Los Angeles County Sheriff 2020/21 Model Year Vehicle Tests
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) conducted their annual vehicle tests on police package vehicles. The current LASD program dates back to 1974, when they took it over from the Los Angeles Police Department, which began testing police vehicles in 1956. Just like their counterparts back east at the Michigan State Police (MSP) Vehicle Testing both programs use active duty sworn EVOC instructors as test drivers. The LASD tests take place on the inner tracks located at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana CA. This year the weather was very warm and dry with air temps in the mid 80’s.
To those that are new to the Law Enforcement fleet business the vehicle testing done by the MSP and LASD is not exactly the same, and for good reason. While some testing is similar there are significant differences that any fleet manager should be aware of before interpreting any results into a possible selection process.
It should also be made clear that the MSP and LASD are not governing bodies who decide which vehicles get the blessing 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 which is 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.
So how and why are the MSP tests different from the LA County Sherriff’s (LASD) Vehicle test? The MSP is full service patrol agency that does provide contract policing in an urban or rural environment. But the primary use of their vehicles is at highway speeds and their testing reflects that. MSP tests all vehicles for top speed, since todays vehicles are most often speed limited by software it’s a simple verification of the manufacturers claims. LASD also puts 400 lbs 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 60-0MPH brake testing the MSP allows each vehicle to have fresh 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.
Just like the MSP does the LASD also test Police Special Motorcycles. The testing not only involves speed, handling and acceleration, but a very in-depth braking test on various surfaces including sand covered asphalt and wet skid pad.
TRACK TEST #1
32 LAP HIGH-SPEED VEHICLE DYNAMICS EVALUATION
This test is designed to evaluate, identify and eliminate the obviously unacceptable vehicles. Four drivers are utilized for each vehicle; each driver completes eight laps around the 1.46-mile test track for a total of 32 timed laps. The fastest and the slowest lap times are eliminated; the remaining six lap times are averaged. Four Emergency Vehicle Operations Center (EVOC) driver training instructors, two each from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles Police Department share the driving and evaluation of these vehicles. At the conclusion of the preliminary handling portion of the test, each driver completes a “Driver’s Subjective Evaluation” form. If the test vehicle is judged unacceptable in this preliminary review, it is rejected and not subject to further testing and evaluation.
TRACK TEST #2
The test is conducted immediately following the preliminary handling test (32 laps). This ensures that the brakes are tested after being driven at high speeds, thus simulating the actual operating conditions experienced by the officer in the field. The test is conducted by first accelerating the vehicle to 80 MPH, then decelerating to a stop, maintaining an average deceleration rate of 22 feet per second.
This procedure is repeated three additional times. At this point, a five-minute stationary cool down period occurs. The vehicle is then accelerated to a speed of 60 MPH and decelerated at the maximum deceleration rate attainable before the onset of ABS. After a two-minute stop, the 60 MPH procedure is repeated again. As soon as the vehicle has stopped, it is immediately accelerated to 60 MPH and then stopped as quickly as possible, simulating a panic stop. That stopping distance is measured and recorded. If a brake malfunction is experienced (i.e., severe fading or inability to stop in a straight line,) an effort is made to detect the cause of the brake failure. If it is decided that the failure is inherent in the engineering of the brake system of the vehicle, the test is discontinued and the vehicle is disqualified from further testing. If the failure is associated with a correctable situation, it is corrected and the test is rerun.
TRACK TEST #3
A vehicle from the 1970 era usually exceeded 180 degrees under normal driving conditions and generally overheated at 212 degrees. Today, modern engines operate safely between 200 to 260 degrees. LASD heat testing is a “PASS-FAIL” scenario and is based on manufacturer’s allowable operating temperatures. Heat from each engine component is measured by a diagnostic tool via the vehicles data link connector. Components not electronically monitored by the onboard computers are measured by means of a digital thermometer. Measurements are taken at the conclusion of the 32 high speed laps. This process is accomplished in the following manner:
1. Transmission Fluid Measurement taken via DLC (data link connector).
2. Engine Oil Measurement taken via DLC (data link connector).
3. Power Steering The probe is inserted into the pump reservoir fluid.
4. Radiator Coolant Measurement taken via DLC (data link connector)
5. Outside Air Temperature is measured away from the vehicle and in direct sunlight.
TRACK TEST #4
This test is designed to measure vehicle performance in terms of acceleration, including speed and time elapsed at the quarter mile. Although the top speed is not recorded, a minimum of 100 MPH is generally obtained to satisfy the requirements for high speed law enforcement patrol. To get the information on the 30 – 60 MPH and 60 –100 MPH two separate runs are driven. In each run, the vehicle is accelerated to just under the target mileage. The vehicle’s speed is allowed to level off, and then the vehicle is accelerated through the target mileage. This allows for an actual time between the targeted mileages.
TRACK TEST #5
CITY PURSUIT COURSE EVALUATION
This test is for those vehicles equipped with a factory police package and identified by the manufacturer as a pursuit vehicle. This evaluation is conducted on a closed 2.45-mile city street course meant to represent the environment most urban law enforcement agencies must contend with. The course has virtually no straight-a-ways and consists of right and left turns and obstacles in the roadway. This is the final test during the road certification and the manufacturers, if they so choose, are allowed to rebuild the vehicle’s brake system prior to this test. For this test, two drivers are utilized for each vehicle. Each driver completes two laps around the city pursuit course. If the test vehicle is unable to complete the course in less than 4 minutes and 45 seconds, it is judged unacceptable for high speed law enforcement use.
COMMUNICATIONS & ERGONOMICS ACCEPTANCE
The communications evaluation concerns itself with the radio installation, the effect of radio operation on vehicle performance and the effect of the vehicle on radio performance. The Electromagnetic Interference Susceptibility test is intended for use in the presence of electromagnetic fields resulting from use of public safety two-way radios. Vehicle performance must not be affected in any way by transmissions from a radio and antenna installed in the vehicle and operating in any of the frequency ranges of 450 to 512 MHz, and having a radio frequency output no more than 50 watts.
Ergonomic testing evaluation which is a rating of human factors and space utilization done individually and independently by four patrol trained Deputy Sheriffs from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Each vehicle is driven through a 100 mile loop four times, each time by a different driver. The loop is divided equally into urban, suburban, and freeway driving conditions. The vehicle is operated with the air conditioner and headlights “turned on” and with the transmission selector in the overdrive position. No attempt is made to “baby” the vehicle through the loop, but hard acceleration starts are avoided. The ratings are averaged to minimize personal prejudices that individuals may have for, or against, any given vehicle.
FUEL EFFICIENCY TEST
While EPA mileage estimates may be helpful for comparative purposes, they are based on simulated driving conditions. The fuel efficiency evaluation is an attempt to estimate MPG (miles per gallon) based on actual driving conditions. Each vehicle is driven through a 100 mile loop, four times, each by a different driver. The loop is divided equally into urban, suburban, freeway and mountain roads. The vehicle is operated with the air conditioner and head lights “turned on” and with the transmission selector in the “overdrive” position. No attempt is made to “baby” the vehicle through the loop, however hard acceleration starts are avoided.
*sourced from LASD website
For 2020 GM submitted two versions of their redesigned Tahoe PPV. The Pursuit Tahoe is available in both 2 Wheel Drive and a unique “automatic” 4 Wheel Drive configuration. Both versions are powered by the 355 hp EcoTec3 V8 which has Variable Valve Timing, direct injection, and cylinder deactivation. Transmission is a 6-speed automatic. Both versions run 3.08 gearing. The PPV Tahoe has a top speed of 139 mph for the 2WD and the 4WD top speed of 121 mph. The Tahoe transmission bypass issue from last year’s testing was not present this year as the GM engineers have fixed the issue.
Dodge had a total of four vehicles being evaluated this year. As the last OEM to make and test a full-size police sedan Dodge submitted two versions of their top selling Charger Pursuit sedan. Their corporate Pentastar V6 with 292HP and 2.62 gearing was tested in a rear wheel drive Charger and the Dodge Durango Pursuit AWD V6 Pentastar with a 3.45 rear gearing. Dodge also brought two V8 Hemi vehicle for testing. The Charger AWD Hemi V8 370HP version with 3.08 gearing and the Durango Pursuit V8 Hemi with 3.09
This year Ford brought three versions of its segment leading Police Interceptor Utility (PIU). The 2020 Police Interceptor Utility (PIU) AWD Hybrid which Ford will be offering as standard for 2020 and if Agencies don’t want the 3.3L V6 gas/hybrid combo they can opt for a gasoline only version at a reduced cost.
Ford also submitted the PIU AWD 3.0L EcoBoost V6 twin turbo version along with the PIU 3.3L non turbo AWD PIU.
Ford submitted their Pursuit Rated 2020 Police Responder Sedan Hybrid equipped with the 2.0L I-4 Atkinson -cycle engine, an 88-kW electric A/C motor and a 1.4kW lithium-ion battery to have a projected EPA estimated 38 combined MPG. Now with a very adaptive pursuit rated transmission program Ford is offering this Fusion sized model as its only Police sedan.
The 2020 Ford F150 Responder with the 3.5L V6 EcoBoost marketed as the first Pursuit Rated pickup was also tested during the City Pursuit Course
Out of all the vehicles tested, the Ford PIU AWD 3.0L EcoBoost had the fastest 0-60 mph time, at 6.10 seconds. Surprisingly the Ford F150 Responder was a close second at 6.71 seconds.
Ford’s Police Interceptor Utility EcoBoost AWD had the fastest 0-100 mph time, at 15.32 seconds. The Dodge Charger V8 AWD came in second, at 15.59 seconds. During the 32-lap dynamic testing, the Ford’s Police Interceptor Utility EcoBoost AWD had the fastest average lap time at 1:21.89 seconds, followed by the Dodge Charger V8 AWD at 1: 21.97 seconds.
The panic stop brake test was where the Dodge Charger Pursuit V6 AWD really showed its stopping power with a 60-0MPH stop distance of 134.1FT. The closest vehicle to that was the smaller Ford Responder Hybrid with a distance of 140.0FT. The best SUV was the Durango Pursuit at 141.6 FT
The following motorcycles were also tested at this track event which the LASD documents thoroughly in their final report that’s released end of January.
Yamaha FJR 1300
Harley Davidson FLHT Electra Glide
Harley Davidson FLHTP Road King
BMW F750 GS-P
BMW F850 GS-P
BMW R1250 RP-P
On the motorcycle side, the Honda ST1300P had the fastest 0-60 mph time, at 4.40 seconds, followed by Yamaha FJR1300 at 4.56 seconds. The Yamaha FJR 1300 showed the fastest 0-100 mph time, at 9.01 seconds. BMW’s R1250 RP-P came in second, at 9.71 seconds.
The LASD Fleet Bureau conducts very thorough and extensive vehicle testing with very usable documentation. This testing does not in any way recommend a specific vehicle or other police vehicle accessory. It is up to each Fleet Manager or Agency representative to interpret the results and apply them specifically to their own agency criteria. The LASD does publish their complete test results at the end of January which are available electronically on their website or in hardcopy by contacting the Fleet Bureau.
Sergeant Brad Brewer is a 30-year member of the Vancouver Police Department. He was an eight-year member of the Ford Police Advisory Board and regularly gives presentations at law enforcement conferences on mobile computing, wireless technology and police vehicle ergonomics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Brad Brewer and LASD.