2019 Michigan State Police Vehicle Tests

2019 Michigan State Police Vehicle Tests

By Brad Brewer


Every year in September, the Michigan State Police (MSP) conducts its annual testing of police vehicles and police motorcycles. The following month in October, the Los Angeles County Sherriff (LASD) also conducts its annual vehicle testing. The MSP event runs over four days and takes place at several unique locations in Michigan depending on the specific tests being performed.

The vehicle acceleration, top speed, and braking tests are performed at the FCA Proving Grounds. This 4.7-mile, 140 mph neutral steer banked oval provides the appropriate space to obtain accurate test results at top speeds. The ABS brake test is also performed at the FCA Proving Grounds.

The motorcycle brake testing is performed at the Michigan State Police Precision Driving Unit’s (PDU) own facility. The MSP PDU’s east straightaway has been used for brake testing since the 2011 model year and provides a consistent surface to gauge brake performance. The motorcycle dynamics testing is performed at Grattan Raceway.

The vehicle dynamics testing is also performed at Grattan Raceway. Before getting into the details of the actual testing, it’s appropriate to put some context to why these tests are done and what they actually do to assist Law Enforcement across North America when they evaluate police vehicles to purchase.

It should be pointed out that MSP and LASD are not governing bodies that decide which vehicles get the honor to be called Pursuit Rated; that couldn’t be further from the truth. Both these agencies have a long history of testing vehicles designed for use in the rigorous environment of front-line policing. It is the nature of the job that requires front-line officers to do extraordinary things in order to keep the public safe. When officers are forced to escalate to high-risk activities, their vehicle must be able to perform consistently at a high level with a non-existent failure rate.

Government administrators involved in the procurement of police vehicles often ask, “What does ‘Pursuit Rated’ actually mean?” The reality is no one can really define the term Pursuit Rated or give a specific vehicle that official designation. But MSP does a very good job explaining the standard of the rating and its basic rationale for why it is required in front-line policing.

This is an excerpt from the MSP Annual Report, which sums it up appropriately:

“The term Pursuit Capable is more appropriate as there is no sanctioning body, or specific performance criteria, to determine if the vehicle meets a specialized designation. Each vehicle has been modified from a civilian vehicle to perform better under the rigors of police use. These vehicles are engineered to repetitively stop in a shorter distance, accelerate faster, and handle better than the base platform. Modifications to engines, cooling systems, transmissions and shifting parameters, brakes, tires, stability control programming, and other changes may all be included as part of the manufacturer’s police package.”

“The MSP has performance criteria attached to its purchasing specifications. The criteria has historically been that a vehicle must accelerate from 0 – 60 mph in 9.0 seconds, 0 – 80 mph in 14.9 seconds, and 0 – 100 mph in 24.6 seconds. The vehicle must reach 110 mph in 4,838 feet and 120 mph in 8,985 feet. The vehicle must maintain an average deceleration rate of 25.79 ft./sec2 while performing twenty 60 – 0 mph threshold braking stops. The vehicle must also successfully complete all 32 laps of the Grattan Raceway dynamics testing without major component failure. Meeting these criteria does not certify a vehicle as being Pursuit Rated; rather, it justifies a vehicle is capable of performing the job function the MSP requires in a police vehicle. When reading the testing results, it is up to each agency to determine if the vehicle is suitable for the mission of their agency.”

It’s of interest to note how and why the MSP tests are different from their counterparts out west at the L.A. County Sherriff’s (LASD) Vehicle Test, which is also run annually. MSP is a full-service agency that devotes a lot of time to freeway patrol depending on the geographical area being patrolled. As such, they devote considerable resources to highway traffic patrol.  Therefore, performance at freeway speeds is important to them and their testing reflects that. MSP tests all vehicles for top speed; since today’s vehicles are most often speed limited by software, it’s a simple verification of the manufacturer’s claims. Essentially, MSP wants to know, will it hit the advertised speed? Only the General Motors Chevrolet Tahoe has a mechanical top speed limit.

The top speed testing methodology is designed to follow the fourth acceleration run, and each test vehicle continues to accelerate to the top speed attainable within 14 miles from the start of the run. The highest speed attained within the 14-mile distance is considered the vehicle’s top speed.

LASD also puts 400 pounds of weight in the back of each SUV tested as LASD believes no police department would ever deploy an empty vehicle so why not test as it would likely be deployed in the real world. MSP does not add extra weight to any of the tested vehicles. MSP is testing the vehicle to verify it can meet their specific requirements and the advertised claims of the manufacturer.

During the 0-60 mph brake testing, the MSP allows each vehicle to have fresh burnished brakes (new pads and rotors); they do not require the vehicle to have been driven at all before the brakes are evaluated. The LASD method involves the vehicles being driven hard and the brakes are hot before the brakes are tested.

The test begins with ‘cold’ brakes. The first five stops are performed in a southbound direction, the second set of stops in a northbound direction across the same surface. Once 10 stops are performed, the vehicle is driven 3.2 miles at 45 mph to allow the brakes to cool before the second sequence. After the cooling distance, the 10 stops are repeated. The exact initial velocity at the beginning of each of the 60 – 0 mph decelerations, and the exact distance required to make each stop, is recorded by means of a Race Logic Vbox 3i GPS-based data collection unit.

For this year’s test of the 2019/20 model year vehicles, MSP tested 12 vehicles: the Chevrolet Tahoe 5.3L RWD and 5.3L 4WD; the Dodge Durango Pursuit V-6 and V-8; the Ford PI Utility AWD 3.3L, AWD 3L EcoBoost, and AWD Hybrid; the Dodge Charger 3.6L RWD, 5.7L RWD, and 5.7L AWD; the Police Responder Hybrid Sedan and the F150 Police Responder.

Some of the preliminary results from the vehicle testing:

For the acceleration and speed tests, among sedans, the Charger 5.7L AWD had the fastest 0-60 mph time of 5.87 seconds. The Charger 5.7L RWD had the fastest 0-100 mph sedan time of 14.66 seconds. The 5.7L RWD and AWD tied for top sedan speed of 149 mph.

This was the first year Ford did not test their Police sedan; the P.I. Sedan is no longer offered by Ford as the retail Taurus is no longer in production. The only full-size police sedan offered now is the Dodge Charger Pursuit. Ford does offer the smaller Ford Fusion Responder, which is more than capable of being used as a front-line patrol vehicle.

The 2020 Police Interceptor Utility (PIU) EcoBoost turned the fastest 0-60 mph (5.77 seconds) and 0-100 mph times (13.59 seconds) of all vehicles tested, including sedans. The EcoBoost also had the highest top speed of any vehicle tested, at 150 mph. Obviously Ford’s Police Program team was pleased, but it’s actually an historical moment in police vehicle development. Think about it, a heavier SUV just became the fastest police vehicle period, even against the sedans.

In fact, this is actually a tribute to all three OEMs and their never-ending commitment to not only their own product development but the overall quality of police vehicles in general. Unfortunately, too many officers are lost each year while inside a police vehicle, so this engineering development will hopefully contribute to reducing those losses. It is a fact that officers today are protected by vehicles far safer than ones built even 10 years ago. All three OEMs deserve huge credit for their ongoing effort to keeping all first responders safer in their vehicles.

MSP found that in the driving dynamics test, the Charger 5.7L AWD had the fastest average lap speed of the sedans, 1:37:11. The PIU EcoBoost had the fastest average lap of all vehicles tested (1:36:47).

During brake testing, the Charger 3.6L RWD had the fastest projected stopping distance from 60 mph, 126.9 feet. The Durango Pursuit 3.6L had the second fastest projected stopping distance of 128.8 feet; this is the best time among the SUVs.

The new SUVs tested were the Durango Pursuit and the Ford Police Interceptor Utility Hybrid. The V-6 Durango had a 0-60 mph acceleration of 8.59 seconds, while the V-8 Durango achieved this in 7.08 seconds. The PI Utility Hybrid tested at 7.27 seconds. Top speeds for these vehicles are 117 mph for the V-6 Durango, 118 mph for the V-8 Durango, and 137 for the PI Utility Hybrid. Projected stopping distance from 60 mph for the PI Utility Hybrid was 129.4 feet.

Even while covered in a heavy camo paint scheme, the new Ford 2020 Police Interceptor Utility not only did well against the competition but even against its own previous model year vehicles.

The 2020 PIU EcoBoost was faster than last year’s 3.5L AWD EcoBoost performance 0-60 (0.5 seconds), ­­­0-100 (2.0 seconds), best single lap (1.8 seconds), and best average lap (1.7 seconds).

The 2020 PIU hybrid turned in the second fastest 0-100 mph, second fastest lap, and second fastest average lap of all utility vehicles, including those with V-8 engines, only behind Ford’s PIU EcoBoost. It beat last year’s PIU 3.7L AWD performance 0-60 (0.5 seconds), 0-100 (2.2 seconds), best single lap (0.8 seconds), and best average lap (0.6 seconds).

During the MSP vehicle dynamics portion of the testing, the Chevrolet Tahoe experienced transmission overheating. Both the rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive Tahoes experienced partial power/protect mode issues in laps 7 or 8 on each run for each driver. This partial power mode limited the vehicle’s speed and caused the final lap times to increase substantially. GM engineers believed the reason was malfunctioning thermal bypass valves. These valves determine the flow of transmission fluid through the transmission oil cooler. 

Both the rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive Tahoe were retested on Oct. 11, 2018, after having the thermal bypass valves replaced. The four-wheel drive Tahoe did not experience partial power during the retest. The rear wheel drive Tahoe experienced partial power on the last lap of the third and fourth runs. GM Engineering believes this condition will only be experienced after an extended period of aggressive driving. A Technical Service Bulletin for repair of this condition will be released upon final resolution.  

Along with the vehicles, MSP does a very extensive police motorcycle test process. Motorcycle brake testing is performed at the Michigan State Police Precision Driving Unit. The east straightaway has been used for brake testing since the 2011 model year and provides a consistent surface to gauge brake performance from year to year.

Motorcycle dynamics testing is performed at Grattan Raceway. This two-mile road course provides a taxing environment to test motorcycles in dynamics and continues to produce comprehensive results regarding durability and performance.

To obtain specific detailed test results for the motorcycles and the vehicles, see the MSP website or obtain a copy of their Annual Report that is normally released in November, following the September testing.

URLs: https://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,4643,7-123-72297_30536_53738---,00.html



Published in Police Fleet Manager, Nov/Dec 2018

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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