2012 Ford Police Interceptor: The Crown Vic's Robocop ReplacementS

Ford's Crown Victoria-based police interceptor will finally end production late next year. This is its replacement — the 2012 Ford Police Interceptor. Other than the movie Robocop, it's the first time Ford's Taurus has served as a purpose-built patrol car.

Ford first introduced its police package in 1950 and today the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor is the industry leader. The automaker's dominated the streets to the point that over the last five years, Ford's controlled more than 70% of the patrol cars sold. Obviously police fleets are an important segment. Unfortunately, the Crown Vic's Panther-platform's getting a little long in the tooth — it hasn't seen a redesign in over 15 years. The replacement? An all-new Police Interceptor built off the Ford Taurus platform that will be produced at Ford's Chicago, Ill. assembly plant.

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The new Police Interceptor sedan will obviously offer two powertrain options in order to be competitive with the upcoming Chevy Caprice PPV. The first'll be a standard engine with a 3.5-liter V6 Duratec engine producing more than the Crown Vic's current anemic V8 and more than the standard Taurus V6 — over 263 HP. But it's the second powertrain that police officers'll be pining for — a twin turbo Ecoboost 3.5-liter V6 delivering 365 HP and 350 lb-ft of torque. That's the same engine found in the new 2010 Ford Taurus SHO and it gives Ford a performance boost over the new GM patrol car — the Chevy Caprice PPV — that'll be hitting the streets at about the same time as the new Police Interceptor.

There's also an optional AWD system for the members of the Fargo police department and any other P.D.'s with need of more-than-front-wheel drivetrain police cruisers.

And oh, that interior. We're told by police forces who've already seen the vehicle that nearly 90% of the interior's been redesigned specifically for police. Ford's done little things — like installing the slimline shifter on the column to free up more console area. The instrument panel includes a horseshoe shape for aftermarket equipment installations. It even appears they've thoughtfully provided standard 9" spacing between the passenger and driver — just like the Crown Vic — so agencies can transfer existing aftermarket equipment to their new Police Interceptor. Ford's also supposedly redesigned the doors to make them open 71 degrees. That's not quite as good as the Carbon Motors concept's suicide doors, but not too shabby — and better than the Caprice PPV it'll really be in competition with.

We can also see that there's a 220 amp alternator to provide officers with all the power they'll need for computers, lights and the like — and we're told by suppliers there's a flexible conduit inside the headliner for ease of wiring aftermarket equipment. Lastly, don't forget the anti-stab plate in the back of the front seats — for your protection from shiv-equipped baddies in the back seat.

But that's the near-term future. The long-term future reportedly include a second Police Interceptor that'll be available as a "utility version" built on the same platform. Yup, a Ford Flex-based Interceptor.

But, we are wondering if the Taurus being used as a Police Interceptor is just one more step in the eventual evolution of Detroit police officers into Robocop. Probably not, but somehow that's all we'll be thinking if we see this mean-looking patrol car pulling us over.