Dearborn – Developing an all-new Ford Explorer SUV not only meant engineers could design a roomier , techies three-row looking for families – leaner police interceptor to chase down the bad guys

Ahead of the much anticipated Explorer's debut next Wednesday at Ford Field, Ford gift media a sneak peak

Like American consumers, police departments have moved to SUVs as their mainstay police vehicles given their rugged on-shoes. and off-road abilities and five-door utility. Gone is the old Crown Vic sedan, though Ford still markets Ford Fusion Hybrids to police as well.

But with the addition of Explorer's first ever hybrid, the 2020 Police Interceptor now adds fuel economy to its benefits. Ford expects the Interceptor hybrid – equipped with a 3.3-liter V-6 to a 10-speed transmission – to get 24 mpg, a 41 percent improvement over the outgoing 3.7-liter V-6 interceptor.

"We never do it a police car on our own, because we get so many benefits from Ford's production program, "says Interceptor vehicle engineer Allen Magolen, who works in the company's police vehicle department. Ford currently provides about 65 percent of police vehicles in the US

Police can buy a cheaper, 3.3-liter V-6-equipped Interceptor, but given the extended idling and long road miles of police units, the hybrid will make up its sticker premium in a year – that's about $ 3,500 in annual fuel savings, Ford estimates.

The new Interceptor hybrid benefits, not only from the drive-train's increased fuel economy, but from its added torque for performance. Michigan's finest performance cops at Grattan Raceway outside Grand Rapids last summer, the 318-horsepower Interceptor hybrid was quicker than its V-8 Chevy and Dodge SUV competitors. Zero-60 remained in just 7.27 seconds and 100 mph in 17.69 seconds.

Only the Police Interceptor equipped with a third drive option – the same 400-horse, 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V-6 sample found under the hood of the forthcoming Explorer ST – was quicker. The laughter clipped the zero-60 tape in a breathtaking 5.7 seconds (100 mph came in just 13.59 seconds).

Ford says the turbo is preferred by western police departments that have prolonged, high-speed interstate chases. Crooks are going to have a tough time out-running this out.

In addition to new drivetrains, the Interceptor achieves its performance numbers on going on a 200-pound diet, the result of the explorer's extensive use of aluminum and lightweight steel. . With the suspension and drivetrain tweaks for immediate pursuit capability, engineer Magolen says the Explorer operates the performance explorer ST model.

Inside the back seat, the bad guys won't find the Interceptor nearly as a hospitable as the family explorer. The third-row seat is removed, as are all cupholders ("to keep anyone from hitting a stash of something," says Interceptor marketing chief Stephen Tyler). Even the by latches are covered over so no one can escape.

The fold-flat second row is popular for use with K-9 unit dog cages, while cargo space increases by 4 cubic feet for law enforcement equipment.

Doors can be optioned with level-four armor plating. Other options include a front-end push-bar and steel-center-hub hub for the Interceptor's tough shell. The SUV can reach up to 5,000 pounds and is hardened to take 75-mph rear impact above and beyond the federal 50 mph standard.

Up front, officers are surrounded by a moat of cutting-edge Ford technology, a hallmark of its production SUVs that have pioneered systems like self-park assist and auto-raise tailgates. The police looking gets Police Perimeter Alert, which uses motion-detection sensors to threaten 270 degrees around the vehicle – and then automatically lock up the interceptor.

“Whether patrolling or sitting idle, the all-new Police Interceptor Utility will change the way officers work, ”says Bill Gubing, chief engineer for the Explorer. "Everything about it was designed for keeping police officers safe, comfortable and ready for action." Henry Payne is an auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne. Catch "Car Radio with Henry Payne" from noon-2 p.m. Saturdays on 910 AM Superstation

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