Ford drove this point home by driving us around a tight autocross course first in the old Crown Vic cop car, then in an AWD, EcoBoost Taurus-based P.I. (Abbreviations are like doughnuts to cops.) Ford didn't allow journalists to drive, but from the short demonstration it was clear the new unibody model has tighter, better, more predictable handling thanks to AWD versus the RWD Vic. Although you can't steer the new AWD car with the throttle, it did display some line tightening oversteer in one tight, fast turn. (Hollywood will have to use the RWD Chevy Caprice or Dodge Charger for big chase scenes.) And the front bucket seats are a bit more supportive.
The surprising thing is the power difference. The 2010 Crown Vic Police Interceptor still used the 210-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8 engine. The new Police Interceptor and Police Interceptor SUV will be offered with Ford's 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V-6, mated to the six-speed automatic. It makes "280-plus" horsepower, according to Ford, is E85 flexible, and goes 20-percent farther on a gallon of gas than the Crown Vic.
Ford will offer the sedan (Taurus) with the optional 3.5-liter EcoBoost, which makes 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet in the Taurus SHO. The EcoBoost won't be available in the Police Interceptor SUV (Explorer) at launch, though Ford brass hinted heavily that it would be added soon afterward. Still, with the new models making at least 70 horsepower more than the old Crown Vic's V-8, many PDs may choose not to pay extra for EcoBoost and premium gas.
Ford did not announce pricing, but said the new models will be in the same ballpark as the old cop car. And the price of the SUV won't be too much higher than for the sedan. The company expects many police departments will increase sales for the SUV, which can easily accommodate rifles and other equipment, and K-9 police dogs.