The Chrysler Group may have its problems, but, when it comes to service vehicles, they are on a roll. Dodge already makes the fastest fleet police car in the United States –the Charger Pursuit – and now they might just make the most versatile: the Dodge Durango Special Service.
Dodge is already so proud of its 2014 Dodge Durango that it hired renowned journalist Ron Burgandy as a pitchman. The Special Service edition might just be deserving of an appearance by RoboCop.
The Special Service gets a beefed up cooling system, with a larger oil cooler and a water pump that could double as a fire hose. This will help keep the truck running during high speed pursuits – and in everyday driving conditions when it is loaded down with a thousand pounds of equipment, gear and doughnuts.
Maybe even more importantly for the day-to-day work of law enforcement and other emergency services is the beefed up electrical system. Computers, lights, sirens and on board cameras all take juice, and most standard 12-volt electrical systems just aren’t up to the job. That’s why Dodge fitted a 220-volt alternator and a battery that could have come off of a U-boat.
The third row seats can be removed to make room for equipment, a friendly – or not – police dog, and any number of ne’er-do-wells.
Cops and firemen can also enjoy customized programming on the seven-inch instrument display, as well as five- and eight-inch Uconnect touchscreens. Hopefully these can replace some of the bulky computers normally bolted into service vehicles, and not just be used to provide in-car entertainment for bored civil servants.
Engine options are the same as the standard Durango, with either the excellent Pentastar V6 or the aging but powerful HEMI V8. The HEMI may be able to punch out 360 horsepower, enough to tow 7,600 pounds, but I am guessing that most municipalities are going to shy away from spending tax payer money to continuously shovel gas into the hungry maw of the V8.
The eight-speed automatic comes with paddle shift as standard, so even the lowliest of rookies can live out their Formula One fantasies through the corners.
Despite an impressive lineup of features and specs, the Charge Special Service does have some strong competition.
The Explorer-based Ford Police Interceptor Utility may not pack as much of a punch, but it does come with some fancy upgrades of its own. Officers driving the Interceptor Utility get an upgraded suspension, a fully remappable version of SYNC voice-command system, and stab-proof plates in the front seats to prevent unwilling rear seat occupants from getting to frisky.
For a market that has been almost exclusively dominated by the Crown Victoria for nearly 20 years, cops must be reveling in choice.