Wednesday, October 19, 2011
2011 Chevrolet Caprice PPV history and test drive review
After a 15-year hiatus, Chevrolet is finally bringing the Caprice back to the U.S. lineup. Right now, the plan is to make it available as a police fleet vehicle only for 2011-2012, but there is a decent chance that we could see it in civilian hands eventually. Let’s take a look at the Caprice in a little more depth.
The Impala carried several suspension components from the Caprice police package, sometimes referred to by the order number 9C1. Caprices had been a staple in police fleets for years, and the ’94 – ’96 versions with their LT1 power were the preferred choice of patrol officers across the country. There were so many Caprices in police service that it was hard not to associate the civilian versions with them.
Ford’s Panther platform, on which the Crown Victoria is built, has a similar history as the Caprice and is just as old. Basically the same platform as it has ridden on since 1977 (there was an upgrade to rack-and-pinion steering in 2003 that’s worth noting); the Crown Victoria continued to be sold only to police fleets. The Crown Vic carried on for many years after the Caprice’s demise, but the last car finally rolled off the assembly line last month. Ford is banking on a new Taurus-based police vehicle to take up some of the slack, but the lack of a V8 engine and the car’s front-wheel-drive-based all-wheel-drive platform may be a tough sell.
The Caprice is similar to a stretched version of the much-lauded Pontiac G8, and is powered by a Corvette-derived 6.0-liter V8 producing 355-hp. It also shares much of its platform layout with the popular new Chevrolet Camaro. The 3.6-liter, direct-injected V6 found in the Camaro is also a same-cost option.
Right now, police fleets can purchase either the Spartan 9C1 patrol unit, or a 9C3 detective’s car. The 9C3 is already much nicer, with a finished console, full wheel covers, and more accoutrements.
I can’t really talk to the quality of materials per se, because this car was sparse. There was lots of hard plastic and not much glamour in there. But it had quite a bit of room inside, and the back seat had plenty of leg room. The layout was straightforward and intuitive, and it was easy to position the seat comfortably. Of course, luxury versions of this car are sold in other parts of the world, and they are not utilitarian at all. It’s amazing what a little carpet, wood, and leather can do to alter perceptions. It wouldn’t take much.
spank my ’96 Impala SS in any kind of competitive driving test. I drove a new BMW 5-Series on the same day, and the new Caprice is in the same league. I would absolutely love to own a civilian version of this car.
For more than 40-years, the Chevrolet Caprice name has meant reliable, useful, serviceable cars. The solid foundation of the Caprice and its reputation for quality should help pave the way for the 2011 Police patrol Vehicle, and hopefully a return to the V8, rear-wheel-drive sedan to Chevrolet showrooms.
The slideshow below contains sort of a hodgepodge of Caprice-related images. You’ll see the car I drove, some GM promotional images, a few older versions of the Caprice, and a few glamour shots of this car in civilian clothes as it is sold in Australia and the Middle East. Maybe it’ll whet your appetite for an upcoming Caprice comeback. And if not, you can at least study the images so you’ll know what to look for when you meet one so you can ease your foot off the accelerator.