Ford’s iconic Crown Victoria is being retired after 20 years as the most recognizable police vehicle. To replace the Crown Vic, Ford is introducing two brand new vehicles to the market, the Interceptor Sedan and Utility. I was given the amazing opportunity to check these out firsthand and see what it felt like to get behind the wheel of a true pursuit-rated police car.
[BoxTitle]Ford’s New Police Interceptors[/BoxTitle] [Gallery]http://heavy.com/moto/moto-photo/2012/03/fords-new-police-interceptors[/Gallery]
When Ford set out to produce the successor to the legendary Crown Victoria, the goal in mind was a purpose-built vehicle. The new Police Interceptor Sedan and the first ever pursuit-rated Utility represent a thoughtful and considered approach to designing cars specifically for law enforcement use.
Many concerns of officers went in to the design of these new cars including easy to clean specialized fabrics, custom seats with foam removed to accommodate a gun holster and steel backings to protect from assault, wider door openings, and even a column shifter to free up the center console for police-specific equipment. An officer’s car is their office; they can spend their entire shift there, and as such, it must accommodate whatever needs they may have.
We were introduced to the two new vehicles that will soon fill law enforcement fleets nationwide. They were anxious to point out the high tech improvements over the antiquated Crown Vic platform and create something beyond a civilian application. Though they are built off existing consumer models, cosmetics are where the similarities end. They are designed functionally rather than superficially and nearly every component is tuned to the specific demands of the police force. From the enlarged radiators and tweaked engines to their stiffer bodies, steel wheels and enormous brakes, nothing has been glossed over.
After we were done with the pitch, it was time to hit the driving course and see if they lived up to the hype. There were three courses prepared, two for both of the Sedan’s engine configurations and one for the Utility. To give us a basis of comparison, they first let us run the courses a few times in Crown Victoria. While driving the Crown Vic was fun and it oozed raw power and handling, the differences in the new platforms were instantly noticeable.
First up was the Interceptor Sedan. Opting for a V6 instead of the traditional V8 of the Crown Vic, the Sedan sported a highly efficient 3.5-liter V6 engine delivering 263 horsepower with 25 percent more efficiency than the outgoing 4.6-liter single-overhead-cam V8. The next major difference came in the new AWD system, replacing the rear-wheel drive system and using a stabilizing and traction control called AdvanceTrac that measures skidding by the vehicle’s speed, throttle position and steering wheel angle. When wheel slip is sensed, it reduces engine torque and applies specific brakes to get you where you want to be.
After two laps around the course I was just blown away. The handling and power were amazing. You could break the rear free and hook it back up with amazing ease to keep high speeds through the twisting course.
Next we got to test the Utility. While reminiscent of the Explorer, I was surprised how much it didn’t feel anything like its street version. It gripped and turned more like a car than an SUV, and its braking was particularly impressive. While talking to a retired State Trooper that was on site, he admitted this would be his professional vehicle of choice hands down.
Finally we came to the real draw, a second Interceptor Sedan upgraded with the optional 365 horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 twin-turbocharged, direct-injection engine. For this car they built a large, sweeping “pursuit” course and paired us up with a professional race instructor to ride along, allowing us to truly experience the potential of this vehicle.
I can tell you firsthand, being behind the wheel of one of these new super powered police cars is much more fun than being in the back. As I headed back through Manhattan after the experience, I found myself giddy, wanting to stop officers on the street and tell them all about the new toys that were in store. In the end I would call this a success for Ford. They set out with a goal to build a car specific to the tough job of law enforcement and from this experience and the officers I spoke to, they nailed it.
To learn more about Ford’s new Police Interceptors, visit their site.