Ford Police Interceptor Utility: Not Just For Robocop's Mom

The Ford Police Interceptor Utility, the Blue Oval's latest police-grade offering, starts with the 2011 Explorer, stuffs in the heavy-duty high-tech goodies from the Taurus Police Interceptor and adds a few more tricks. It's an Explorer built for a beating.

Let's start off with the basics. Yes, the Interceptor Utility is based on the new 2011 Ford Explorer, which is in-turn based on the Ford Taurus, which means both this and the recently-revealed Police Interceptor share a whole lot of parts. This is something Ford's hoping will entice fleet operators to buy into their product. But whereas the Explorer is about coddling passengers, this one's about busting crooks and doing it efficiently. Ford figures that in addition to its Taurus Interceptor offerings, many municipalities will need a larger vehicle like the Utility for carrying cargo, canine units and large caches of recovered contraband.

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The Utility starts with an Explorer chassis, but according to Ford engineers as much as 50% of the overall platform has been upgraded with high-strength steel components for a more durable machine. Pretty much everything under the skin has been upgraded for strength; it's rated to take a 75-mph rear end collision and mount 8-inch curbs at speed. Even the door panels have been reinforced with Kevlar panels for added protection during gun fights.

Motivation comes from a lone option of the 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6 making 280-hp, which is upgraded with a larger alternator, heavy-duty AC compressor, an oil cooler, a transmission cooler and a radiator three times more powerful than stock. It's also E85 capable and 20% more fuel efficient than the current Crown Vic Interceptors. The transmission's been upgraded with heavy duty gears with a lower ratio resulting in quicker pickup. The Explorers Interceptor Utilities are available with front-wheel or all-wheel-drive with retuned suspensions for more spirited handing. If they're anything like the Taurus Interceptors we had a chance to ride in, turn in will be crisp, cornering will be flat, mid-corner lift-off will result in mild oversteer, and aggressive throttle application will be rewarded with healthy oversteer. In short, much different, and way more fun.

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Inside the office the most notable changes include a column shifter, standard police width 9" center console so all their current equipment swaps in, redesigned seats to accommodate an officer wearing a utility belt and seats with a stab-proof plate in the back (cooooool). The steering wheel also gets reprogrammable buttons to control lights and sirens. Back seats are spartan, as you might imagine, laid out in vinyl with hard door panels so everything's easily cleaned out. What you don't see are the addition of conduits running through the headliner and space in the fuse boxes, all the better for running auxiliary lighting. The third-row seats are removed and departments can kit out the whole back end, or cage the cargo area and put in storage systems. The whole vehicle is designed to be as customizable as possible.

It may sound silly, "Explorer Police Car," but we're told it's a serious machine, and it'll be put through its paces this month at the Michigan State Police vehicle performance testing battery, which is vehicular hell, to put it lightly. We're sure the good troopers won't be giving it an easy time.