The Caprice PPV
The Caprice PPV comes equipped with a high-output alternator, engine oil; transmission and power steering coolers... The Caprice PPV
The Caprice PPV
The Caprice PPV trunk. Photo Dale Stockton The Caprice PPV trunk.
FEATURED IN VEHICLE OPS
In the fight for patrol-car supremacy, the police vehicle “boxing ring” has been missing a grizzled veteran for far too long. Phased out in 1996, Chevrolet’s behemoth Caprice was the George Foreman of police cars. Big, solid and packing a huge wallop with its then-astounding 260 hp, the Caprice knocked other police vehicles on the canvas when the throttle was applied. Unfortunately, it was short-lived, and the Caprice name disappeared and has remained dormant for the past 14 years or so. Until now, that is. Chevrolet is coming out swinging with an all-new patrol vehicle that seems destined to take the lead in the performance wars.
Recent economic times have been hard on The Big Three. Stalwart brands like Saturn and Pontiac have fallen to the corporate axe as General Motors has been forced to reshuffle its product offerings. Lost in this consolidation have been some good cars, including the Pontiac G8 GT. The G8, based on a vehicle built by GM’s Australian Holden Division, is a four-door, high-performance sedan that combines an excellent chassis, large brakes and performance suspension with a stout 362-hp 6.0 liter V-8 that lets it thunder to 60 mph in a scant 5 seconds or so. Moreover, having been developed in Australia through an arm of GM that’s well versed in making cars that turn and stop as well as they accelerate, the G8 GT contains all the ingredients necessary to be a leader in the sports sedan world. Pontiac doesn’t exist anymore, so what do you do if you’re GM and you need to find a suitable home for your muscular orphan? Revive the Caprice.
‘Right Tool, Right Time’
The all-new Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle (PPV), which was unveiled at the recent International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference in Denver, is considered a concept vehicle, and it will make its way to the production line some time in 2010. Once built, it will join the ranks of law enforcement departments across North America in 2011. According to Jim Campbell, general manager for GM Fleet and Commercial Operations, “The new Chevrolet Caprice police car is the right tool at the right time for law enforcement. We asked for a lot of feedback from our police customers, which helped us develop a vehicle that is superior to the Crown Victoria in key areas.” Brent Dewar, vice president of the global Chevrolet brand, added, “Along with Impala and Tahoe, the Caprice PPV gives agencies a greater range of choices for police and special service vehicles that are all available from Chevrolet.”
Unlike other police cars on the market, Chevrolet says the 2011 Caprice PPV isn’t based on existing “civilian” passenger car models sold in North America. Its DNA clearly resembles the G8, but it was developed in key areas for police duty, and it possesses cutting-edge equipment and features.
Under the Hood
As with previous Caprice models, lack of power won’t be an issue. The 2011 PPV utilizes a 6.0-L V-8 that thumps out 355 hp and an estimated 384 lbs./foot of torque, but does so with fuel-saving Active Fuel Management technology and E85 capability. Coupled with a 6-speed automatic transmission, the Caprice PPV is expected to crack the six-second barrier to 60 mph, and be able to hit high top speed numbers. Interestingly enough, the Caprice PPV will be offered first with the V-8, and then with a V-6 option in 2012.
Inside the ‘Office’
Because no current civilian counterpart exists, Chevrolet had the freedom to change things around to better suit officer needs. For example, the front seats are sculpted to pocket the equipment belt, which greatly increases the comfort for a range of police officer sizes. The foam of the seat back and cushion-insert surfaces is designed to conform to the shape of an equipment belt’s various items, allowing the officer’s back to rest properly.
High-wear materials were chosen to stand up to long hours of everyday use. Breathability, long-term durability and ease of cleaning were also important criteria. Engineers worked on several iterations of the seat, testing a couple of versions in the field to get real-world feedback from police officers who used prototypes in their cruisers for a month. The final design is a result of their feedback.
The dash of the Caprice flows smoothly across the front of the occupant area and features compatibility with in-dash, touch-screen computer technology. According to Chevrolet, the Caprice was designed for five-passenger seating, meaning the upper-center section of the dashboard can be used for equipment mounting without the concern of air bag deployment interference. Optional front-seat-only, side-curtain air bags allow a full-width, rear-seat barrier for greater officer safety. Two trunk-mounted batteries, with one of them dedicated to powering various police equipment, are provided. In addition, there’s a driver information center in the instrument cluster with a selectable speed-tracking feature. A host of complementary features are also offered, including special equipment packages, such as spotlights, lockouts for the power windows and locks, and an undercover street-appearance package (9C3). To allow more room for interior equipment, the standard radio can be moved to the trunk.
It Wouldn’t Be a Caprice If It Wasn’t Big
The Caprice PPV is based on GM’s global rear-drive family of vehicles, which includes the Chevy Camaro. Its longest wheelbase—118.5 inches (3,010 mm)—is used along with a four-wheel independent suspension that delivers responsive high-performance driving characteristics that are crucial in some police scenarios. The Caprice PPV’s long wheelbase also contributes to exceptional spaciousness. Compared with the primary competition, it has a larger interior volume—112 cubic feet/3,172 L—than the Ford Crown Victoria, including nearly 4 inches (101 mm) more rear legroom. The barrier between the front seat and rear seat is positioned farther rearward, allowing for full front-seat travel and greater recline for officer comfort. With 18 cubic feet (535 L) of free space (beyond the battery), the Caprice’s trunk volume is large enough to accommodate a full-size spare tire under a flat load surface in the trunk storage area.
As would be expected, the Caprice PPV comes equipped with a high-output alternator; engine oil, transmission and power steering coolers; standard 18″ steel wheels with bolt-on center caps; large, four-wheel disc brakes with heavy-duty brake pads; heavy-duty suspension components; and a police-calibrated stability control system.
In the world of police vehicles, the original Chevrolet Caprice went toe to toe with the Crown Victoria for years—holding its own in some categories, dominating in others. In the time since its demise, other players, such as the Dodge Charger and Chevrolet’s own Impala and Tahoe, have entered the ring. With the introduction of a Caprice PPV in 2011, Chevrolet may be ready to administer another knock-out punch. Stay tuned for upcoming test drives and reviews of the Caprice as production time nears. In the meantime, one thing is for sure: The Caprice lives.