SAVANNAH, GA (May 1, 2013): Metro Police cars may have a new look in the near future when the department replaces 103 marked vehicles with Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs.

The City of Savannah is taking bids on the vehicles to replace ageing Ford Crown Victorias with as many as 160,000 miles on them and are no longer dependable and are too expensive to maintain.

The Tahoe was selected by the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department from the models available for police use because of its functionality, price and gas mileage.

Since Ford announced the discontinuation of the Crown Victoria line that was the mainstay of most police departments, Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge have offered different models redesigned for police work.

SCMPD tested the Chevrolet Caprice and Ford Interceptors over the past two years and the Chevrolet became the vehicle of choice. Unfortunately, the number of departments making that choice forced General Motors to shut down the production line to retool and the Caprices will not be available until December or January of 2014.

“We need the vehicles now,” said Police Chief Willie Lovett. “While the Caprice was desirable, the Tahoe offers better room, stability, performance and, surprisingly, cost. The only downside may be the public’s perception that it costs more initially and costs more to operate. Studies in departments that have been using them since 2007 prove otherwise.”

The Tahoe also has become desirable for the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office which has utilized them for several years and plans to request 15 more in the next week, according to Sheriff Al St Lawrence. He authored a letter co-signed by Lovett supporting the purchase of the SUVs addressed to both County Manager Russ Abolt and City Manager Stephanie Cutter.

Lovett pointed out that the Tahoe may appear the same as civilian versions but it is vastly different. These vehicles are pursuit-rated with very few of the accessories that drive the cost of civilian versions. Their Active Fuel Management system allows the engines to run on fewer than eight cylinders until more power is needed. That allows it to offer better gas mileage than the Crown Vics.

The Tahoes also offer more equipment storage and higher ground clearance as well as room for transporting suspects.