For decades, the humble sedan dominated the world of law enforcement. When someone said, “police car,” odds are you pictured a full-size black-and-white sedan.
Turns out that law-enforcement fleet buyers are a conservative bunch, and as a group were in no hurry to turn their collective back on a tried-and-true performer like the trusty large, body-on-frame sedan.
Times do change, however, and for 2018, not one manufacturer offers a full-size, full-frame sedan for sale in the U.S. The Dodge Charger comes closest; though its construction is technically unibody, the Charger is rear-wheel drive, and it can be had with a traditional law-enforcement favorite, a V8 engine.
Gone, however, are the Ford Crown Victoria and the Chevrolet Caprice PPV. The former has been missing from action since 2011, though many fleets work hard to keep their remaining cars in running order. The Caprice PPV, which was available only to fleet buyers, was discontinued during 2017.
Since the departure of the stalwart Crown Victoria, police departments nationwide slowly began to embrace non-sedan alternatives to replace their rolling stock. And, though law-enforcement personnel have historically been leery of potentially fragile front-drive components, vehicles such as Ford’s Explorer-based Police Interceptor Utility have gained traction in police fleets. In fact, the Police Interceptor Utility will account for roughly half of all law-enforcement fleet vehicles sold in 2017.
Because we’re amused by trucks and crossovers modified to go fast, and because these same vehicles tend to look cool when outfitted in law-enforcement livery, we have selected what we consider to be the six coolest police vehicles of 2018.
As with most vehicles outfitted for police service, the vehicles seen below typically include suspension upgrades, heavy-duty brakes, beefed-up electrical systems, and heavy-duty interior fabrics as part of their law-enforcement packages.
Oh, and a quick note about the use of the phrase “pursuit rated.” Turns out that term can’t just be bandied about. A vehicle that is pursuit rated has been approved by the Michigan State Police and the Los Angeles Country Sheriff’s Department to serve as a high-speed interceptor. Each organization performs its own battery of tests to determine if specific vehicles are capable of safely engaging in chase activities at speeds up to 100 mph.
Another note: The prices quoted below are for the base vehicle, before it is upfitted with aftermarket equipment. Lights, sirens, cages, and communications hardware can easily add another $20,000 to the cost of a police vehicle.
Chevrolet Silverado SSV
Unlike the Ford Police Responder (below), the Silverado SSV isn’t job specific. Instead, the SSV can be had in most of the Silverado’s bed and cabin configurations, and with rear-wheel drive or 4WD.
That said, we think the Silverado looks pretty great in cop livery. The only engine available for the 2018 SSV is Chevy’s venerable 5.3-liter V8, which is good for an EPA-estimated 23 mpg highway on rear-drive models. The Silverado SSV starts at around $37,000.
Chevrolet Tahoe PPV
No, your eyes haven’t deceived you; some of the police Tahoes out on the road are in fact lowered. Chevy sells two Tahoe models to the law-enforcement community: the Police Pursuit Vehicle (PPV) and the SSV (Special Service Vehicle), the latter of which is little more than a Tahoe toughened up for the rigors of police life.
The PPV, however, is pretty darn cool. To help this big SUV handle the demands of criminal pursuit, the suspension is lowered by over an inch, stiffer springs are employed, and special speed-rated tires are fitted. The result is a big, roomy police vehicle that is fully capable of chasing after bad guys at high rates of speed. A 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 is the only engine offered. The PPV starts at around $43,000.
Dodge Durango Special Service
We’ve always liked the Dodge Durango, and we like it a little more dressed in black and white. The upgrade to Special Service duty includes significantly enhanced brakes and additional engine cooling.
Dodge recommends the Durango Special Service for canine duty, suggesting that the truck’s roomy cargo area and 3-zone climate control will help keep the dogs comfortable. A 290-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 and 390-horsepower Hemi V8 are offered. The Durango Special Service starts at around $32,000.
Ford F-150 Police Responder
Ford promotes the F-150 Police Responder as the perfect vehicle for border-patrol agencies. The Responder is basically an F-150 SuperCrew with a short bed and standard 4WD. To this is added the off-road-ready FX4 package, and—this is the good part—a 375-horsepower EcoBoost V6 engine.
Like a number of F-150 models, the Responder comes standard with Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission, which should help contain fuel costs. The Responder should start at around $40,000.
Ford Police Interceptor Utility
Somehow, some way, the fleet salespeople at Ford have talked police-fleet buyers out of their prejudices against front-wheel-drive vehicles—and in a big way. The Police Interceptor Utility (PIU) is now the best-selling police vehicle in the United States, and by most accounts the men and women behind the wheel of these Explorer-based cop cars rather like them.
The PIU is available with one of two engines, and in either front-drive or AWD form. In place of the Explorer’s 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 is a 305-horsepower 3.7-liter mill. And, for serious chase action, a 365-horsepower EcoBoost turbocharged 3.5-liter engine can be had on AWD models. The Interceptor Utility starts at around $33,000.
Ram 1500 Special Service
Like the Silverado SSV, the Ram 1500 SSV can be had in most civilian Ram configurations—which is great, because the Ram’s a pretty nice truck to begin with.
Ram does limit the 1500 Special Service to the popular 5.7-liter Hemi V8, which, with 395 horsepower on tap, should serve law-enforcement officers well. The Ram 1500 Special Service starts at around $40,000.