Fuel Efficiency And Performance For Those Who “Protect And Serve”
Ford has two-thirds of police vehicle sales in the United States, so the challenge is what could they possibly do to impress law enforcement departments even more. What they did was to improve the very popular Explorer SUV with better telematics, safety systems and adding a hybrid. Yes, those blue and red lights behind you will now be powered by the first-ever pursuit-rated Ford 2020 Police Interceptor Explorer Hybrid.
In mid-March 2018, Ford announced it would be introducing 24 battery hybrid vehicles over the next few years (in addition to full battery electric ones). They were coy about which models would be electrified, and certainly did not hint that the best-selling police SUV would be one of them. Ford is in its fourth generation of hybrid technology, which they discussed at their development center with members of the media this week in Dearborn, Michigan. Ford’s hybrid developments over the past few years have resulted in smaller and lighter controls and batteries, but with improved power, fuel economy and driving range.
Ford let the media take two laps on an autocross course set up at its proving grounds. The first thing you notice, once strapped into the fabric-covered seat, is how spartan the dash and interior are. The front seats have very small bolsters so as not to impede access for officers wearing a belt laden with their gun, radio and other tools of their trade. Anti-stab plates are inside the front seats for protection from back seat passengers. The rear bench seat and floor are vinyl for easy clean-up.
Ready To Go From the Factory
Ford is marketing the Explorer Police Interceptor with a base $41,000 MSRP that comes with factory-sealed wiring and lighting packages, allowing each police department to build-out the electronics, computers and other systems to meet their specific needs. What it does come with made for an exhilarating couple of laps.
The Police Interceptor Utility is a rear-wheel drive vehicle that the computer seamlessly engages the front wheels when maximum torque and traction are called for. The first thing I noticed were the outstanding brakes, which on first use nearly launched me through the windshield. A quick learning curve made the rest of the course very manageable to drive hard. The AWD could be felt as the wheels were biting to stay planted around sweeping arc turns. We’re familiar with the consumer version of the Explorer, and the Police Interceptor has been finely engineered and tuned for performance driving. It also has a 10-speed automatic transmission and a 5,000-pound tow rating. The full-time Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system has driver-controlled modes for snow and sand. A fuel economy number of 24 mpg combined is a significant improvement from even the current Ford Police Interceptor Utility. With the Explorer Police Interceptor being able to idle in electric mode, police departments will save thousands of dollars annually in fuel costs and engine maintenance.
The lithium-ion battery pack has been mounted under the rear seat so as to not take up any cargo space. This battery placement also adds to a low center of gravity, something tall SUVs are not known for. Safety for the occupants is paramount for Ford, as the safety cell construction includes ultra-high strength boron steel and crumple zones. There are steel cross bars in the rear to protect against a 75-mph rear-impact collision, exceeding the Federal requirement of 50-mph.
Dating back to 1950, Ford became the first manufacturer to offer a police package vehicle, keying on safety, durability and performance. There is no doubt that law enforcement departments around the country will be clamoring to add the Police Interceptor Utility to their fleet. The 1,100 orders before any test drives have been offered are a good indication the Explorer Hybrid Police Interceptor is a popular concept and will be in high demand.
Clean Fleet Report will have a review of the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid in the coming month. We are very interested in how the consumer version compares to its Police Interceptor Utility sibling. We are confident it will stand up very well.
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