First Look: 2012 Ford Taurus and Explorer Police Interceptor

For those of you who always obey the speed limit and come to a complete stop, the following information probably won’t be of much interest. But those of you who might occasionally bend the rules should listen up: We’ve got the skinny on Ford’s newest police vehicle offerings. You’d better start scanning the landscape for shapes other than the familiar Crown Victoria, which is no longer being sold.

Naturally, Ford wants to maintain its impressive 70 percent ownership of the police vehicle market in the wake of the Crown Vic’s departure. To that end, we recently checked out the 2011 Police Interceptor, available in sedan (Taurus) and SUV (Explorer) configurations. Enthusiasts will quickly realize this signifies a huge shift in the underpinnings of law enforcement vehicles -- the Crown Victoria was body-on-frame while the new Police Interceptors are unibody construction. The change in platform also signifies a new direction in marketing efforts.

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. And it's available for police duty only with lowered suspension and rear-wheel-drive.

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.

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...or, instead of cozing up to your local sheriff.. get to know the parts guy at your local Ford dealer. Some of those brake, cooling, engine and other parts are probably bolt-on! You could make a real wolf in civilian clothing!

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