If Judge Dredd had to drive a modern day cop car, this is what he would probably roll in. Maybe not with all the lights or POLICE decals, but definitely in a suped-up Charger. The thought of seeing Dredd arriving on the scene in a Crown Vic doesn’t necessarily bring forth images of communism-preaching terrorists running for shelter. But looking over this latest incarnation of Dodge’s Mopar-equipped baddie basher invokes a certain feeling of, what’s the term I’m looking for… ass kicking authority.
This latest offering from the guys over at FCA takes a regular 2016 sedan and then turns it into “the best-performing pursuit-rated vehicle” by outfitting it with tons of tactical equipment and technology. The resulting Dodge Charger Pursuit, which have been used over the years by government agencies as fleet vehicles, hit all 370 authoritative horses and feature a factory-installed Mopar upfit package — the long arm of the law just got a little buffer, and it’s not just the car’s performance or tricky AWD setup that is making the boys in blue fawn over this thing.
According to Dodge’s press release, the latest line-up of law enforcement smackdown machines are going to have a seriously slick interior upgrade, and while it was inevitably going to happen at some point, seeing Elon Musk’s vertical, Tesla-style center touch screen in a rugged cop car just seems… odd. But there’s a good reason why it’s here, and, while it surprises us that luxury automakers are lagging behind Dodge of all manufacturers, it makes complete sense to see one of these vehicles rocking a fully functional and extremely utilitarian center console from the future.
Nevertheless, safety and security remain the top priority when the new Pursuit was engineered. The one-off Uconnect 12.1 center stack screen was conceived with the help of a team of law-enforcement specialists, along with feedback from the field, where a common complaint about vehicles being overrun with displays, mounting brackets, and keyboards that compromise both comfort and safety if a collision occurs. Studies show that these computers can also do serious bodily harm if hit at the right angle, and can even interfere with airbag deployment during a crash. Officers also complained that all of the various technologies were distracting, and that “the ergonomics designed into the vehicle’s controls and even touchscreen displays were hindered by the installation of these bulky devices.”
Something had to be done. So Dodge rallied to this calling for a more streamlined, safer approach to policing by taking an already approved fleet vehicle, and giving it the center console of the future, Judge Dredd style.
The development of the 2016 Dodge Charger Pursuit’s all-new Uconnect touchscreen system was a team effort that involved a 19-member Police Advisory Board (PAB), and was originally tested back in 2012 when prototypes were issued to members of the Los Angeles Police Department. Once enough favorable reviews had reached FCA’s ear, it was time to implement a full-blown proposal to our nation’s government, for this new set-up is designed from the ground up to be the ultimate, all-in-one tech device.
Now that it has been approved for production, this clever cruiser will feature a few firsts for America’s law enforcement officials including the use of data systems that tap into the previously mentioned Uconnect touchscreen (which has been specially redesigned for police use). Once officers familiarize themselves with the interface they will be able to toggle between vehicle controls and plug-and-play police-designed computer systems on the fly, and unlike third-party systems which require the use of bulky, center-mounted computers, this setup will not obstruct the driver or passenger’s air bags.
Bluetooth connectivity is available for mobile devices and streaming songs (like Anthrax’s “I Am the Law”) and there is a ParkView rear back-up camera in place to ensure civilian safety. There’s also a Drag and Drop menu bar, Siri Eyes Free, an SD Card slot, Do Not Disturb features, and additional USB and auxiliary ports. Joni Christensen, head of Uconnect Marketing, made a remark that this platform was designed this way in order to offer officers a way to adapt to the Uconnect system by “making it even easier to keep their hand on the wheel and eyes on the road.”
The screen’s oversized 1024- by 768-pixel display can be split into dual 640- by 480-pixel screens, so that multiple reports can be loaded simultaneously, while vehicle controls for radio, climate, and such remain well out of the way beneath the Uconnect system. The driver will also have the ability to use any combination of switches on the back of the steering wheel, along with voice commands, touchscreen responses, or analog knobs and buttons to keep order within the cabin.
Built from the ground up to be as user friendly as possible, the Uconnect 12.1 features what FCA calls a “plug-and-play solution” that fluidly connects an officer’s mobile computer to the center stack without having to remove it from the trunk, and can even be used by an officer wearing gloves. This way, extreme operating conditions that dip as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit or soar above 185 degrees can still be handled appropriately with the proper hand protection. An additional fourth auxiliary button on the steering-wheel makes any future installation of additional LED, lighting, siren, computer, modem, or camera systems a cinch. The 2016 Dodge Charger Pursuit will become available for pre-ordering in January, and production will begin that March so that the Chief Judge can surprise Dredd with one for his birthday.