What Makes Ford Police Vehicles Special? A Lot More Than You Would Guess

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We took a deep dive on Ford’s newest Police Interceptor Utility Vehicle and came away amazed at just how different it is from a civilian SUV.

It’s 11:30 on a Monday and I’m the only one in the tent without a weapon. Around me are police from all over New England. We are at the Massachusetts State Police Vehicle Training facility west of Boston to try out Ford’s latest and greatest of police vehicles, the Police Interceptor Utility. BestRide was invited along to experience Ford’s new generation of police vehicles the same way police groups do.

Although we had a lot of fun tossing the Ford Police Interceptor Utility Vehicles around the Massachusetts State Police Closed course, it was the presentation that was the most surprising. It was conducted by a 30-year veteran motorcycle cop (his words) who now works with Ford to educate and inform police departments on what Ford’s vehicles offer that the competition doesn’t.

You may have noticed we haven’t said “police car.” That is because more and more, the police are moving to utility vehicles. There are still some sedans, mainly used by detectives, but for troopers and police out on the road, it is the Explorer-derived Ford Police Interceptor Utility that is the new hot rig. Here are just a few of the things that make police vehicles special.

Police Vehicles Are Sort of Bullet Proof

Ford can up-armor a Police Interceptor Utility. The insides of the doors are the most popular places to armor and Ford has pre-made nonmetallic ballistic panels ready for installation. There are various levels of armor.

There are still some weapons that can put a bullet through the level IV panels, but an AK-47 is not one of them. Ford also makes the front seat backs “stab resistant.” We didn’t get to try either of these features during our testing, but they looked pretty convincing.

Police Vehicles Can Withstand Impacts Normal Vehicles Cannot

Sadly, many police officers are injured while sitting inside their cruiser. The federal test for rear impact testing is conducted at 50 MPH. However, impaired and distracted drivers sometimes hit police vehicles parked at the side of the highway. For that reason, Ford has tested – and validated – its new Police Interceptor Utility at 75 MPH. At that speed the impact forces are tremendous. To make the vehicle capable of handling that impact Ford installs a pretty substantial supplementary sub-frame in the back of the vehicle.

Police Vehicles Can Create Impacts Normal Vehicles Cannot

Automatic emergency braking is now part of every vehicle. In fact, Ford offers a package of advanced forward impact protection that includes pedestrian detection and avoidance. However, there are times when a police officer wants to have her vehicle hit another. The classic “spin and pin” pit maneuver is one case, and a little less dramatic example may be a case where an officer simply needs to move a vehicle off the road with a push. Auto braking would hinder these moves. So Ford puts a simple toggle switch in a place where an officer can flick it and then be able to ram something if duty calls for such action. We’d love to tell you where the switch is, but we were sworn to secrecy.

You Can’t Sneak Up On a Ford Police Vehicle

There are bad people who want to harm police officers sitting in vehicles. The Boston Marathon bombers did exactly that, and Massachusetts MIT police Sean Collier officer tragically lost his life. To help police stay safe in their parked vehicles Ford developed a warning and tracking system for officers. Using sensors mounted on the vehicle, the Ford Police vehicle can display the activity behind and beside the officers’ forward field of view. Skateboarders, walkers, and runners are shown on the infotainment screen as they approach. We heard the spec, but we will just say the system has a surprising range of more than many yards and can track many objects simultaneously.  The system is also active. It rolls up the windows and locks the doors if an officer does not acknowledge an approaching person when they get too close.

Police Vehicles Are Able to Hit Things And Drive in Water Without Damage

Ford’s Police Interceptor Utility vehicles come with special tires, wheels, and suspensions. The specifications for those components are very closely correlated to a set of tests that Ford performs. One is the eight-inch curb strike at 40 MPH. Another is the median crossing. Ford Police vehicles are also rated at 18 inches of water at slow speeds and ten inches at 40 MPH. Ford installs special guards to keep water out of the air intake.

Ford Police Hybrids Will Save Taxpayers Millions

In a prior story, we explained how Ford’s new 3.3-liter hybrid engine doesn’t just make the vehicle faster than the outgoing 3.7-liter engine, it will save taxpayers millions. That is because police vehicles, on average, spend 60% of their deployed time idling. The hybrid system enables the HVAC and lighting to operate without using the gas engine for up to about 5 hours on an eight-hour shift. Over six years at today’s gas prices, that will save a municipality about $20K in fuel costs. Per vehicle.

We love The Blues Brothers, but it would take Elwood a long time to explain the features and capabilities of today’s Police Interceptor Utility vehicle to Jake.