Much to the dismay of police departments nationwide, rear-wheel-drive, V-8-powered body-on-frame sedans are done. Ford Motor Company's mainstay cop car has finally gone to that great taxicab-used car lot in the sky. But you had better believe Dearborn desperately wants to hold on to the 70 percent of the law enforcement fleet business it owned thanks in large part to its outgoing Crown Victoria.

In an effort to fight off the Dodge Charger Interceptor, Chevrolet's Impala and Tahoe, and the coming Chevy Caprice and Carbon Motors efforts, Ford is marketing its new Taurus- and Explorer-based Police Interceptors for their safety and tight handling. The '11 unibody Police Interceptors -- the new Explorer is on the same platform as the Taurus, of course -- have crush zones that the body-on-frame, Panther-platform Fords lacked.

This is a big deal. It emphasizes police officer safety over police fleet cost. Body-on-frame cars and trucks are very easy and cheap to repair. The Los Angeles County Sheriff Department's motor pool has its own body shop and frame straighteners, and can have a cop car that starred in last night's Action News 'copter chase scene back on the road in a matter of days, often with a front clip from a junked taxicab. Of the Detroit Three's volume cop cars, the Chevrolet Tahoe is the only body-on-frame model.

With its new Explorer -- uh, Police Interceptor sport/utility -- Ford is emphasizing the availability of all-wheel-drive, which is also offered on the P.I. sedan (Taurus). Ford says either car is better suited for most PDs with the AWD option, because AWD can better handle winters, and in places like L.A., can handle a variety of terrain.