They can't be called exotic, and they aren't that fast, but everybody loves flashing lights. In 2012, Ford will roll out two new Police Interceptors based on the Taurus/Explorer platform. A day riding shotgun in cop cars being thrown around a test track is just the thing to defibrillate your inner 7-year-old car-lover back to life.
The power-sliding, tire-smoking Ford Crown Victoria currently holds about 70 percent of the Interceptor business. Even with much newer offerings from Dodge and Chevrolet, departments all over the country still buy the tried-and-tested body-on-frame workhorse from Ford. Originally launched in 1992, the Crown Vic has been refreshed and updated a few times, but essentially Ford hit the nail on the head almost 20 years ago.
But times have changed, and so have cops. Ford Vehicle Engineering manager Carl Widmann explained that most of the current recruits grew up in front-wheel-drive four-cylinder cars, so they don't have the connection to V-8 power and rear-wheel drive like the veterans. These new Police Interceptors will be available with front-or all-wheel drive and use the Ti-VCT V6 FlexFuel, with the Twin-Turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 optional in the sedan. Yes, cop cars have option lists too.
Ford invited us to experience the new Police Interceptors and we couldn't resist. After a couple hours of lectures and marketing spin, the rubber met the road. An autocross that simulated real street conditions, minus the stacks of cardboard boxes and fruit stands, was the perfect test venue. It took mere seconds in the Crown Vic to actually feel my cop mustache growing in. Not hugely powerful by modern standards, the 250-horsepower Vic still leaps off the line with tire spin, V-8 growl and two decades of pursuit-frenzied "Punch it!" echoing inside the cabin. Even with the Police Issue Suspension the car squats down, and you sink into the wide, soft seats that wouldn't be tight even with the added width of a gun, pepper spray, and three donuts a day on the hips.