Police cars may well be one of the most underrated types of vehicles on the planet. It’s easy to dismiss them as just another type of car with just some sirens bolted on top. But that’s exactly what the police want folks to believe. The reality is that police cars are tougher, faster, and more dependable than regular cars in many different ways. It makes sense, too, given that they have to be on the road constantly and face actual danger.
One only needs to watch the numerous TV shows of real police car chases to see what kinds of situations such a car has to handle. Thus, a police car needs to be prepared for any street, weather, or emergency. It helps they also have scores of nifty gadgets and details that even the most high-end luxury cars don’t have. Indeed, many features of a police car are banned from standard vehicles due to how advanced they are, since only police need those capabilities.
There can also be the advanced technologies involved and how certain modification tricks can really improve the car’s performance. There’s even how cop cars can get away with things from outlandish colors to other motifs thanks to the police force's unique needs. From the way they’re built to how they perform, here are 20 ways police cars are better than regular ones and why any gearhead would love to take a cop car out for a good spin.
20 Camera Coverage
Today, many average cars are equipped with cameras at the rear to aid in parking and driving. That may seem like a great advancement but police cars put them to shame. They were using cameras long before standard cars and have gone from just dashcams to nearly 360-degree surveillance on their cars. There’s also how some cop cars can connect via wireless to traffic cams to keep an eye on cars. To top it all off, there’s now a push for cars that can utilize drones with cameras to follow suspects or get the lay of the land. As advanced as some regular cars are, police vehicles can be more camera-ready than a TV news van.
19 A Real Battering Ram Front
A myth of the movies that just doesn’t seem to fade away is how any car can be used as a battering ram. It happens a lot, with cars smashing through gates and fences with ease. In real life, such a move leads to a seriously messed up front end. However, police cars can actually pull this move off better. Many car hoods are specially fortified (a few with high-strength grills) so they can break through any sort of obstacle in front of them. It also allows a police car to take a collision much better and keep the passengers much safer than in a regular car. While it may not be a tank, a police car can pull off such moves better than regular ones.
18 GPS Launcher
This may sound like something the Batmobile or another comic book vehicle could do. But sure enough, right now on the roads, there are police cars that have figured out a great way to keep track of speeding motorists. Located in the front grille is a device that will fire off a mini-GPS tracker that will instantly attach itself to another car. Thus, instead of wasting hours and fuel and risking their lives on a lengthy chase, the police can just hang back and track them down later. It’s also a good way to help a stranded car by giving the satellites a way to fix onto their location quickly. As fanciful as it sounds, it’s becoming more common and is a truly cool addition.
17 Great Suspension
One of the biggest benefits of police cars is that they require far less maintenance than regular automobiles. That includes the suspension, which is toughened up to handle the requirements of a job. Highway patrol vehicles need to be on the road constantly and often become involved in some major chases. As such, a police car boasts a very high-end suspension system that can take far more damage than a regular car could. While police don’t get into the huge stunt-packed chases of the movies, they can take punishment that would break a normal suspension system down. Thus, they have suspension systems most car owners could only dream of.
16 Great Seating
The back of a cop car is not a comfortable place to be. It actually has a little upholstery, just in case anyone gets sick in the back. But the officer himself has a pretty good place to sit. It makes sense because they spend the majority of the day in their car and having them be constantly uncomfortable would be a distraction that the police don’t need. The front driver and passenger seats always have good cushioning and even some leather to make sure the cops can handle themselves well after hours on the road. That’s especially true in newer models. The back may be bad but the front seat of a cop car has some pretty nice seating.
15 Upgraded Coolers
We’re not talking about the air conditioning—although a police car does have a better version of that, too. Given how long they’re on the road and how often they're put through some pretty wild situations, a police car’s radiator might be prone to overheating a lot. But the cops have another advantage that regular cars don’t, in the form of top-level cooling apparatus to ensure the radiator’s temperature is balanced. The sight of a cop car pulled over by a smoking radiator is one the police don’t want citizens to see. This also ties into how cop cars have are more reliable than regular automobiles.
14 Better Locks
It’s not too surprising a lot of dubious characters accept the challenge of trying to rip off a police car. After all, the idea of messing with the cops can be appealing and the cars themselves are amazing. But oftentimes, too late, these thieves discover the hard way how bad an idea this is. Most cars have simple locks and alarms but police vehicles, naturally, take it to the next level. Many have such security features as requiring a special key to open and operate while others are so sensitive that just touching the locked car can set them off. Newer models have special sensors warning of intruders and some surprises if the bad guy actually gets the car open. Any regular drivers wishes they had this level of security.
13 Easy Maintenance
There’s a reason why the Crown Victoria was the go-to vehicle for police forces for so long. It’s not because of its speed and handling—which were solid—so much as the maintenance. Or rather, the lack thereof. Police cars naturally experience a lot of wear and tear being on the road constantly during the daytime. That’s without issues such as high-speed chases, going into dangerous areas, or other problems. The reliability stats for these cars are very good and they don’t need as many tune-ups or replacements as other cars. Some can last decades and all they need is some fresh paint to be good as new. That a cop car needs nowhere near the usual mechanic stops of a regular car makes it very popular for collectors.
12 Can Go 21 Miles Without Gas
While there’s still some resistance to the electric car craze, police forces are actually embracing it. After all, if anyone could use less time at the pump, it’s the police; running out of fuel in a chase is not a good thing. Ford is pushing it with their Fusion Energi hybrid, which can be plugged in and charged. That means it can go 21 miles without the need for more fueling or plugging in once more. The ability to go long distances without filling up is something a lot of drivers would love to have—and Dubai's Porsche 918 hybrid takes things to the next level. The police are leading the way in how these electric cars can be the future of transportation.
11 The Run Lock
The battery can be an overlooked but vital part of a car. A key sign something is wrong is when the keys are removed from the ignition yet the battery keeps it running for a few minutes. That’s generally a signal it needs to be replaced. Police cars, however, are different, as they have what’s called the run lock function. Which means that even with keys out, the battery will run with no damage for the vehicle. This makes it easier for the officer to exit the car when pulling someone over or checking on a location. When they reenter, they don’t need to start it up again but just drive on. It’s a function quite a few drivers wish they could possess for everyday life.
10 Ventilated Trunks
One of the problems of putting something in the trunk is worrying about its condition. That’s especially true for coolers or electronic devices which can overheat in a trunk during a long trip on a hot day. Police cars don’t have that problem because their trunks are ventilated to keep the interior cool in any setting. That’s needed thanks to all the electronics they have inside. There’s also the nice fold-out shelves that can hold more equipment than a standard trunk. Given all that, it’s no surprise that a police car trunk boasts tricks that many regular car owners only wish their rides possessed.
9 Cooler Dashboard
If someone gets behind the wheel of a police car, they’ll instantly notice that the dashboard is much different than that in a regular car. For one thing, there’s an hour meter which tracks the amount of time the car is on the road and often used instead of a speedometer. There’s also the obvious addition of the dashcam, a mainstay of police long before cameras in cars were a common thing. Even more than most regular cars, police vehicles are shifting up to streamlined dashes and even using some Tesla-type single screens for information. After all, police have to be on top of the latest turns in technology and thus, their dashboards have a look unlike other cars on the market.
8 Rumbler Siren
There are too many times another driver will ignore someone even if their horn is blaring loudly. A police car does have the bonus of loud sirens to get someone’s attention easily. However, the police also have the “rumbler” siren to catch another driver’s ear. It actually does far more than a normal siren, as the rumbler emits a powerful wave that can actually cause another car to shake hard. It’s been implemented in Omaha and is starting to spread out to various other states. It’s a great boon because it’s harder for a driver to ignore their entire car suddenly shaking for no reason. Given how some modern cars have sound systems that can be so loud that they drown out sirens, the rumbler is a great idea.
7 Kevlar Covering
A major myth of movies is that a car can block just about anything that comes at you. The reality is that most objects can, in fact, easily break through any regular car’s frame and doors and cause some damage. But police cars are far tougher. The interior doors and even the trunk are lined with Kevlar. While the idea of Kevlar being impenetrable is another myth, it does provide a major line of protection against many threats. Thus, police can take refuge behind a door of their car and have it offer some protection. It’s not a force field, to be sure. but it does provide a level of safety a lot of car owners wish they had.
6 They Can Do High-Speed Pursuit
Cops love to joke about how, in 2019, there are still people who think they can easily outrace a police car. Too many racers make the mistake of thinking their high-speed machines can easily outpace what looks like a weaker car. They fail to realize that most police cars are holding back during their regular drives but can cut loose when in pursuit. Dubai has begun introducing cars that can top out at 253 mph. Yet, even most cars in the United States can do some serious speeds. And that’s not to mention that officers are well trained in pursuit for tricks that most racers don’t know. Contrary to what the movies say, outrunning a cop car isn’t easy.
5 Computer Center
Long before the internet as we knew it existed, police cars had mini-computer centers packed into them. Police were using these computers to access databases and get information, as well as call for help back when cell phones weren’t as commonplace. As technology has advanced, police have kept on top of technology, with some very good advances with their computers. Even when a cell phone has some major computing power, it’s impressive how a police car can pack in a huge computer center and ensure that an officer has all the resources needed to handle their role in a modern world. It also just looks cool as a standard car “work station” can’t compete with the look of a police one.
4 The Shift Switch
Today, security on cars is much better. Cop cars keep having little tricks installed that make it almost impossible for a regular person to take a patrol car out for a joyride. One of the best is the shift switch button. Usually, all one needs to do is push on the shift stick to get the car out of park and ready to drive. But these cars require a special switch to be pressed in order to unlock it from park. Otherwise, no matter how the shifter moves, the car stays where it is. A smart detail is that the switch’s location can vary in different cars to make it even trickier for bad guys to find, which lends some extra security to a cop car.
3 Better Tires
Tires have improved a lot over the years from simple rubber to various materials meant to ensure long life and safety on the road. It only makes sense police cars have to have better versions. Indeed, many cop cars boast tires that even NASCAR vehicles don’t have. They mix together Kevlar and other materials to ensure they can handle being on hot roads for weeks on end with little wear. They also handle such things as running on grass and even over nails and spikes without a blowout. No matter the road or conditions, police cars have the most expensive tires imaginable which can withstand anything. No wonder most drivers would shell out extra money to get this level of tire protection.
2 The Electric Eye
Police cars have long been used to being able to communicate with databases fast. The electric eye takes it to the next level. All a modern patrol car has to do is scan the plate of another car and they’ll have an instant record of the owner and any issues they may have had. It’s a great feature for enforcement and saves the officer time figuring out someone’s problems before deciding to give them a ticket or just a warning. It’s also great to know which drivers might be a problem on the road and which are totally safe. It’s pretty much a “cop car only” feature yet it stands out nicely to showcase how the police have tricks regular drivers envy.
1 They Can Get Away With Any Color
It’s often very easy to mock a car owner for what color paint their car wears. Having it bright pink, covered in flames, or some mix of colors leads to easy jokes about a car owner’s tastes. However, it’s not as easy to mock a police car for having its colors. It doesn’t matter what hue the car may be, it still has sirens and an officer ready to go after you for violating the rules. Police cars can be just about any color imaginable and they can get away with it because who’s going to mock a cop for what shade their car is? While most police cars are a standard color, wearing a badge also means being able to pull off some fun colors.
Sources: Jalopnik, Thrillist.com, and Motor Trend.