St. Petersburg, Florida goes with Crown Vic in mass purchase of patrol cars


May 21, 2010
St. Petersburg goes with Crown Vic in mass purchase of patrol cars

By Michael Van Sickler, Times Staff Writer

In Print: Friday, January 7, 2011

ST. PETERSBURG — The Crown Victoria gets such poor gas mileage that Ford is discontinuing the popular model this year.

But that didn't stop the City Council on Thursday from ordering a curtain call, agreeing to buy 86 Crown Vics at a total cost of $2.1 million.

The purchase of the cars, used widely by national law enforcement, will replace 61 Crown Vics that have reached the end of the line. It also will provide 25 more cars for officers who don't already have take-home vehicles. The cars are 2011 models.

With the purchase of a tried-and-true model, the city avoids a debacle like last year when the newly ordered Chevy Impalas turned out to be too small to provide space for the cage that separates officers and prisoners.

Still, council member Karl Nurse said the purchase of the Crown Vics seemed to violate the spirit of an executive order by former Mayor Rick Baker, which aimed at buying city vehicles that are fuel-efficient.

"The Crown Vic is the least efficient vehicle in its class," Nurse said.

In 2009, when the City Council approved more than $1.1 million to buy 47 Chevy Impalas, a lighter car, for the police department, Nurse declared it a triumph for the environment.

"This is the first time that we've followed the mayor's order to buy the most fuel-efficient vehicle available," Nurse said.

The Police Department all along had maintained that it bought the Impalas because they were cheaper, not as a sop for environmentalists. Mayor Bill Foster said the Impalas were an experiment.

"We'd prefer not to experiment again with those," he said. "The Crown Vic isn't the most fuel-efficient, but it's the most fuel-efficient that meets their needs."

Foster said Baker's executive order said the city should buy fuel-efficient vehicles "when reasonably feasible." The Crown Vic meets city standards because it's the most practical vehicle available to the police.

Considered to be durable, affordable, and a high-performing vehicle, the Crown Vic is popular with police and taxicab fleet managers. Other models will be considered in the future, said police Chief Chuck Harmon. He said the Impalas were only getting one more mile per gallon.

According to, the Crown Victoria gets 16 mpg in the city and 24 on the highway. An Impala with a 3.9 liter engine gets 17 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway.

"We obviously know now the pitfalls with the Impalas," Harmon said. "What I still promise is that we'll look at the Chevy (Caprice) and the Dodge (Charger) when we do a comprehensive look."

Harmon said the Impalas are being used by the department, just not by anyone with patrol duties.

Harmon had the full support of council members, who mostly applauded the decision.

"You guys have to get what you need," council member Bill Dudley told Harmon. "I'm not saying we should get gas hogs, but you should get what will protect the officers. I think the Impala looks like a police car with training wheels. It's so small. Crown Vics are the standard. You need to do what you need to do."

I love it! The Impala gets its ass handed to it in the article! Great article!


New Member
Jun 9, 2010
Palatka, Florida.
I got to agree with this. I've talked to a sheriffs deputy here in my county and he hates those Impalas. Too small, and you can push on the door panel and it will bend. Cheap junk.

NPS Ranger

May 21, 2010
Penn's Woods
Any extra cost for fuel will probably be paid back by being able to reuse all those consoles/partitions custom made for Crown Vics instead of having to buy all new stuff. Sounds like a good idea to me.

"The Crown Vic isn't the most fuel-efficient, but it's the most fuel-efficient that meets their needs."


May 21, 2010
another victory for ford i guess,too bad they are stopping production of the vic,i do not see many caprices or impalas around my area other than detectives or admin cars. other than that i have seen a couple chargers


Dec 18, 2010
USA, South Dakota
"I think the Impala looks like a police car with training wheels. It's so small."

He said it all. I looked at other vehicles for private use such as suzuki honda and other mid sized car and my frame does not fit in the driver's seat nor do I have enough room for my legs. Don Myhre


May 20, 2010
Maryland, USA
Yea, our department went with Impalas for the 2010 fleet. I was eligible to trade in my 2007 crown vic, but when I found out I could get a sparkling new Impala.... I decided to keep my crappy crown vic. The Impala is a JOKE as far as I am concerned. I am 6-04 250 lbs... I had a new Impala for a 2 months while my Ford was in the shop and it was a nightmare. That thing is tiny, slow and clunky...


May 20, 2010
I love my Impala. It's the fastest car on my shift (rest being 03, 06, and 08 CVPI's), handles well, and doesn't warn driver's at night that I'm running radar with 'cop head lights'. About the only thing I don't like is the small trunk space.


May 23, 2010
Central Florida
I've been in an Impala since '03, my current '07 works great for me, no complaints, I take it home and it comes with a County gas card. However it looks like when I switch out next year, it will be into a Caprice.

Fast LT1

New Member
May 24, 2010
Sedgwick County, KS
I have yet to be really pleased with anything since the 96 Caprice/ Impala SS! IMO the best police car ever made!


May 21, 2010
Long Island, NY
I really love my Impala, but there is something to be said for a RWD Crown Vic...just the handling characteristics alone (oversteering vs under) make me feel warm and fuzzy. But then again, snow on the ground makes me enjoy rolling right past those stuck cars!


May 20, 2010
Grand Prairie Texas
LOL, they said the crown vic is a high performance vehicle. Compared to what? It's the slowest ppv on the market. No patrol vehicle is going to get good gas mileage, the idle time, and start stop driving will drag those numbers down everytime. In Dallas patrol officers are satisfied if the car starts and the ac works, so the charges don't start and the impalas are hot.

John Smith

Oct 19, 2010
16mpg city? Our's don't get that on the highway. Our CVPI's average right at 10mpg, which is a mix of about 75% city, 25% highway. We've got 2001-2010s, the aggessive vesus standard rear end, and the widest spectrum of drivers. They all get 10mpg.


May 21, 2010
Northeast Ohio
I get so tired, of hearing departments complain that cages don't fit. Obviously they either did not try very hard at all, or are using 25 year old equipment. Anything made since 2000, pretty much has kits to fit an impala, charger, or CVPI. Someone in ST Petes is using whatever justification they can, to blow a huge wad of money. I've used CVPI, Impalas, Chargers, Explorers and Escapes. I do prefer rear wheel drive, but its not something that is needed for police work-its purely a preference. And, anymore, you have to spend more time teaching the new kids how to drive rear wheel drive, then you do getting us old farts used to front wheel drive.

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