If you have thought that the ubiquitous Ford Police Interceptor SUVs can’t move as you pass by, think again. According to a story in TopSpeed magazine, the Interceptor, which, without the police IDs and lights, looks like any other Ford Explorer, is one of the fastest vehicles on the road.
SUV Goes From Mild-Mannered to Beast
The Ford Police Interceptor Utility package takes a mild-mannered SUV and turns it into a fire-breathing monster. TopSpeed notes that “The fastest cop car today is not what you might expect, and this car is everywhere. It is the Ford Police Interceptor Utility, which is the best-selling Police vehicle in America.”
TopSpeed notes that “because of the similarities between the Interceptor Utility EcoBoost and the Ford Explorer, many people confuse these two SUVs.”
The performance publication notes that while there are other high-speed police vehicles on the road “like the Dodge Charger Pursuit, it is the Ford Police Interceptor Utility with a whopping 148 mph top Speed, which is the fastest cop car today.”
In more ways the Interceptor package is a huge performer. The “SUV can shoot from a standstill to 60 mph in under six seconds, which is arguable one of the most important statistics for a police vehicle because the majority of their cases will be short distances.” The publication also notes that the “ones that do end up going long, end in a crash by the criminal being chased due to a lack of driving skills or by the help of a well-placed hit from a reinforced police bumper.”
Fast And Fuel-Efficient Powertrains The Reason
Just why is a 5,793-pound heavyweight so quick, TopSpeed asked. The publication noted that the engine isn’t huge but turbocharged. The key to its speed is in the turbocharging. The Police Interceptor package uses a different calibration for its turbocharging. The Police Interceptor package uses zn EcoBoost turbo “designed to chase down criminals.”
So that the Police Interceptor package can give the Explorer the punch that it needs to run down scofflaws, the “standard powertrain includes a 3.3-liter V-6 hybrid” that cranks out 318 horsepower and 322 pounds-feet of torque. Interestingly, its hybrid tech is regenerative. In other words, as the Explorer slows, the SUV captures the energy that is normally lost “during braking, idling, and coasting.”
As TopSpeed points out, a regenerative braking system is important because roughly 60 percent of a Police Interceptor utility’s life is spent “idling.” This is especially important for the Interceptor because the electronics that a modern police cruiser carries rely heavily on recovered power.
The Police Interceptor package is known as a “mild” hybrid. The recaptured power is used to charge a 48-volt lithium-ion battery. This kind of system has two advantages. First, it is good for the environment, TopSpeed points out, and second, it “leads to considerable savings in terms of fuel costs, up to $3,509 annually.”
Engine Performance Figures Listed
Here’s a list of the types of power teams available in the Police Interceptor Utility package.
Engine Horsepwer Torque 0 to 60 Top End Fuel Eff.
3.3-liter Direct-Injection V-6
3.3-liter HEV V-6 Hybrid
If you were to choose only a “gas-only variant,” you would find a significant power drop. The power output drops to 285 horsepower and 260 pounds-feet of torque. The more powerful 3.0-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine cranks out 400 horsepower and 415 pounds-feet of torque. The 3.0-liter V-6 gives the Interceptor its punch and makes it the fastest police vehicle.
As TopSpeed notes, Ford stated that the Police Interceptor utility package “outperformed V-8-equipped police cars from competitors.” The Interceptor uses an intelligent all-wheel-drive system that is “police-calibrated.” The AWD system pushes the power to the road through a 10-speed automatic.
The Police Interceptor Package was put through its paces by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the Michigan State Police. The two outfits have done this work for many years. They put the vehicles through their paces with the usual:
- Acceleration Runs
- Top Speed Numbers
- Lap Times
In each test, the Police Interceptor was number one. Another publication, Police Mag, the Interceptor, “with a 0-60 MPH time of 5.68 seconds and a top speed of 148, was both the quickest and fastest cop car among gas-powered models, beating out the V-8 HEMI-power Dodge Charger’s top speed of 140 mph.”
Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971. His automotive articles have appeared in venues including Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, and others. You can follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.