AUGUSTA — The blue lights you may see in your rearview mirror will be the same, but the cruiser behind them has a whole new look.

The Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office recently took delivery of three 2012 Dodge Chargers, which marks the agency’s first steps in rotating out its fleet Chevrolet Impalas.

The Dodges, which are black to the Impalas’ white, have a decidedly muscular look that quickly set them apart from the Impala. Also, the old ones are white and the new ones are black.

“Until in-service use proves otherwise, we are very pleased with this vehicle,” said Capt. Daniel Davies of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office.

Kennebec County has had Impala cruisers for at least nine years, Davies said. The county, like agencies throughout the region, switched to a new make and model vehicle this year after Chevy decided to discontinue production of the Impala. Ford, meanwhile, no longer makes the Crown Victoria, which also were popular with law enforcement agencies.

Maine State Police, which used Crown Victoria cruisers since 1996, settled on the Interceptor, which are based on the Ford Taurus. The first Interceptors are expected to go into service this summer.

Augusta Police Chief Robert Gregoire said his department, too, is switching from the Crown Victoria to the Interceptor.

Davies said the sheriff’s office thought about switching to the Interceptor and the Chevy Caprice. The former proved too small when outfitted with a divider cage and the latter was too expensive, Davies said.

The Chargers cost $26,300, not including equipment specific to law enforcement. That was the cheapest of the three options considered, and was about $2,000 less than the Interceptor option, Davies said.

“The Dodge, for our application, was the best bang for the buck,” he said.

The Charger comes with a 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty. Davies said the cruiser typically exceed 100,000 miles over a three-year cycle.

The charges come with V8 engines, but run on just four cylinders during cruise and idle times, Davies said. The sheriff’s office contacted a number of agencies that use the Charger before making a decision, Davies said.

“Based on the survey this was our best option,” he said. “While there were problems with the initial re-design of the Charger a few years ago, the new police versions have been engineered to perform to expectations to include comfort and handling.”

This story was updated at 12 p.m., on Aug. 16, 2012, to correct the price difference between the Charger and Interceptor

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