Getting Used to the Police Interceptor Sedan
A look at what's powering those new police cars you're likely seeing.
My driver’s license just turned 16 last week. It’s something of a milestone — the thing I most lusted after when I was 16, turned 16.
Man, I'm getting old.
After 16 years of motoring, I — and I’m sure everyone else — have developed a Pavlovian response to three things: red lights, school zones and Crown Vics. After seeing one of these three, my brain and my right foot work in harmony to find that middle pedal as quickly as possible.
Now I've got to change my habits.
Several municipalities in my area have started to phase out the Ford Crown Victoria for both government and police use. I’ve noticed local officials driving around in everything from Ford Fusion hybrids to Chevrolet Sonics — which makes sense, by the way, as the Crown Vic wasn’t exactly a fuel sipper. But, as it’s hard to fit a suspected criminal in the back seat of a Sonic, many local police agencies have traded in their aging Crown Victorias — which Ford stopped making in 2011 (and in 2008 for non-cab-driving civilians) — for new Ford Police Interceptor sedans.
Ford said it controls 75 percent of the market when it comes to law enforcement vehicles. That figure’s not surprising, as the company has been building the last-generation Crown Victoria for about 20 years. Under the hood of those? Ford’s venerable 4.6-liter V8, which put out about 250 hp. Saving you a trip to the calculator, that’s about 54 horsepower per liter (I can picture “Top Gear’s” Jeremy Clarkson rolling his eyes right now). Fuel economy for that car hovered around the 15 mpg mark in the city. I’m no criminal, but every car I’ve owned since my first car — a sub-100 hp 1988 Toyota Corolla — could have outrun one of these Crown Vics … and wouldn’t have had to stop for gas as frequently.
But I suppose if it ain’t broke …
It’s surprising that Dodge or Chevy didn’t try to steal some of the market from Ford in the late ’90s or early 2000s. Chevy’s Caprice, which I’ve seen referred to as a “whale on roller skates,” left the picture in the mid ’90s. Chevy now has its Impala, and Dodge joined the fray with its Charger, but none of those cars looks as purpose built as the new Ford.
The new Interceptor is pretty imposing, and dare I say, good looking with its sharper creases. It’s also got some pretty neat technology built into it. According to Ford literature, the Taurus-based car (which has no “Taurus” badging) is rear-crash tested to 75 mph, has 18-inch wheels with 245/55 rubber, upgraded brakes and, my favorite, anti-stab plate seat backs.
The biggest change to the new car is that it’s front-wheel drive (with the option of all-wheel drive) compared to the outgoing Crown Vic’s rear-wheel drive layout.
And Ford finally ditched its tired 4.6-liter engine in favor of three V6s — a 3.5-lter, putting out 288 hp; a 3.7-liter cribbed from the base Mustang, which puts out a little over 300 hp; and a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter which makes 365 hp — that’s a staggering 104 horsepower per liter. The turbocharged unit is good for a 0-60 run of 6.2 seconds, according to “Car and Driver.” And each of these engines gets better fuel economy than the Crown Vic, which is good for these municipalities.
These new cars are going to take some getting used to — and I mean by me. Seeing the silhouette of the old, long and flabby Crown Vic (usually hiding in the bushes or something) has always been kind of exciting — it was like spotting a toupee. Now, we’ll all have to get used to laying off the skinny pedal when we see these white Tauruses.
If you've got an interesting car, or know of any car events coming up in the area, shoot me an email at email@example.com.