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Another police vehicle to look out for in a year's time. Start learning them now!When Ford took the wraps off of its Taurus-based Police Interceptor sedan earlier this year, we were told that a second, utility-oriented police pursuit vehicle would be coming down the pipeline. Enter the Police Interceptor Utility, based off the 2011 Explorer crossover. A Flex-styled paddy wagon would have been cool, but the Explorer's higher ground clearance makes it more versatile for law enforcement officials who require all-terrain capability.
Unlike the sedan, which will be available with two different powertrains, the Explorer Interceptor only comes with Ford's 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6, delivering "at least 280" horsepower and mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Both front- and all-wheel-drive configurations are available, and it appears that the Explorer's terrain management system will not be offered on the Police Interceptor. The latest host of driver aids like curve control and Ford's AdvanceTrac Roll Stability Control are standard on the Interceptor Utility, as are larger brakes, a tougher suspension and 18-inch steel wheels.
Inside, new seats have been fitted up front with reductions in side bolstering to accommodate an officer's utility belt, and the gear shifter is now mounted on the column in order to provide space for computer equipment in the center console. Much like the Taurus Interceptor, Ford specifically designed the spacing between the seats to ensure that existing police equipment can be carried over to the new vehicles without issue. Things aren't exactly luxurious in the rear seats (duh), but occupants out back do get their own climate control system (Ford says this is ideal for K9 units) as well as stab plates in the front seat backs to keep the driver and passenger safe.
Ford has also gone the extra step to rework some of the Explorer's interior functions to better suit police needs. The steering wheel buttons, for example, are remappable and can be programmed to operate a host of auxiliary functions (lights, sirens, etc.). What's more, Ford's SYNC system is on hand and can be used to voice-activate the different police communication and audio equipment.
Don't expect to see the Police Interceptor Utility out on the road until 2012 at the earliest. Ford says that production will begin in late 2011 alongside the sedan at the automaker's Chicago assembly plant.