Next-Gen Ford Explorer to Come in Police Trim

Ford has dominated the police car market for years, and doesn't plan to stop anytime soon. After announcing a police-spec version of its Taurus, the company also plans on adding a pursuit-spec version of its upcoming Ford Explorer to its law-enforcement portfolio.

With the unmistakable Crown Victoria ready to ride off into the sunset next year, all eyes are on the impending Taurus-based 2012 Police Interceptor. While the Taurus is blessed with more contemporary sheetmetal and modern appointments, precinct loyalty to the ole' Crown Vic runs deep and, unsurprisingly, not all police officers and fleet managers were enthused that the next-generation Interceptor would be unibody and lack rear-wheel drive. The Crown Vic accounts for a dominant 70 percent of all police vehicles sold in the United States, netting around 53,000 sales per year.

"I had a lot of doubts. The Crown Vic was one of the best police vehicles ever," said Vartan Yegiyan, director of police transportation for the Los Angeles Police Department.

To appease concerns, Ford utilized the insight of a 27-member police advisory board to develop the Taurus police car, but wasn't content with just one offering. Enter the Explorer, which will be pursuit-rated and ready for daily duty, yet also utilize a unibody construction and forgo rear-wheel drive. As the current-gen Taurus and 2011 Explorer are parked on a common platform, albeit a slightly modified one for the sport-utility, the two will share interchangeable components and theoretically reduce service costs.

"When you own 70 percent of the market and you understand your customers, they tell you what their needs are," said Lisa Teed, brand marketing manager for Ford's police vehicle program. "They need flexibility, and that's what this second vehicle brings."

While Ford has remained tight-lipped about the Explorer, this is what we do know about the revised utility midsizer. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost inline-four will be an option but other engines remain unclear. Reputed six-cylinder engines under consideration are the 306-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 set for the F-150 and Mustang and the two Taurus mills -- the 262-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 and the 355-horsepower, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. Drive configurations will be either front- or all-wheel drive. And despite moving from body-on-frame to unibody architectures, chief engineer Jim Holland assures the new Explorer will be as capable and durable as the outgoing model.

"Having a pursuit-rated SUV would be great," said Yegiyan. "They're very important for a number of law enforcement agencies, including ours."

Law-enforcement SUVs are especially valued in rural areas, but urban agencies desire the larger vehicles as command posts and canine and SWAT movers. Ford is expected to reveal the Explorer cop car later this year.

In addition to the Ford Police Interceptor and upcoming Explorer-based utility vehicle, the Carbon Motors E7, Chevrolet Caprice, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Dodge Charger police variants are/will be options in the law-enforcement vehicle market.

Source: Detroit News

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