Dodge Charger Pursuit cop cars not a technological wasteland

Sections: Infotainment, Telematics

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2013 Dodge Charger Pursuit infotainment head unit

Dodge Charger Pursuit cop cars feature this small touchscreen infotainment head unit. (Lyndon Johnson photo)

A nearby police department got some new-to-them, lightly used (for police cars) Dodge Charger Pursuits, and I was invited to take a short drive. I came away impressed with the amount of tech on-board — and I’m not talking about the lights and sirens.

The Charger is a cool car in my eyes, anyway, but it’s especially menacing in cop car trim. But for all its styling cues that say “strength,” I still figured inside it was basically a modernized version of the old Crown Vic and Chevy Impala cop cars used by many area law enforcement agencies. And those are pretty basic. AM/FM radios, seats trimmed in vinyl and/or thick fabric, and tons of hard plastics. That’s pretty much it.

The Charger pleasantly surprised me in terms of its level of interior tech features, however. There was a head unit featuring a small touchscreen that, in addition to the requisite AM/FM radio, could play your music library through an AUX or USB port and could control the car’s HVAC system. In the gauge cluster, there’s a color central display that, in addition to housing the usual trip computer and gear indicator, can tell you how many total hours and idle hours the engine has, the temperature of the transmission fluid, the oil pressure, and more.

The setup is simple, sure. But if I were a cop on the beat, it would be enough to make the Dodge Charger Pursuit my preferred patrol companion — a distinction the car’s performance attributes nearly earn it by themselves. In a world where police cars are increasingly front-wheel drive, the Dodge Charger Pursuit’s rear-wheel drive setup is both refreshing and comforting to officers who spent years driving Panther body Fords. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when that Dodge Charger Pursuit is HEMI-powered, as this particular department’s Chargers are.

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  • Tom C

    I ordered a new one for my business in 2012, and “loaded” it with all the civilian electronics available (basically, Bluetooth and power seats & pedals). Of course, I went with the Hemi.
    Compared to a Charger R/T, it’s downright Spartan… but it’s a big step up from the Ford P71 Police Interceptor it replaced. (It’s also firmer, faster and meaner-looking than a R/T).

    I might have ordered a bigger touchscreen and a better stereo if they had been available, but that’s not really why I wanted the car.

    • Lyndon Johnson

      That’s what I was thinking, Tom. Even though the small touchscreen isn’t much, compared to most of the civilian cars I test, it’s a huge leap from the truly sparse accommodations in the P71s with which I’m familiar. Our local sheriff’s department still runs a fleet of P71s, and their AM/FM head units look pretty much like the dinky double-din unit in my Ford Ranger XL. Just six preset buttons, a volume knob, and tune and scan buttons situated around a small (maybe 3×1-inch?) green-backlit liquid crystal display. I swear, my alarm clock is 20 years old and has better graphics than my truck’s radio display!