2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility: There’s a New Sheriff in Town
Updated Explorer-Based PI Shows New Face
Ford showed the updated 2016 Police Interceptor Utility (based on the Explorer) a few days in advance of its Chicago Auto Show debut, highlighting new styling and a few extra features for America’s top-selling law enforcement vehicle.
The Police Interceptor Utility borrows its new styling from the updated 2016 Ford Explorer, which will receive new head- and taillights and front and rear bodywork. On the Explorer, those updates are good for a five percent increase in aerodynamic efficiency, so we’d bet the cosmetics are good for something on the PI Utility as well.
However, in addition to the styling changes, the Interceptor includes a few meaningful functional updates as well. An enhanced electrical system distributes loads more efficiently, which is important in such an equipment-heavy vehicle (the added electrical stress of lights, sirens, cameras, and computers can really affect a police car’s longevity).
In addition, new police-requested features help make the Police Interceptor Utility more useful and safer for North America’s Finest. A dedicated liftgate release switch unlocks the rear hatch, allowing officers access to gear without having to unlock all the doors. A rear vision camera (which can optionally display via a screen in the rearview mirror) is standard as well.
One of the most significant features is Surveillance Mode, a system that takes advantage of the rear camera and parking sensors (which has been available since last year on both the Police Interceptor Utility and Police Interceptor Sedan). If someone approaches the parked police vehicle from the rear, the system locks the doors, rolls up the windows, and sounds the parking sensor alarm, helping the officer stay prepared for situations he or she might otherwise be blind to. By the way, Ford has offered to license the technology to manufacturers of other law-enforcement vehicles. It’s good to see a company making such technology available
Perhaps the coolest feature of both Police Interceptor models is a “Pursuit Mode” for the six-speed automatic transmission. Using brake-line pressure, deceleration, and lateral acceleration measurements, Pursuit Mode automatically detects aggressive driving and adjusts shift logic appropriately, with no input from the officer required. The system is even optimized to allow for a swift, seamless J-turn (a reverse-180 maneuver that most of us have only seen in the movies). That feature no doubt helps the PI Utility maintain its title of fastest-accelerating police utility vehicle, courtesy of the optional 3.5L EcoBoost V-6 (a naturally aspirated 3.7L V-6 is standard).
As before, the Ford comes with heavy-duty suspension, brakes, and wheels (the latter of which are designed to channel cooling air toward the brake discs). Unique engine mounts, subframe bushings, and wheel hubs further improve the Police Interceptor Utility’s durability in extreme situations.
The Windy City is a natural place for the company to reveal the Police Interceptor Utility, as the vehicle is produced in Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant.