Ford has dominated the police car market for many years with its rear-wheel drive Crown Victoria sedan, but the introduction of its new Taurus-based front and all-wheel drive drive police cars has some skeptics.
Each year, Chrysler's proving grounds in Chelsea, Michigan, plays host to automakers and law enforcement professionals looking to test the latest batch of police-spec vehicles.
The Michigan State Police is charged with the task of putting the vehicles through stringent acceleration, braking, and handling tests, among others. Typically, law enforcement agencies preferred rear-wheel-drive vehicles for their ability to perform high-speed maneuvers, their durability, and their lower cost to repair.
This year, the competition for the cop-car market is heating up, thanks in part to a heavily revised version of the Dodge Charger police car (dubbed Pursuit), and a revival of the Chevrolet Caprice nameplate. Ford, which has dominated the market since 1996 with the rear-wheel-drive Crown Victoria, showcased its new Taurus Police Interceptor. With production on the Crown Vic scheduled to end next August, Ford prepared its new Taurus for law enforcement duty, offering either either a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 with power routed to the front wheels, or a twin-turbocharged, 365-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 mated to an all-wheel-drive system.
Tony Gratson, Ford's manager of government fleet sales, told the Detroit Free Press that in preliminary testing, the all-wheel-drive Taurus performed better than rear-wheel-drive vehicles. That said, some officers expressed skepticism over the Taurus platform, noting the front-wheel-drive vehicle takes some getting used to, especially when migrating from the rear-wheel-drive handling characteristics associated with the Crown Vic. Although officers will require additional training when moving away from rear-wheel drive, Gratson said that Ford is ready to assist with the task.
Interestingly, the Taurus Interceptor's primary competitors are both rear-wheel-drive sedans. The Charger Pursuit will offer either a 3.6-liter V-6 with 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque or a 5.7-liter V-8 with 368 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque. Chevrolet's Holden Commodore-based Caprice boasts one engine choice, a 6.0-liter V-8 that produces 355 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque.
With its competitors staying the course and offering rear-wheel drive, Ford may have its work cut out to attract law enforcement agencies. Will the Taurus Interceptor make a compelling case?
Source: The Detroit Free Press