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Monday, October 5, 2009

The Chevy Caprice Police Car Is Back!

By Ray Wert

After a 15-year absence patrolling U.S. streets, an all-new law-enforcement-only Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle (PPV) joins GM's fleet in 2011. Although it's built on the same rear-wheel-drive Camaro and dearly-departed Pontiac G8-spawning Zeta platform, it's not a G8 sedan.

Chevrolet plans to make the announcement of their new police cruiser today at the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police convention, in Denver, Colorado. Because we asked, we've been given an exclusive look at the details of the new car they plan to begin taking orders on next year with cars set to hit the streets in early 2011.

Contrary to reports at the end of last week by a number of auto outlets, we're now able to exclusively report GM's new police cruiser brings back the old Chevy Caprice name. It also will not be a re-badged Pontiac G8 sedan. Instead, the new Chevy uses the longest wheelbase version of the Zeta platform — 118.5" — making it almost four inches longer than the 114.7" wheelbase Pontiac G8 sedan. If that bigger-than-G8 number sounds familiar, it should — it's the same length as the Holden VE Ute, the Holden Statesman and the Middle Eastern Chevy Caprice and...drum roll, please...the Pontiac "El Camino" G8 ST. That's right folks, the new police car from Chevy is as close to the El Camino as we're coming here in the U.S. We'll give you a moment to clean up any coffee you've just spit up.
Done? Good, because there's more to the story. Chevy sounds like it's setting up the Caprice to not only meet the bar set by the police vehicle competition, but to blow it away. The long wheelbase Zeta-platformed Chevy sits right in the middle of the Ford Crown Vic's 114.7" wheelbase and the larger Dodge Charger's 120.0" wheelbase.
Under the hood, GM says the Caprice will have a 6.0-liter LS2 V8 engine rated at an estimated 355 HP and 384 lb-ft of torque mated to a six-speed auto transmission. Power output compares favorably to the 340 HP HEMI in the Dodge Charger police edition and absolutely blows away the Ford Crown Vic's 250 HP 4.6-liter V8.

VIDEO: The new Caprice in tire-squealing action!

We're told that bigger engine will deliver an expected best-in-class 0-to-60 time of under six seconds along with a similarly best-in-class top speed. But, for those forces uninterested in the super-sized 6.0-liter eight-cylinder engine, we're also told a V6 engine will be offered beginning in the 2012 model year.

The Caprice with both engine sizes will recieve the same police car-specific vehicle systems like high-output alternator and standard 18-inch steelies with bolt-on center caps and will ride on a heavy-duty four-wheel independent suspension and a "police-calibrated stability control system."

Chevy's cop competitive streak continues to the interior with optional compatibility available for in-dash, touch-screen computer technology (by relocating the standard radio to the trunk), two trunk-mounted batteries, with one of them dedicated to powering various police equipment and complimentary special packages such as spotlights; lockouts for the power windows and locks; and an "undercover" street-appearance package. Good luck with the "undercover" part considering there's no civilian version of the Caprice PPV.

Even the front seats have been sculpted to "pocket" an officer's equipment belt, with the foam density of the seatback and cushion insert surfaces designed to conform to the shape of an equipment belt's various items, allowing the officer's back to rest properly on the seatback surface. The barrier between the front seat and rear seat is also positioned farther rearward than the Charger or the Crown Vic, allowing for full front-seat travel and greater recline while officers take a highway-side siesta.

The new Caprice will also have significantly larger interior volume — 112 cubic feet — than the Ford Crown Victoria, including — thanks to the longer wheelbase — nearly 4 inches more rear legroom to help give handcuffed suspects a much more comfortable experience. The Caprice PPV's long wheelbase also gives it 18 cubic feet of free trunk volume. That's enough room for a full-size spare located under a flat load surface in the trunk storage area and any number of shotguns, RPGs and whatever other riot gear an officer feels like fitting into a trunk.

The new Caprice will not replace any current vehicle in the GM police vehicle fleet. Rather, it will join the Chevy Impala and the Chevy Tahoe in the bowtied brand's marked patrol vehicle lineup as a very high-powered member of GM's fraternity of police vehicles.

We can't wait to try out the driver's seat. Hopefully it'll be sometime before we try out the extra-large back seat.