When Ford took the wraps off of its Taurus-based Police Interceptor sedan earlier this year, we were told that a second, utility-oriented police pursuit vehicle would be coming down the pipeline. Enter the Police Interceptor Utility, based off the 2011 Explorer crossover. A Flex-styled paddy wagon would have been cool, but the Explorer's higher ground clearance makes it more versatile for law enforcement officials who require all-terrain capability.
Unlike the sedan, which will be available with two different powertrains, the Explorer Interceptor only comes with Ford's 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6, delivering "at least 280" horsepower and mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Both front- and all-wheel-drive configurations are available, and it appears that the Explorer's terrain management system will not be offered on the Police Interceptor. The latest host of driver aids like curve control and Ford's AdvanceTrac Roll Stability Control are standard on the Interceptor Utility, as are larger brakes, a tougher suspension and 18-inch steel wheels.
Inside, new seats have been fitted up front with reductions in side bolstering to accommodate an officer's utility belt, and the gear shifter is now mounted on the column in order to provide space for computer equipment in the center console. Much like the Taurus Interceptor, Ford specifically designed the spacing between the seats to ensure that existing police equipment can be carried over to the new vehicles without issue. Things aren't exactly luxurious in the rear seats (duh), but occupants out back do get their own climate control system (Ford says this is ideal for K9 units) as well as stab plates in the front seat backs to keep the driver and passenger safe.
Ford has also gone the extra step to rework some of the Explorer's interior functions to better suit police needs. The steering wheel buttons, for example, are remappable and can be programmed to operate a host of auxiliary functions (lights, sirens, etc.). What's more, Ford's SYNC system is on hand and can be used to voice-activate the different police communication and audio equipment.
Don't expect to see the Police Interceptor Utility out on the road until 2012 at the earliest. Ford says that production will begin in late 2011 alongside the sedan at the automaker's Chicago assembly plant. For now, check out our high-res galleries of both live and official images, and follow the jump for the presser.
Live photos Copyright ©2010 Steven J. Ewing / AOL
• Ford's new Police Interceptor utility is designed to complement the sedan introduced earlier this year and give law enforcement agencies a comprehensive choice for pursuit vehicles
• The purpose-built sedan and utility Police Interceptors will deliver at least 20 percent better fuel economy than the current Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
• Ford's utility and sedan Police Interceptors will debut simultaneously when production of the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor ceases in late 2011
CHICAGO, Sept. 1, 2010 – Ford Motor Company today revealed its newest pursuit-rated vehicle – Ford's first-ever specially designed Police Interceptor utility built for the rigors of police work.
The new vehicle is designed to complement Ford's all-new Police Interceptor sedan, which was introduced earlier this year. Combined, the two vehicles provide law enforcement agencies the ultimate in versatility and choice, something no other police vehicle on the road today can match.
"We understand today's police departments require adaptability," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "Ford is committed to remaining the nation's largest provider of police vehicles, and we're offering law enforcement officials a complete portfolio of options that are purpose-built, capable and delivered with the safety, technology and performance they need to excel at their jobs."
Ford, the police vehicle market leader for 15 years, developed both Police Interceptors to allow departments to maximize versatility without sacrificing quality. Both vehicles will debut simultaneously and be offered without interruption when production of the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor ends in late 2011.
Meeting a spectrum of needs
With the introduction of its newest Police Interceptor, Ford now provides a complete package of performance and capability designed to meet the diverse and ever-increasing needs of law enforcement agencies across the U.S.
Ford's new Police Interceptor utility vehicle is equipped with the highly efficient 3.5-liter V6 engine. This Ti-VCT engine, delivering at least 280 horsepower and E85 compatibility, is mated to a unique six-speed automatic transmission that combines lowered initial gears for improved off-the-line acceleration and higher gearing for improved efficiency at lower engine rpm when cruising. Two drivetrain options are available, providing off-road capability teamed with a multipurpose cargo area specially calibrated for loads up to 800 pounds.
Both the sedan and utility are rated for the severe-duty cycle that police professionals undertake on a daily basis and will deliver at least 20 percent more fuel efficiency than the 4.6-liter single overhead cam (SOHC) V8 offered in the current Crown Victoria Police Interceptor.
Police input key to development
When developing the next-generation Police Interceptors, Ford worked with its Police Advisory Board of law enforcement professionals to provide input on key vehicle attributes such as safety, performance, durability, driver convenience and comfort.
"The combination of both the sedan and utility versions of the Police Interceptor allows Ford to deliver a complete, diverse and efficient solution to all of law enforcements' pursuit needs," said Ken Czubay, vice president of Marketing, Sales and Service. "These vehicles were developed step-by-step with our valuable Police Advisory Board, so we have had customer feedback throughout the development process and provided an efficient solution for fleet managers."
Keeping it safe
Like the sedan, the utility version of the Police Interceptor puts a priority on safety. Continuing Ford's safety leadership includes engineering both Police Interceptors to pass 75-mph rear-end crash testing. Currently, the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor is the only pursuit sedan to meet this test.
The Police Interceptor utility vehicle features Ford's exclusive Safety Canopy® side-curtain airbag rollover protection system that helps protect passengers in both rollover and side-impact crashes. The multiple side-curtain airbags use Ford's unique roll-fold technology to help position them between the occupant and the side window.
Staying in control
Unique to the utility vehicle is Ford's state-of-the-art curve control technology, designed to help drivers maintain control of their vehicles when taking curves at high speeds. Curve control senses when a vehicle is entering a curve too quickly, and can apply four-wheel smart braking to reduce vehicle speed by up to 10 mph in approximately one second and help drivers follow their intended path.
Rigorously tested, police-tuned
Just like its sedan partner, Ford's Police Interceptor utility vehicle has been put through its paces, undergoing a battery of torture tests to ensure its individual components can hold up to rigorous driving. Certification testing designed by the Michigan State Police and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department proved out the durability and capability of the vehicle through a variety of punishing tracks.
To make sure the utility vehicle can take the heat – quite literally – the AWD drivetrain is equipped with a water-cooled power transfer unit that guarantees capability in all conditions. Across the board, brakes have been increased in size and performance, and the cooling package features a heavy-duty alternator and larger radiator. Standard 18-inch wheels are vented, designed to work in concert with the enhanced brake system.
Even so, the utility vehicle is light, precise and easy to handle. "Officers won't need any special training to drive this," said Carl Widmann, vehicle engineering manager. "The advanced technologies and similar driving dynamics of Ford's new Police Interceptors provide officers the flexibility, convenience and ease of driving utility or sedan police vehicles."
Functional, inside and out
Inside, the functionality continues, with the vehicle's interior package uniquely designed for the needs of police, maximizing officer comfort and cargo capacity. The front seats are designed with a lower bolster to accommodate utility belts, and just like the sedan, Ford's Police Interceptor utility offers a column shift, designed to leave the console area free for the ever-increasing amounts of equipment necessary for officers to do their jobs.
The second row features a vinyl, easy-to-clean bench seat that folds flat for versatility. Because police require a lot of gear, additional space in the utility provides plenty of room for K-9 officers and SWAT operations, including room for the full-size spare tire to be stored safely under the cargo area.
The new utility vehicle also features:
• Ford SYNC®: The Ford-exclusive, hands-free information system provides officers the ability to operate their various communication and audio equipment by voice control.
• BLIS® (Blind Spot Information System): The system uses two radar sensors located in the rear quarter panels to detect vehicles in the surrounding lanes. If a vehicle enters the driver's blind spot zones, the system alerts the driver with a warning light in the sideview mirror.
• Cross-traffic alert: This system uses the existing BLIS radar modules to sense oncoming traffic when slowly backing out of a parking spot. This industry-exclusive system functions only while the vehicle is in reverse and warns when cross traffic appears within three car-widths.
• Rear view camera: When the vehicle is in rear camera mode, a color image with guidance markers on the rearview mirror will assist the driver in backing up.
• Reverse Sensing System: An audible tone will alert the driver to certain objects up to 6 feet behind the vehicle.
• Remappable steering wheel controls: Helping officers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, remappable steering wheel controls offer the police the flexibility to work specifically with police aftermarket equipment to customize voice-controlled lights and sirens at the push of a button.
• Standard AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control™): This system helps maintain the intended path by measuring side-to-side yaw, or skidding, by the vehicle's speed, throttle position and steering wheel angle. When wheel slip is sensed, AdvanceTrac reduces engine torque and applies selected brakes.
Both Ford Police Interceptors will be manufactured at Ford's Chicago Assembly Plant.