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2020 Ford Police Interceptor Review By Larry Nutson

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2020 Ford Police Interceptor
More than meets the eye


By Larry Nutson
Executive Producer and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

If I told you that you could save $3,500 a year in gasoline costs and still get the same performance with a vehicle that meets all your needs, what would you think?

Ford is providing that to police departments with the new pursuit-rated 2020 Ford Police Interceptor. The standard engine will be a 3.3-L V6 Hybrid. Police vehicles spend on average 60% to 70% of their time stopped and idling, but still need to be kept turned on. With a hybrid all the equipment that needs to be kept on and functioning can be powered by the lithium-ion hybrid battery.

With Ford’s Hybrid the gasoline engine is off for about 80% of the time that the vehicle is idle. Battery charge is kept in the 30% to 70% range to power all the needed equipment.

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The all-new 2020 Police Interceptor Utility Hybrid has a projected EPA-estimated rating of 24 mpg combined, a 41 percent improvement over the outgoing Police Interceptor Utility equipped with a 3.7-liter gas engine. The cost comparison is based on gasoline estimated at $2.75 per gallon.

Another advantage of the hybrid is reduced brake wear due to the regenerative braking system. Brake life can now be extended by three times. Plus, there is less overall engine maintenance.

The 3.3-L Hybrid develops 318 system horsepower. In recent testing by Michigan State Police, the all-new Police Interceptor Hybrid had the fastest 0-100 mph acceleration, fastest lap, fastest average lap and highest top speed of 137 mph, versus competitive police utility vehicles tested, including V8-powered entries.

And at Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department testing, the 3.3-L Hybrid proved quicker and faster than the 3.7-L V6 used in previous models.

On the invite of Ford I drove the new Police Interceptor around a handling course at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois. Along with some other auto writers we were in the company of a large contingent of police officers who also were there to experience and evaluate the new Police Interceptor (PI).

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I came away quite impressed by the overall dynamic ability of the Police Interceptor with very balanced handling, excellent braking along with very good acceleration performance.

A municipal administrator certainly would be interested in reducing overall cost to a community to operate its police department while still delivering the required police services.

The 2020 Police Interceptor is based on the new Explorer which now rides on a new rear-drive platform. Although, all Police Interceptors will be all-wheel drive.

Don’t just think of all-wheel drive as beneficial in snow or off-road conditions. Ford has tuned the suspension system to delivery outstanding handling, as a police vehicle should have.

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Two other engine choices will be available on the Ford PI, a 3.3L-V6 and a 400-HP 3.0-L EcoBoost V6 that will accelerate from stop to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and has a top speed of 150 mph. Michigan State Police confirmed the 400-HP PI as the quickest and fastest police vehicle tested.

All three of PI’s engines are mated to Ford’s quick shifting 10-speed automatic driving the all-wheel drive system.

Ford’s PI has some differences to the civilian Explorer. A steering column-mounted gear selector is used rather than the rotary gear shift dial to free up space for equipment in the center console. There’s only two seat rows, not three. Additional steel structure in the rear is installed to provide safety for the officers in a 75-mph rear-collision. This exceeds the federal requirement of a 50-mph rear-collision test.

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Ballistic front door panels are available. The door handle and the window switch on the inside of each rear door are covered with a blank panel. Front seats are covered in heavy-duty durable and yet comfortable cloth. Vinyl rear seats and vinyl flooring enable easy cleanup. Anti-stab plates in the rear of the front seat backs help protect officers from potential threats. Inside front door panels are shaped to provide extra room for the officer’s weapon and equipment belt. Police Perimeter Alert uses rear mounted sensors to detect someone approaching the vehicle and will alert the officer, lock doors and raise windows.

The Ford Police Interceptor accounts for nearly two-thirds of all police vehicle sales in the U.S. Ford expects many of the new 2020 PI models to be Hybrid equipped saving municipalities—and taxpayers, significant cost.

Ford began offering police packages on their vehicles way back in 1950. The Interceptor name debuted on the optional 110-horsepower flathead V8 engine for 1951. Today, Police vehicles are a lot more than just an identifying paint job and a red light on top.

© 2019 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy