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2007 Dodge Charger Police Pack Road Test

Automotive columnist: , Updated:

Fightin' crime with style

My heart skips a beat every time I see one of these vehicles.
There isn't much that's more intimidating than a police car. Every time we cross paths with one, we stare into our rearview mirror, our heart beating like a drum, just to see if it's chasing you... even though we did nothing wrong. At least, that's what I do when I see one.

When I saw this Charger in Chrysler's parking lot, I immediately saw myself in hot pursuit, tracking down bandits and imposing the law in the town I live in. However, once I finally sat down in this car, I was heartbroken; no siren, no strobe lights, no wigwag headlights. You see, this Charger is available for police departments and corporate fleets, as they can try it out for a possible purchase.

A functional cockpit
The dashboard looks like the one in a regular Charger, besides one thing: the shift lever is mounted on the right of the steering wheel instead of the on the center console. The lever's location doesn't make it very easy to use, but space is required for the police's equipment between the two seats. The latter are the same ones as in the SXT model I tested in the fall of 2005, and the driver's seat is power-adjustable (optional).

Vinyl is easier than cloth to maintain.
In back, the bench has vinyl upholstery and the floor is covered in rubber. Let's not take any chances here, since felons sitting in back that we're bringing to the station probably won't hesitate spreading their filth in the car. This way, it's much easier to clean.

The roof of the car is relatively low, so arrogant cops will have fun banging the heads of crooks they're forcing to sit in back. BANG! "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm not quite used to the Charger yet; the roofline was higher in my old Crown Vic."

Nothing intimidating under the hood (of this car, anyway)
Firing up the engine of this car for the first time, its sound was bad news, since it wasn't the roar of the HEMI. Oh well. It doesn't matter, because the 3.5-liter V6 is up to the task, and besides police departments that patrol the long and deserted highways of California, others will opt for the V6. And, as a taxpayer, I'd be frustrated to get stopped by a Charger powered by a fuel-consuming V8.

The 3.5L V6 moves the car fairly easily with the help of the 5-speed autobox.
The 5-speed automatic works the same way as the one in the regular Charger, but the AutoStick manual mode isn't easy to use at all; it's operated with a tiny rocker switch on the edge of the shift lever, so it's pretty clumsy. You can't even use the switch without letting go of the wheel with your right hand.

The cop Charger seemed heavier than the SXT. That's easily explained by certain mechanical components that are bigger or most robust. In the line of duty, the car must be solid and shouldn't cost a fortune to maintain and repair.

Oil, transmission and power steering coolers, a heavy-duty cooling system, a bigger battery, stability and traction control systems, and 18-inch wheels; all these things add weight. As a result, acceleration times are a smidge slower than those of the Charger SXT, but acceptable nonetheless.