Reviewed by a real officer too. Armed and ready to kick some perp's butt The Charger's modern shape and sculpted waist make the Crown Vic prowler look old and dowdy. After all, it is old and dowdy. By Ofc. Jerry Barstow Date posted: 03-15-2007 340-horsepower Hemi V8 - 18-inch wheels - Five-speed automatic transmission - Stability control There is no perfect police car, but the 2007 Dodge Charger Police Package is as good as it gets right now. In fact, it's the quickest and fastest police sedan ever sold to law enforcement agencies through normal government bidding processes — you know, processes where "low bid" means "good enough." When I was hired onto the job, the Dodge Diplomat squad cars of the late 1980s were being retired. I don't remember much about it, but I'll never forget its stand-up Pentastar hood ornament and the arthritic force of its 140-horsepower, 318-cubic-inch V8. I was a 23-year-old rookie driving a car built for 75-year-old grandmothers. And since the Diplomats the grandmas drove didn't have anti-aerodynamic light bars across their roofs and 300 pounds of gear in their trunks, the old ladies could smoke me. The Dodge Charger Police Package doesn't have a dopey hood ornament, but it does have 200 hp more than the crummy old Diplomat. It'll also blow the spotlights off the Ford Crown Victoria P71 Police Interceptors I've been driving for the last 15 years. It's the first legitimate cop car competition for the Crown Vic since GM let the rear-drive Chevrolet Caprice 9C1 croak in 1996. It's the best thing to happen to cops since the Supreme Court said we had to read suspects their "rights." Charger R/T to Cop Charger Remember this face. It will soon be appearing in your rearview mirror. Most of what goes into a Charger Police Package is the same stuff that goes into the Charger R/T. This includes the same Mercedes-derived all-independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, five-speed automatic transmission and rack-and-pinion steering. Don't forget the 340-hp Hemi V8 with that fuel-efficient Multi-Displacement System (MDS) technology they got. The enforcement machine even comes with the same size tires as the Charger R/T, 225/60R18 all-season Continentals. From there, however, the differences start piling up. For instance, the Charger R/T's all-season tires are H-speed rated (130 mph), but the Cop Charger has Continental ContiProContact radials with a V-speed rating (149 mph). Also the Cop Charger has stout steel wheels, and the optional plastic wheel covers look good enough to fool most people. The Charger police package is also available with a 250-hp, 3.5-liter V6. It's perfect for municipal police departments that are cheap (That's all of them). Stripped down, toughened up Cops need big flat seats because we wear so much necessary equipment on the job. Take off my gun belt and bulletproof vest and I'd like seat bolsters, too. The Cop Charger doesn't have much decoration. Stripped of its lights and decals, only the holes hogged out of its A-pillars to fit twin spotlights would provide a visual clue that this is a vehicle for trained law-enforcement professionals. Beyond this, the inside rear door handles and locks have been disabled (duh) and the 160-mph speedometer is certified for enforcement. Of course the Cop Charger carries the mechanical fortification necessary for cop work. There's a 160-amp alternator, plus external coolers for the engine oil, transmission fluid and power-steering fluid. The engine's cooling system has been upgraded for "severe duty." Nothing ages a car like a few months of police duty. Most run three shifts a day, seven days a week; and their engines are often left idling for hours at a time. "Deferred maintenance" isn't just a slipup, but a budgetary mandate. And cops like me treat them as if they didn't own them. I swear that for the last three years I haven't gotten into a Crown Vic and not had my boots stick to some gunk on the floor. So I might be biased here because the Cop Charger I drove for this story was new, smelled good and wasn't sticky. Its engine was still fresh and no drunks had barfed in the backseat. Even more remarkable was the fact that there was plenty of tread on all four tires and the front end was in alignment. I'm not used to having it so good. Cop a plea These might look like alloy wheels, but in fact they're optional plastic covers on the standard 18-inch steel wheels. To civilians, the front seats might seem to be flat and shapeless, but for those of us who go to work while wearing a gun belt and bulletproof vest, they're about perfect. The Cop Charger's column shifter takes such a huge heave to move that it might as well be hooked up to a Soloflex exercise machine, but there is a tiny little button on the shift lever that operates the AutoStick manual shifting system and gives the driver some positive control unavailable in a Crown Vic. Although the dashboard is a relentless sweep of cheap black plastic, the instrumentation is easily read and the various knobs and all the secondary controls are operable by gloved hands. The whole roof seems much lower than in my Crown Vic. Which is kind of weird, because the Dodge is only a mere tenth of an inch lower overall. My guess is that a lot of perps are going to find themselves unintentionally knocking their noggins on the roof while being placed into the roomy-enough backseat. And maybe a few of those knocks will be a bit intentional. With a full-size spare aboard, there's simply not much room in the Cop Charger's trunk either. And every police officer has to carry a lot of equipment — road flares, a shotgun, riot gear, evidence bags, traffic cones and a dozen other things. Of course the fleet garage will steal the full-size spare the moment the Charger enters service anyhow, and that likely opens up enough space in the trunk. Driving the Hemi Chrysler's 5.7-liter Hemi features the MDS system that shuts down cylinders when they're not needed. The system works unobtrusively and picks up a few mpg. Compared to the Crown Vic, the Hemi-powered Charger is a rocket. All you have to do is slam open the throttle with the traction control on and the car will smack into 60 mph in just 6.2 seconds. The quarter-mile flew by in just 14.6 seconds at 96.1 mph. That's not quick enough to chase down a Lamborghini, but it's more than enough for police work. After all, we do have radios — two-way radios. What's particularly good about all this power is how it's seamlessly delivered and safely applied. The Hemi never hiccups, and the automatic transmission shifts with authoritative crispness. While the Crown Vics always feel reluctant to romp; this Charger actually seems eager. The real hero here, though, is the standard Electronic Stability Program (ESP). Look, those "World's Wildest Police Chase" TV shows might make it seem like every cop out there has the car-control skills of Michael Schumacher and can execute a perfect PIT maneuver while blindfolded in a tornado. But the truth is that a lot of us cops are pretty lame behind the wheel and the ESP system will keep many of us safe when there's more adrenaline than common sense flowing through our bodies. I'm sure it will literally save lives. Turn off the ESP and the Charger likes to wag its chiseled tail. The slalom times for the Charger are hardly record-shattering, but cops shouldn't be trying to set records anyhow. History lesson The slightly tail-in-air rake of the Charger makes this one of the most aggressive-looking squad cars of all time. And there's plenty of room on the deck lid for DARE stickers! In 1955 Dodge sold a Coronet police package equipped with the original Hemi. So the Charger isn't the first Hemi-powered cop car. But the legend the Charger chases most ferociously is that of the 1969 Dodge Polara police package, which had a big 440-cubic-inch Wedge V8 rated at 375 hp. Legend has it that this full-size brute whomped to 60 mph in only 6.3 seconds and ran through the quarter-mile in 14.4 seconds at 98 mph during tests conducted by the Michigan State Police (MSP). And, the legend continues, it was able to orbit Chrysler's testing oval at 147 mph. Those Polara numbers have been exceeded by the Chevy Camaro B4C police-package vehicle, but never approached by any other true sedan until the Cop Charger. During testing of the 2006 Hemi Cop Charger, the MSP measured a top speed "over 145 mph." This sounds awful close to 147. It's nice to know that there's a cop car out there today that can take on the legend of the 1969 Polara. And it's nice that it's a Dodge. Even though nice doesn't count for much in police cars. Now let's see how the Charger holds up to running over curbs, having its rear doors kicked apart by crazed crack fiends, and being manhandled by incompetent fleet-service departments. That'll be the real test. The Charger's radio has an auxiliary jack to plug in an iPod — perfect when you're eating doughnuts in the car. What? You were expecting to get through this without a doughnut joke? What Works: Powerful engine, agile chassis, mean and athletic-looking. What Needs Work: Small trunk, low rear-door opening, high-effort shifter, a bit narrow for hips wearing gun belts. Bottom Line: Dodge fortifies the Charger for enforcement duty and produces the most capable police sedan ever built. Specs & Performance Model Year: 2007 Make: Dodge Model: Charger Style: Police Package 4dr Sedan (5.7L 8cyl 5A) Base Price: $22,320 Price as Tested: $29,990 Drive Type: Rear-wheel drive Transmission Type: Automatic Displacement (liters): 5.7 Engine Type: V8 Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 340 hp @ 5,000 rpm Torque (ft-lbs @ rpm): 390 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm Braking System: Front and rear ventilated disc Steering System: Power steering Suspension Type (front): Short and long arm Suspension Type (rear): Multilink Tire Size (front): P255/60R18 99V Tire Size (rear): P255/60R18 99V Tire Brand: Continental Tire Model: ContiPro Contact Curb Weight (lbs): 4,031 (4,219 as tested) Recommended Fuel: Regular unleaded Fuel Tank Capacity (gal): 19 EPA Fuel Economy (mpg): 17 Edmunds Observed (mpg): 25 Performance 0 - 30 (sec): 2.4 0 - 45 (sec): 4 0 - 60 (sec): 6.2 0 - 75 (sec): 9 1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 14.7 @ 96.0 30 - 0 (ft): 32 60 - 0 (ft): 127 Braking Rating (Excellent, Good, Average, Poor or Very Poor): Good Slalom (mph): 62.6 Skid Pad (g-force): 0.80 Handling Rating (Excellent, Good, Average, Poor or Very Poor): Good Db @ Idle: 51 Db @ Full Throttle: 78.1 Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 71.5 Acceleration Comments: Best launch was a slap 'n go with zero brake torque. It makes all the right sounds and upshifts very crisply. No dead spots in power. Braking Comments: Firm-to-hard pedal feedback but consistently good stops. Little nose dive and fairly quiet ABS. Handling Comments: There's a surprising amount of grip from these tires and the steering is good at communicating how much is left. The balance is admirable considering the mass, but ultimately understeer sets in. Honestly, this car is a bit of a pig in the slalom. The steering is quite slow (both ratio and reaction), the suspension is too firm for the mass it must carry, and it's susceptible to oversteer. I had a hard time matching the stability system's time, but eventually did with ESP off.