16 October 2015

Cop Car Showdown: Dodge Charger vs. Ford Crown Vic

Real cop cars have always been rear-wheel drive, four-door American sedans. The young upstart is the Dodge Charger and the fading champ is the Ford Crown Vic. Out of production since 2011, the Crown Vic still forms the backbone of many North American police fleets. Since all Ford has at the moment is the Taurus Police Interceptor and the Explorer, it looks like the future belongs to the Charger, but will it live up to the Crown Vic’s legacy? Here are a few of our thoughts:

  1. Exclusivity: The Charger has it here. The Crown Vic has served in every type of fleet imaginable from the U.S. to Canada, to Latin America, the Middle East and even Russia. For many though, the Crown Vic is synonymous with the other cars with lights on the roof – the yellow kind with meters on the dash instead of shotguns. Chargers, on the other hand, rarely show up as airport cabs.

  2. Longevity: With its separate body-on-frame construction (of the kind found on pickups), the Panther-platform Crown Vic was famous for strength, ease of collision repair and simplicity. It’s common to see Crown Vics with more than a half-million miles on them still going strong. The jury is still out on the unibody Charger, but it’s safe to predict that it won’t match the record of the Crown Vic.

  3. Menace: Tough as it was in service, the Crown Vic doesn’t really look very tough. The Charger, however, is just the thing to get perps in a compliant mood as soon as they see it in the rearview mirror.

  4. Performance: Crown Vics were generally equipped with 4.6-liter modular V-8s of around 250 hp. Even the V-6 of the Charger Pursuit cop car makes 292 hp. The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 makes 100 hp more than that. In performance, it’s no contest.

  5. Perp Space: Cabbies love the Crown Vic because of leg and knee room. Felons love it for the same reason. The rear seat area is huge and the Crown Vic is wider than the Charger by several inches and longer by an entire foot.

33 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Sunil Nair` Here October 16, 2015 at 15:54
    We should arrange a WRX STI vs Charger
  • 2
    Randy skiamc caledonia, mn October 28, 2015 at 15:52
    a hi-way patrolman here cought a county cop with a charger and a city cop with a ford eco boost racing at the airport one night a couple years ago. Word has it the charger won. The city cop got a leave for a while and the sheriff got flack for only a warning to county cop. I say if he won he should come out ahead.
  • 3
    Nick Washington October 28, 2015 at 16:47
    Feedback from the field is the Chargers aren't staying together although they like the power. One Ford replaced the gas tanks after documented fires due to rear end collisions, they were ok. The Tahoe is still the best. They ride better, they are safer, more room for belt equipment and Kevlar vests and last longer.
  • 4
    Bob Johnson Mayville MI October 28, 2015 at 17:23
    I would be interested in hearing from a police officer what their opinion of the Charger is. Snow and ice on the roads might make that Taurus and Explorer look pretty good.
  • 5
    Dennis Arizona October 28, 2015 at 17:50
    I love cop cars and have since seeing the Blues Brothers 35 years ago. I'd love a Charger, but they just don't hold up. There are lots of 150,000-+ mile Crown Vics auctioned with "No noted deficiencies" and every 100,000 mile Charger I've seen has heavy mechanical (engine noise, Bad transmission) and suspension issues.
  • 6
    Pete Southern Md October 28, 2015 at 17:51
    I will take the Taurus Police Interceptor. Faster and better handling than Dodge ever thought about. Also kicks the Vic's butt .
  • 7
    Alan Bateman North Bend WA October 28, 2015 at 17:52
    My company outfits police cars and the winner by far is the Ford Police Interceptor Utility (Explorer). Charger doesn't even come close. Looks good, but eats brakes and has other problems.
  • 8
    AMCman Toledo,OH October 28, 2015 at 17:54
    You are comparing Apples to Oranges My Highway patrol son-in-law could not wait to get their Hemis who cares about perp comfort anyway. Fords do have a weight advantage.
  • 9
    Jere russo S C October 28, 2015 at 18:19
    The Charger has it over all the police vehicles. It looks mean. The others look like someone is out for a leisurely Sunday cruise
  • 10
    Ken KY October 28, 2015 at 18:25
    Drove an interceptor for 12 years. It went like a scalded ape, stopped on a dime and gave you nine cents change, and the steering was so good you could thread a needle with it at 80MPH. Fantastic car!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 11
    MJ CT October 28, 2015 at 18:34
    Chargers look real tough BUT the front suspension does not handle police work. Many department are now going with the Ford POLICE UTILITIES(Explorer) , more room in back, or the Chevy Caprice.
  • 12
    Cory Pacific Northwest October 28, 2015 at 18:47
    As LE for 20 years, the Crown Vic is a much better vehicle then the Dodge. The Dodge is small, hard to see out of and goes through brakes, motor mounts and other parts.
  • 13
    Steve S New Jersey October 28, 2015 at 19:00
    The first version of the police package charger proved to be decent, but it seems 2010 or newer is having real engine problems(hemi). Also, I have seen a couple police cars where the driver door has fallen off. The metal is tearing at the hinges.
  • 14
    Chris Hueytown Al October 28, 2015 at 19:13
    The Charger does not compare in handling to the CVPI either. The Charger walks off on the straight but the CVPI quickly catches up in the curves.
  • 15
    Gary L. Green Quinton, VA October 28, 2015 at 19:48
    On a scale of 1-10 for performance, handling and the intimidation factor, in my estimation the Crown Vic scores 5 and the Charger a 10.
  • 16
    Bjorn oklahoma city October 28, 2015 at 19:49
    When it comes to reliability The Crown vicis by far the winner . The cost to keep a Charger on the road is over double of the Crow vic. just a few things that goes wrong before 50k is . Front suspension radius arm bushings, tie rods, lower control arms, pretty much the whole front suspension. 2009 and up has problems with the cam and lifters wearing out. Have replaced it on multiple cars with 60-70k. Radiator cooling fans coming apart and takes out the radiator, and more. I work on a fleet with Crown vics and Chargers and I would newer buy a charger, but I would like a Crown vic
  • 17
    Dennis Bolin Greenbrae,CA October 28, 2015 at 20:00
    The Charger's are junk I don't have anything against them but all the Police Departments in Marin are going to the Explorer or the Taurus Police Interceptor and getting rid of there Charger's to many problems with them. The Police Officer I've talk to wish they still had the Crown Vic
  • 18
    Vince Marchisotto GREENSBORO NC October 28, 2015 at 20:01
    FORD could have dropped a 5.4 Cobra engine in but did not ! Never know Y. It would have been a hell of a ride ! That said the new 365 hp 4 wd Taurus is reported 2 B a rocketship.
  • 19
    William Ramage Louisville, Ohio October 28, 2015 at 20:39
    In 1964,I purchased (new) a Galaxie 500 with the Police Intercepter 390 CID, 330 HP, "P" code on the nameplate). With the original 3 speed manual and OD, still runs like a clock, but only on nice days. Indeed, a solid car with over 100K miles on it. wlr
  • 20
    R C Minn. October 29, 2015 at 13:13
    Up here in the snow belt, rear wheel drive cars are next to worthless. Snow and especially ice will stop them cold. They fair better on the interstate which is "usually" clear, but driving on state, county, and township roads handicaps them a lot. Up here the car of choice seems to be the Ford Explorer. It has 4WD, making it MUCH better for police and sheriff departments.
  • 21
    John C Cargill Hanover Park October 29, 2015 at 13:24
    It is not uncommon around my neighborhood to see Crown Vics that were once obviously police cars, then cabs, and are now being driven as daily drivers. It is interesting to speculate how many miles they have on them. Also as Panthers go, Limos with half a million miles are common. Most of the departments around here are replacing the Crown Vics with the Explorer, not the Taurus. Most of the cabs are Jap stuff, although I've seen some Escapes. My problem is If I had to take a cab, A Corolla would be a tight fit. I drive a Passat, now that would make a good cab because of the immense rear seat room.
  • 22
    H Mola Washington State October 29, 2015 at 14:53
    I doubt that any car will ever live up to the durability of the Crown Vic
  • 23
    Hank Florida October 29, 2015 at 15:44
    I had an 05 Crown Vic Interceptor, bought it at auction for $4,000 with 100k miles and drove it until it blew the engine at 270,000 miles. Never put a dollar in that car other than routine maintenance. It got 21 mpg city/highway mix. Great cars.
  • 24
    Tom Lendt Des Moines, IA October 29, 2015 at 20:23
    Ask the guys that service them. The Charger is a heap. Typical Mopar tranny failures and no warranty coverage.
  • 25
    Demolishboy Baltimore October 29, 2015 at 21:50
    How the heck did they fail to mention the new Caprice? It's boring looking and kind of small but has a stonking big 6L V8 (not really that much horsepower though). It has to be artificially limited to 130MPH. Maryland State Police are driving them but I haven't heard any feedback. I concur with Jalopyman's assessment of the V8 Diplomat though. Of the 1980's and 90's police cars I patrolled in, my favs were the Diplomat (tail happy in the rain though), the last year of the square Caprice and the Bronco in that order. Barreling down a crowded highway at 85MPH in a Bronco with it hobby horsing over every tar strip really gets the adrenaline going!
  • 26
    Scott Erie Michigan October 29, 2015 at 10:20
    I bought a new 2000 Crown Vic it now has 400,300.00 miles on it and have only replace the alternator, front wheel bearings and the normal maintenance.
  • 27
    Jalopyman Ohio October 29, 2015 at 12:20
    In my 34 years as a police officer I've been assigned many cars, most of then Crown Vics. For a large car the CV's were always very easy to maneuver in the city, and an overall nice car to work out of. The old body style Impalas before the Jelly Bean shapes were good. BUT the best car I was ever assigned was a brand new unmarked Dodge Diplomat, 318 police package. That car was great, good size, reliable and comfortable to work out of. Oh and it was faaast. Turned it in with over 90K trouble free miles, and the garage foreman grabbed it and put another 50K on it before it got T-boned. Sorry to see the Crown Vics go.
  • 28
    BO PA October 29, 2015 at 00:27
    Ford developed the perfect car in the Crown Vic. Thin they stopped makeing it. Somone should tell them to start makeing it again.It makes the new Linclon look like a roller skate you cant compair the new Linclon ride with Crown Vic
  • 29
    Jim W. Suburban Detroit October 30, 2015 at 16:35
    Owned a 1982 Chevy Impala 9C1 ex-police car. Drove it 50K trouble free miles and sold it to a Chevy dealer service employee for what I paid for it! Great car! Recently bought a 2013 Caprice PPV with the 6 liter engine. Had 66 miles on it and was never titled/put in service! It has surprising interior room, goes like a rabbit and handles very well! It also is very fond of fuel, rides like a buckboard and decidedly lacks sufficient insulation from road/tire noise. It's my "mid-life crisis hot rod," a few years late, and fun to drive for short distances.
  • 30
    Dan K Grand Rapids, MI November 7, 2015 at 22:40
    Kent County SD tried Chevy Caprice after many years of Crown Vic. Deputies liked them but were a little small with all equipment/gear and are now ordering Tahoe. Have heard of problems with Chargers after some time in service.
  • 31
    Carl D Marysville, PA December 12, 2015 at 17:59
    Now getting into another aspect of this discussion; Why the hell do the cops want to look scary and 'mean' to the tune of "we'll bash your freaking skulls MF'ers"? If you need a car to tell the perps you require respect what the hell do we have you for?? My uncle went from patrolman to Chief of police and was a lead in the community policing. He was one of the good cops that dealt with people and they dealt with the problems so the cops need not be the freaking vigilantes of "Magnum Force'' notoriety. Otherwise the FORD always out does the others in quality! Those CV's are great cars and back in the day when they came out with the front wheel drive in Massachusetts they sent them back to be re-manufactured to be able to do reverse roll outs and hole shots. Ford just has a better idea!
  • 32
    Alex Ohio March 29, 2016 at 22:26
    I work on a small department with 4 vehicles: a 2008 Vic, '12 Charger, '13 Charger, and a new Ford SUV. The Chargers haul the mail like raped apes with a top end that would make other gearheads jealous, but that's about it. I'm one of the smaller officers on the dept at 5'11" and 200lbs and I'm the only comfortable one driving them. Both Dodges have had complete engine, brake, and suspension replacements before 40k miles (about 20k miles/year). The front ends still shake like a dog shitting razor blades whenever you top 60 mph. We now argue over who gets to drive the Fords. The Vic won't win any beauty pageants or drag races, but it takes any abuse you can dish out with a smirk and a kung fu movie "come at me, bro" hand gesture. My only gripe is having to reach approximately 5 feet to reach the radio buttons on the dash. The SUV is everything to everyone and gets passed around like a hookah at Willie Nelson's house. I don't feel like there have been enough pursuit modifications to the Charger to merit special use. My next family vehicle was gonna be a Charger, but having driven them for a few years at work, Dodge won't ever get a penny out of me. Avoid them if you want to do anything besides look good and accelerate.
  • 33
    Ray North Carolina September 19, 2016 at 11:21
    Crown Vic's supply more room for duty gear, as well as supplies needed for work from the front seat to the trunk. Perp space in the back seat is a null point if you have a half-cage in your vehicle. Crown Vic doesn't have the pick up speed from 0-40 like the Charger, but from 40+ the Crown Vics move just as well. Crown Vic also has better handling capabilities. From a department stand point, the longevity of the Crown Vic is FAR SUPERIOR to the Charger. As a LEO, I have drove both and prefer the Vic for every day patrol.

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