After more than a decade as the police car of choice, the Ford Crown Victoria is getting ready to turn in its badge. The civilian version of Ford's big sedan is already out of production, and the Police Interceptor will follow suit in late 2011. Its retirement has been a long time coming. The big Ford sedan had its last major redesign in 1992 and has been little changed since.
But even in its advanced age, the Crown Vic is still the big dog among cop cars, controlling two-thirds of the market. Although it may be an underwhelming performer and an undeniable gas hog, the big Ford has endeared itself to the men and women in blue because of its roomy interior, big trunk, rear-wheel drive, and durability. Meanwhile, police agencies love the fact that it's mechanically simple, reliable, and cheap. When it's gone, current competitors like the Dodge Charger and Chevrolet's Impala and Tahoe could attract more interest. But new entrants are ready to join the force as well.
Chevrolet Caprice, 2011
Chevrolet will put Holden's Commodore - which we knew, all too briefly, as the Pontiac G8 - into uniform as a law-enforcement-exclusive offering that resurrects a nameplate from the early 1990s. With a traditional rear-wheel-drive layout and a powerful V-8 (6.0 liters, 355 hp), the Caprice is sure to attract interest.
Carbon Motors E7, 2013
The Indiana-based start-up has already garnered plenty of attention, and now it stands to grab a $310 million loan from the Department of Energy, thanks to its decision to equip its purpose-built police car with a diesel engine - courtesy of BMW. Carbon Motors claims that the turbo-diesel six-cylinder, backed up by a BMW six-speed automatic, will give its aluminum-spaceframe sedan a 6.5-second 0-to-60-mph time and combined fuel economy in the 28 to 30 mpg range.
Ford Taurus, 2011
Ford, of course, wants to hold on to its police business, and it recently unveiled the car it hopes can do that: the Taurus-based Police Interceptor. The most potent version will use Ford's direct-injected, twin-turbo V-6, good for 365 hp and driving all four wheels. A normally aspirated, 263-hp V-6 will be offered as well, with either front- or all-wheel drive. Among the changes compared with a civilian Taurus are a column-mounted gearshifter, wider-opening rear doors, eighteen-inch steel wheels, and upgraded brakes. Also, Ford will offer a new police version of one of its SUVs - the next Explorer, perhaps?
Police Car Market Share (2009)
1. Ford Crown Victoria
4.6L V-8, 250 hp, rear-wheel drive
2. Dodge Charger
5.7L V-8, 368 hp, rear-wheel drive,
3.5L V-6, 250 hp, rear-wheel drive
3. Chevrolet Impala
3.9L V-6, 230 hp, front-wheel drive