American motorists will soon have another patrol car to look out for on the roads – the updated 2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility has made its debut at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. The current model is the bestselling new police vehicle in the US, so the new SUV cruiser is very big news for Ford.
Based on the facelifted Explorer, the PIU gets the civilian model’s updated front and rear fascias, but gains steel 18-inch wheels and the obligatory blues and twos, including a pair of intimidating C-shaped blue and red flashing lights on the front bumper. The grille also has a larger opening for improved cooling, while the headlights gain “wig-wag” high beams, alternating between left and right flashes when activated.
The interior receives the higher door armrests and updated design and switchgear of the 2016 Explorer, but a few police-only touches have also crept in. The gear lever has been moved to the steering column, freeing up space for police equipment on the lower central tunnel. Also modified are the front seats – the bolsters have been removed to accommodate utility belts, and metal plates have been inserted to thwart stabbings.
New for the Utility model is an optional Surveillance Mode that closes the windows and locks the doors if the car detects a person sneaking up to it. There’s also a new tailgate release switch in front of the cabin, which allows the rear hatch to remain unlocked for 45 seconds while the rest of the doors are locked.
Other features include SYNC hands-free control, a standard self-cleaning rear camera – displayed either on the four-inch screen on the centre console or optionally in the rear-view mirror – as well as an optional ballistic shields for the front doors, which, in Level III specification, can withstand assault rifle fire. Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), cross-traffic alert and reverse sensors are all available as optional extras.
Under the hood, the engine choices remain the same as before – a 304 hp/378 Nm 3.7 litre naturally-aspirated V6 or a 365 hp/475 Nm 3.5 litre EcoBoost V6. All models come standard with all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission; the latter features a Pursuit Mode that detects aggressive driving and adjusts upshift and downshift performance to suit, and is even tuned to do a 180-degree reverse J-turn.
The mechanicals have also been uprated for high-speed pursuit duty, with beefed-up cooling, heavy-duty suspension (including larger diameter springs), reinforced powertrain and subframe mounts, police-spec brakes and longer-lasting tyres.