The retail consumer might call the latest ride for police from Ford an SUV, but with its design, technology and lowered center of gravity, the Ford Police Interceptor II is less sport and more law enforcement oriented than models of police fleet past. You'd be more accurate to call this a police utility vehicle.
In early September, Ford Motor Co. unveiled the second part of its two-vehicle strategy created to take the place of its formerly dominating Crown Victoria models, set to retire manufacturing next year. With much fanfare at the company's manufacturing plant in Lansing, Ill., company spokesman Ken Czubay revealed the utility version of the previously announced Ford Interceptor sedan.
The company listed safety features and compatibility of parts as notable aspects of the new line of police vehicles: the Interceptor I, a sedan; and the Interceptor II, an SUV.
With the approaching retirement of the Crown Vic from Ford, fleet managers and the law enforcement community have seen renewed energy in the police vehicle market in recent months, with the Carbon Motors E7, Dodge's law enforcement adaptation of its Charger and the revamped Caprice from Chevrolet. Emphasis by manufacturers has been placed on economical fuel options and increased safety and power abilities.
After the reveal, law enforcement representatives and members of the media were invited to ride-along on a closed orange cone-studded course, hosted at the Ford campus. Four models were present, including the Interceptor II utility model, the Interceptor I, the EcoBoost model of the Interceptor I and for comparison, a legacy Crown Victoria police vehicle.
Lt. Mark Twombly with the Dane County Sheriff's Office, a state agency hosting approximately 115 vehicles of various makes and missions, says the ride-along event was the most valuable part of the Ford reveal.
According to Ford, the CVPI has accounted for 70 percent of all police vehicles sold in the United States; the present-day fleet at the Dane County Sheriff's department comes close with the Crown Vic forming about 52 percent of its cars.
Twombly states if the Crown Vics were not being discontinued, his agency would likely carry on buying them. So why would Ford quit a good thing? Ford spokeswoman Lisa Teed says the company is being asked to provide improvement that can't be made without advanced platforms. New requirements for safety such as braking and upcoming fall 2011 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Regulations for crush criterion caused Ford to revamp its proven and industry respected CVPI.
A key element of concern for 26-year law enforcement vet Twombly is the real estate available inside the present police fleet offerings. He adds some new sedans have limited space for his in-car equipment needs.
"As a county agency, our problem is with all the equipment we must carry," Twombly says. "It gets cramped in the passenger side because all our ancillary equipment needs to fit." For this reason, the Interceptor II piqued his interest, as the space for shotgun and laptop mounting is considered into the model plan. In addition, the vehicle's rear storage can potentially host the police radar, rifles and computer equipment like in-car video system and laptops that sheriff's deputies must have in tow. "That trunk area was huge, which could be a huge potential benefit for us," Twombly says.
Teed says the decision to introduce two vehicles to replace its Crown Vic comes directly from the requests of agencies. "It's obvious Ford put a lot of thought into [the Interceptor II] and listens to what law enforcement has to say," Twombly says. In the past, other police SUVs were of interest, but the problem Twombly says usually came down to safety issues for the larger-jurisdiction state agency: a high point of gravity and rolling were a great concern. The new utility Interceptor II has a low point of gravity that reduces roll incident concern. Plus this model is pursuit-rated, which combined with its all-wheel drive for the diversity of Wisconsin weather, makes the newly revealed ride exciting, Twombly says.