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The last few years have been a boon for law enforcement agencies as auto manufacturers have brought a legion of new vehicles to the LE marketplace. The selection and level of performance has never been better, and 2015 brings two camps of purchasing choices; an updated evolution of an existing model, or an all-new model in a specific category. Let’s look at the changes for 2015 from the big three.
Ford has taken the last few years to continually tweak both the Interceptor Sedan and Utility by incrementally increasing power and performance through hallmarks like standardized AWD in both models, the availability of the 365 horsepower, EcoBoost 3.5 liter turbocharged engine in the Utility configuration, the establishment of meeting 75 mph rear collision tests and re-programmable switches on the steering wheel to control LE functions, to name a few. Ford has listened to its customers again for 2015 with the most significant change being the addition of a new Special Service Police Model, developed to answer the needs of smaller agencies and departments whose primary concern is full mileage over pursuit performance. Think of it as the Interceptor “light,” for those who don’t want to spend the extra bucks for the full tilt Interceptor, but want most of its essence.
In that light, Ford says the SSP is “non-pursuit” rated not because of what it has, but what it doesn’t have: the AWD system, the larger engine option of a 3.7 liter V6 and the 3.5 liter EcoBoost, a front deflector plate, abeefier engine oil cooler and heavier duty transmission cooler. What it offers instead is the 2-liter I-4 EcoBoost engine rated at 240 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that puts the power to the pavement through a FWD arrangement. The 200 amp alternator is retained, and in keeping with modern aerodynamic tweaks to eke out every last mpg, the SSP comes with standard Active Grille Shutters that manage airflow to optimize the balance between engine cooling and aerodynamics. Other specifics are quasi-dual exhaust with chrome tips, specific SSP badging, 235/55R18 tires and a unique front grille. All told, Ford says that SSP will save an annual average of $1,100 vs. the 3.5 liter FWD Interceptor, and $3,406 over the older Crown Vic, assuming a yearly mileage of 30,000, with some idling thrown in there. So, for agencies that don’t do a lot of pursuits, or have community demographics that don't call for heavy duty LE vehicles, the SSP might be a good option with the caveat being that the car isn’t third-party pursuit rated. Presumably, the cost of the car will also be lower, so that will also help the conversation for fleet buyers who are just fine with reduced performance over its pricier purebred cousin. Otherwise, the Ford fleet remains unchanged for 2015 with the Special Service F150 and Expedition, however, the recently introduced all-new F150 will mean some changes in this area as the year progresses.
While Ford had decades of Crown Vic loyalty to pull from when bringing the Interceptor to market, Chevrolet didn't have such luck when bringing a new car to the party a few years back. So, they had to get creative with the Caprice. Looking back a few years, Chevrolet needed a viable RWD patrol vehicle platform, so when it looked around and saw it really didn't have anything in its U.S. batch that fit the bill, it went all the way to the land down under, Australia. There, it plucked the highest performance 4-door sedan they had on the showroom floor, the Holden Commodore HSV, and brought it back across the pond to make it the "law enforcement only" Caprice. This was a pretty gutsy move because, unlike all other law enforcement vehicles at the time, the Caprice, or a derivative, could not be purchased by the general public. This would change in 2014 with the introduction of the Chevrolet SS, a shorter wheelbase version of the Caprice, but it says a lot about a company that was willing to step outside the normal parameters of where traditional LE vehicles come from, and bring a player to the table that came from the other side of the world.
For 2015, the Caprice and the Impala, which has been around forever, it seems, both remain unchanged with the exception of a rear vision camera added to the Aussie, so the big news is the complete revamping of the Tahoe PPV. We talked about the Tahoe in a previous issue, so here is a summary of notable changes in this all-new bottling of LE driving enjoyment.
According to Chevrolet, the 2015 Tahoe PPV features an all-new interior, exterior and EcoTec3 powertrain while offering the same basic dimensions, a stronger body-on-frame architecture and versatility that has made it the best-selling Chevrolet police vehicle for the last several years. The preservation of the basic dimensions will allow an easy transfer of law enforcement equipment used in current Tahoe PPVs. This is also the first Tahoe that is certified “pursuit rated” in a 4WD configuration.
The new Tahoe PPV’s standard EcoTec3 5.3L V-8 features direct injection, cylinder deactivation, continuously variable valve timing and an advanced combustion system designed to make the most of power, torque and efficiency across a broad range of operating conditions. Horsepower is now 355 and torque has been raised to 383 lb.-ft. that is channeled through a Hydra-Matic 6L80 six-speed automatic transmission with a unique police-service calibration that supports pursuit performance featuring TapShift control, Tow/Haul mode and Auto Grade Braking. The final drive ratio is 3.42 vs. the previous Tahoe’s 3.08, which means the shorter gear (higher numerically) should also aid in acceleration. FlexFuel capability, improved engine mounts, electronic throttle control, adaptive exhaust systems, improved aerodynamics and other technologies help the engines operate in four-cylinder mode more often with Active Fuel Management.
The 2015 Tahoe PPV uses the same size 265/60-17 tires and wheels as the current model, which is good because that means fleets with large tire and wheel inventories can continue to use up their supply. A police-specific StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with Proactive Roll Avoidance and traction control is also featured. Steering is an all-new variable assist electric model while stopping duties are handled by a new power-assisted, four-wheel disc, four-wheel ABS, with Duralife rotors; vented front and rear rotors that have been tuned for police use.
According to Chevrolet, the completely new redesigned interior includes rear park assist, backup camera and optional adjustable pedals. New inlaid doors fit into the body side openings instead of over the top of the body, significantly improving the quietness of the interior cabin and contributing to improved aerodynamics for better fuel economy and a quieter ride that allows for better interior audio characteristics for radios and camera systems.
Middle seat leg room has increased by two inches though the wheelbase of the new Tahoe remains unchanged at 116 inches. In comparing the 2015 model to the 2014 2WD PPV Tahoe, headroom up front has increased by an inch, with legroom increasing by a sizeable four inches, areas that are always appreciated by officers. A new instrument panel houses an available eight-inch color touch-screen radio with a secured storage bin behind the motorized screen. The compartmentalized center console is large enough to store a laptop or iPad. The Tahoe has a standard 730-CCA Auxiliary Battery, which allows officers to power their equipment when the vehicle is not running, avoiding drain on the primary vehicle battery. The vehicle also has a 110V power outlet and USB input. A fully integrated electrical system makes it easier to upfit police-specific equipment. Also new for 2015 PPV vehicles, OnStar is now standard, providing automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle slowdown and recovery. The Tahoe also comes standard with Bluetooth, which allows officers to stay connected safely and talk hands-free while on the road.
GM will introduce a police model on its newly redesigned Silverado pickup for those agencies which require pickups over SUVs for patrol work. Mechanically similar to the Tahoe, it comes in long and short bed configurations and either 2WD or 4WD. Unlike the Tahoe, however, it is not pursuit rated.
Dodge has always been the brash boy on the block, starting most recently with a police version of the Charger back in 2005. While the model went through some changes in 2011 that helped address some shortcomings, it was time for a new Charger. Enter: the completely revamped 2015 Charger Pursuit. According to Dodge, every aspect of the car has been reworked to make it a better patrol vehicle. The distinct, authoritative styling remains, but much has changed. The front features an all-new crosshair grille, LED turn signals, daytime running lights (DRLs) and new projector-beam headlamps. Headlamps and tail lamps are now wrapped around each corner to create a trimmer, more lightweight look. At the rear, the C-pillar has been moved rearward, the LED tail lamp has been updated with glowing light ribbon technology and the center high-mounted stop lamp is relocated from the top of the deck lid to the roofline inside the back glass, allowing for the centering of the backup camera.
Inside, a new seven-inch full-color, multi-view instrument gauge cluster offers more than 100 intuitive ways to customize how information is presented. At the center, a new instrument panel center stack with next-generation Uconnect 5.0 system with five-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth comes standard. Every Charger Pursuit now includes hands-free Uconnect Phone for 2015 too. A new instrument cluster and redesigned three-spoke thick rim sport steering wheel are present with steering wheel buttons that are now larger and illuminated to make them easier to operate. Based on feedback, 2015 brings a new vehicle systems interface module for easy equipment integration, police-duty front seats with unique bolstering to accommodate officers’ belt-mounted gear and a column-mounted shifter with Auto Stick to free up space for center-console mounted controls.
Changes also abound in the power and drivetrain department. Delivering best-in-class power, the Dodge Charger Pursuit V-8 with its 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine comes with 370 horsepower, 390 lb.-ft. of torque, active fuel management and a fuel economy rating of 25 mpg highway. Dodge also says the new engine makes for 0-60 mph times of about six seconds, so while the HEMI option has never been a slouch, 2015 brings even more beans. For those departments who don’t need or want such power, an aluminum 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine that delivers 292 horsepower, 260 lb.-ft. of torque, E-85 flex-fuel capability and up to 26 mpg highway is available.
Suspension-wise, Dodge says the Dodge Charger Pursuit features Chrysler Group’s second-generation large car RWD architecture with performance-tuned suspension, load-leveling NIVOMAT shocks, heavy-duty anti-lock vented-disc brakes (ABS), front- and rear-stabilizer bars, 18-inch performance tires on steel wheels and two-mode electronic stability control (ESC). Thankfully, larger 14.5-in. front and 13.8-in. rear pursuit-rated brakes with improved cooling ducts are now standard as is a new electric power steering system for RWD models. The Charger is also available in AWD and both platforms include a myriad of driver assist options. In fact, Dodge says there are more than 55 safety and security features on the 2015 model. We will save those, and the multitude of prep packages for when we have a chance to drive one, but suffice it to say, if it's even remotely close to the previous model in performance, it will not disappoint.
Dodge is also offering a Special Services version of its recently redesigned Durango in both 2WD and 4WD configurations. Either drivetrain is eligible for the 5.7 liter HEMI and 3.6 liter V-6 from the Charger, plus heavy duty engine cooling, upgraded braking, a 220 amp alternator and up to 7,200 lbs in towing capacity. This year also brings an eight-speed automatic transmission, 5.0 AM/FM/BT radio, Thin Film Transistor (TFT) reconfigurable digital gauge cluster, steering wheel paddle shifters, capless fuel filter, LED taillamps with 192 LEDs, new headlamp design, front fascia with a floating signature Dodge cross-hair grille and new 18-inch Tech Silver wheels. As someone who previously had a Durango Hemi as a patrol vehicle, and who currently has one sitting in my driveway, albeit an older model, the Durango presents a viable option to the Interceptor Utility where towing is a consideration.
Finally, a Special Service Ram 1500 pickup is available with 2WD/4WD and an even more powerful 5.7 liter HEMI that churns out 395 hp and a very stout 410 lb.-ft. of torque that will happily pull just over 10,000 lbs attached to its rear hitch. Though it's not pursuit-rated, if your duty environment includes larger boats, trailers and cargo, this Ram might be worth a look.
2015 continues the trend with evolutionary changes to current models to make them even better, and wholesale changes that redefine some main players. We will reserve impressions on the results of these efforts until we drive them in the coming months, but if specifications on paper are any indication, today's officers have a lot to smile about in the driving department.
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