and V6); Durango and Charger AWD.

 

Dodge Charger Pursuit

Chrysler Fleet Operations continued their annual Ride & Drive events in 2014. These events gave police officers and fleet managers the chance to drive the Dodge Charger Pursuit, RAM 1500 Special Service and Dodge Durango Special Service in real-world simulations.

Locations included the Idaho POST Academy Driving Track in Meridian; the Emergency Vehicle Operation Course at Camp Riley, Minneapolis; the Autobahn Country Club outside Chicago; the Mass State Police EVOC center outside Boston; and the Daytona International Speedway in Florida.

As a rule, all three vehicles were driven on a precision maneuvers course. This low-speed event challenged both nimbleness and visibility. The courses allowed for some acceleration and braking, but the real emphasis was precise vehicle positioning during emergency evasive drills. Many were surprised how well the RAM 1500 was able to weave through the course.

Each of the locations also had a wide-open, high-speed, road racing module. Since the AWD version of the Charger Pursuit was new for mid-2014, that was the chase car during most events. The 5.7L HEMI Charger Pursuit AWD was pitted against fleeing 6.4L HEMI Charger SRT8. Many were impressed at how well the Pursuit AWD was able to keep pace with the SRT8.

 

Police Fleet Expo

One sure-fire way to keep informed of the latest from all three police vehicle makers is to attend the Police Fleet Expo. This is especially the case if you don’t attend one of the automaker fleet previews or driving events.

At the recent Police Fleet Expo in Kansas City, attendees heard that the Dodge Charger is a 3-time IIHS Top Safety Pick, and that the column-mounted shifter has been redesigned. For 2014, the seat belt receptacles have been extended to clear the duty holster. The rear fascia has been modified and the chrome exhaust tips deleted to reduce damage from aggressive median crossings.

For 2014, Secure Park, an anti-theft while idling device, is now standard on the Charger Pursuit. Secure Park uses the Brake Transmission Switch Interlock to prevent the transmission from shifting out of Park when a FOB is not detected.

Most of the Police Fleet Expos have a Ride & Drive following the Manufacturer’s Dialogue on new and upcoming products. At the Kansas City PFE, the 5.7L Charger Pursuit AWD was the star of the Pentastar camp, especially since it rained the whole day at the track!

 

All-Wheel Drive

The biggest Charger Pursuit news since the 2011 redesign is the availability of All-Wheel Drive on the 5.7L V8 sedans. For complete coverage of the basic Borg-Warner AWD system and how it works, see the article on the Charger R/T AWD from the Sept-Oct 2013 issue of Police Fleet Manager. Go to www.hendonpub.com, click Resources, then click Article Archives, keyword: All-Wheel Drive Charger.

Very few changes were made from the retail Charger R/T AWD to the police-package Charger Pursuit AWD. In fact, the hardware (driveline and chassis components) is nearly all the same. However, quite a bit of software tuning was done: when the AWD kicks in, how long it stays engaged, when it reverts back to RWD. This includes some trigger events not related to the retail engagement commands and situations.

AWD is not just for improved traction on snowy roads. The record-setting run on the dry Grattan road course proved that. Most importantly, there is zero learning curve with AWD and zero driver training needed specific to the AWD. AWD is RWD without the drama.

Due to the offset required for the AWD system, the AWD Charger Pursuit will use different steel wheels than the RWD Charger Pursuit. This wheel change, this new wheel, only affects the AWD Charger. The 5-spoke steel wheel on the RWD Charger remains unchanged.

The unique, 16-spoke AWD steel wheel is both visually and physically very different from the 5-spoke RWD steel wheel. Due to the offset needed for the AWD components, the two different wheels are not interchangeable between RWD and AWD Chargers.

The service intervals for the police AWD unit are exactly the same as for the retail cars: change the transfer case oil every 50,000 miles. Fuel economy? Just like the retail Chargers, expect 1-mpg less mileage.

 

Big Brakes

As a running change in the mid-2014 model year, all Charger Pursuits (V6, V8, AWD and Street Appearance) got massive, record-setting, front brakes, the BR9 Brake Package. The Dodge Fleet goal was to absolutely slam-dunk any lingering issues with braking performance or pad/rotor life by designing the biggest police package brakes ever offered on any make of police sedan.

The improved brake package will use 7 percent larger and 15 percent thicker front rotors—this is an increase in rotor diameter from 13.6 inches to 14.6 inches. The shape of the pads has also changed—the front pads are much taller and the rear pads are much longer. The result is a 40 percent increase in the total pad for the front, where most of the braking force occurs, and an 18 percent increase in the rear pad area.

The thickness of the semi-metallic front pads has also increased. Dodge Fleet has designed the larger brakes and the new friction materials to greatly increase the front pad life. Akebono brake lining (friction materials) replaces Performance Friction lining.

One of the main advantages of the Big Brake system is the change from aluminum to cast iron calipers on both the front and rear. Cast iron acts as a heat-sink and wicks heat away from the brake pads and caliper pistons better than aluminum. The sheer mass of the caliper has also been increased. The improved brake package lowers the operating temperatures of the caliper, rotor and pad. Since the car is generally less taxing on larger brakes, the pad and rotor life will increase.

At the Michigan State Police vehicle tests, the BR9 “Big Brake” equipped Charger Pursuit achieved the best stopping performance. The Charger Pursuit also turned in the fastest time for any police sedan. The Charger Pursuit also got the highest rating on overall vehicle ergonomics—the mobile office.

 

Chelsea Proving Grounds

Chrysler Group hosted a Test & Evaluate day for the automotive media at their world-famous Chelsea Proving Grounds. The top speed, acceleration and braking tests conducted annually by the Michigan State Police are done at Chelsea.

In addition to a wide variety of vehicles to test, Chrysler Group executives from all six marques, marketing, engineering and design teams were also on-site to answer questions and accept feedback.

The entire lineup from Chrysler Group was fueled and ready to go: Dodge, RAM, Chrysler, Jeep, FIAT and Alfa Romeo. At the Chelsea Proving Grounds, the drive opportunities included the Evaluation & Handling Loop; Ride Road; Vehicle Dynamics Facility Autocross; and the Lyman Off-Road Trail. Hours were spent in a Charger, Dart, Durango and RAM 1500 on the various courses.

 

Restyled Charger

The 2015 Charger was restyled for 2015. It has a Dart-like front and unique rear fascia, but the rest of the body, trunk and chassis are unchanged. Upfit gear from the 2011-2014 Charger will directly fit the 2015 Charger.

The Charger is the highest-selling police package sedan, an excellent choice for both general patrol and traffic enforcement. The AWD Charger V8 may just be the ultimate police sedan—it has the best overall compromise of interior room, fuel economy, high overall performance, and all-weather capability.


Published in Police Fleet Manager, Jul/Aug 2014

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