Ford's aging Crown Victoria is barely relevant to most consumers, but cabbies and police officers across the country will bemoan its demise once production ceases next fall. The Transit Connect van may satisfy the livery fleets, but to appease law enforcement officers, Ford crafted its new 2012 Police Interceptor.
Without a doubt, Ford's new Interceptor is a clean break from the decades-old body-on-frame, V-8-powered, rear-wheel-drive Crown Vic formula. Although Ford was once rumored to be modifying its rear-drive Australian Falcon platform for police use, Ford instead went to its American-built Taurus sedan for the new car.
As is the case with the consumer model, police departments will have their choice of two different powertrains in the Police Interceptor. The 265 hp, normally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 is standard, and sends its power to the front wheels only. Those looking for a veritable pursuit special will likely opt for the other driveline, which is ripped straight from the Taurus SHO. Ford's EcoBoost twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 provides "at least" 365 hp, which is channeled to all four wheels. While power looks to be on par with a standard Taurus, Ford engineers did upgrade the Police Interceptor's brakes -- something we'd love to see transition to the SHO.
Like the Crown Vic, the Taurus Police Interceptor has been designed to pass 75-mph rear-end crash testing, and a heavy-duty alternator and an enlarged radiator have been added. In addition, the car has also undergone certification testing designed by the Michigan State Police and the L.A. County Sheriff's Departments to emulate the rigorous duty police officers will no doubt put the car through.
Most of the other changes made to ready the Taurus to protect and serve are relatively minor. A revised center console provides room for various aftermarket law enforcement devices and is nestled between bespoke cloth bucket seats, and a column shifter has been added to better access the gear. Along with an anti-stab plate installed in the backrest, the seats receive special bolsters designed to accommodate a standard police utility belt. Ford's SYNC system is comes standard, and can be custom-mapped to accommodate the needs of law enforcement.
The rear seat area is naturally less hospitable, but still an improvement over the Crown Victoria's setup. The vinyl bench seat is sculpted for easier handling of detainees and is specially positioned to improve legroom. The revised rear door hinges feature an extra ten degrees of travel to further aid perpetrator loading and unloading.
Apart from the light and push bars, there are subtle ways to ID the Police Interceptor from a normal Taurus. The large, 18-inch steel wheels are an obvious giveaway, and the car also eschews the standard Taurus three-bar grille in favor of a black mesh insert. The car could look virtually stock if these were replaced with standard Taurus parts -- and we're sure officers desiring the ultimate stealth cruiser will do just that.
Ford says production of the Police Interceptor will occur alongside the Taurus at its plant in Chicago, Illinois, and will start as soon as Crown Victoria production ends. Look for it to appear on city streets (or, God forbid, your rearview mirror) next fall.