The boys in blue are getting an updated version of their Ford Explorer, the Police Interceptor Utility. The changes follow those of the revised civilian version due out for 2016, with a reworked front and rear fascia and an updated interior. Beyond that, the PIU gets specific upgrades that police departments have requested such as an individual unlock button on the rear hatch, an enhanced electrical system to handle all the added equipment, and an innovative motion detection system that automatically locks the doors and rolls up the windows should anyone approach the vehicle from behind on foot.

What’s more, the ESC now includes tuning to allow for J-turns – those snappy, 180-degree rotations from reverse to drive without slowing down or changing direction of travel. Nice.

Since the death of the beloved Crown Victoria, the Taurus and Explorer have stepped in as replacements and in doing, have taken over 55 percent of the police interceptor market. That’s not hard to believe considering the limited number of vehicles fit for duty, but is an impressive number nonetheless.

So how does the PIU stack up? Keep reading to find out.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Ford Police Interceptor Utility.

  • 2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    V6
  • Transmission:
    six-speed automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    304
  • Torque @ RPM:
    279
  • Displacement:
    3.7 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    165 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    40000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • body style:

Exterior

2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility High Resolution Exterior
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First off, you have a new headlight signature to learn. The Explorer’s front fascia has been revised to include new headlights and lower fog lights. The wig-wag lights are now moved to the incandescent high-beam bulb, leaving the low-beam bulbs alone. The daytime running lights feature a sideways L-shape with the longer section running along the top of the light. Out back, new taillights mirror the shape of the front fog lights. The C-shape within the red section houses the reverse lights.

Like most cop cars, alloy wheels are skipped in favor of 18-inch stamped steelies. In this case, they’re painted black and feature a bright center hubcap and are wrapped in Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires. Ford says the wheels provide excellent ventilation for the upgraded disc brakes.

Because each department requires different upfit equipment, Ford sends each PIU down the road less than a mile from the assembly plant to Troy Design, a company owned by Ford that adds everything from light bars and A-pillar lights, to custom wrap jobs and the interior partition. The company will even outfit the front doors with Level III ballistic shields for added security during a gun fight.

Interior

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2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility Interior
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2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility Interior
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Things on the inside take after the standard Explorer, but only to an extent. The center console is gone, replaced by a metal housing for radios and emergency light switches. A laptop stand is perched on the passenger side. For this reason, Ford adds a column-mounted gear shifter for better space management. The seats are covered in tough cloth while the floors are covered in vinyl.

Ford added a specialized button above the rearview mirror for unlocking just the rear hatch, leaving the second-row passengers secured. A timer relocks the gate after 45 seconds if it hasn’t been opened. Besides that, the interior has a revised dashboard that houses a calibrated and certified speedometer and the optional SYNC system.

Also optional is the Blind Sport Information System, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and that industry-exclusive person direction system that secures the vehicle if someone walks up behind it. When the system trips, the windows roll up and the doors lock, keeping the occupants safe from unseen threats.

Drivetrain

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Like before, Ford offers two powertrain options with the PIU. The standard engine is the 3.7-liter, naturally aspirated, V-6. It puts out 304 horsepower and 279 pound-feet of torque. The optional and more desirable engine is the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6. It cranks out an impressive 365 horses and 350 pound-feet of torque. Both transverse-mounted engines are mated to a six-speed automatic and the AWD system.

New for 2016 is the Pursuit Mode programming within the transmission. Regardless of engine choice, the vehicle detects when the driver is driving more aggressively and automatically enters the performance-oriented mode. Shifts are executed with greater sharpness and gears are held longer. This is also where the J-turn programming comes into effect. By accelerating hard in reverse then cutting the wheel hard, the vehicle’s front end spins around. Slamming the transmission into drive and steering into the spin results in a seamless transition from reverse to forward without stopping. While this isn’t likely to happen on a regular basis, it’s nice to know the electronic stability controls and transmission are up for the maneuver.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type 3.7-liter V-6 3.5-liter EcoBoost® V-6
Output 304 HP 365 HP
Torque 279 LB-FT 350 LB-FT

Upgraded Underpinnings

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Just like on the Bluesmobile, the Explorer PIU comes equipped with cop suspension and cop shocks, among other upgraded parts. The stock powertrain mounts are all swapped for heavy-duty units, as are the hubs and wheel bearings. The subframe mounts are reinforced as well, as are the springs – swapped for larger-diameter examples. The cooling systems for both engines are upgraded as well, ensuring they don’t overheat during high-speed driving or while idling in the hot summer sun.

Competition

Dodge Charger Pursuit

2015 Dodge Charger Pursuit High Resolution Exterior
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Though it’s not a utility vehicle, the Dodge Charger Pursuit represents a huge player in the police vehicle market. Powered by either the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 or the venerable 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, the Charger provides excellent in-town drivability and fuel economy or excellent high-speed capabilities. Unlike the civilian Charger, the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission is not offered. Rather the old five-speed automatic pulls the duty. Either way, the car cones standard in RWD with AWD being an option – even with the HEMI.

Chevrolet Caprice PPV

2014 Chevrolet Caprice PPV High Resolution Exterior
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Basically a Chevy SS with a stretched wheelbase and a less attractive appearance, the Caprice offers the same Zeta platform underpinning the SS, the old Pontiac G8, and even the current Camaro. Interestingly enough, the Caprice is built in Australia, technically making it an import car and unfit for duty in some American-brand-requiring police departments.

Also unfortunate for the Caprice is its powertrain. GM uses the old 6.0-liter V-8 that only produces 355 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. While it’s still a respectable LS engine, it’s power doesn’t match that of the Chevy SS which comes equipped with the 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 making 415 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque.

Also available is the 3.6-liter V-6 for those departments looking to save on fuel costs. Either way, the Caprice is a competent police cruiser with plenty of available options.

Conclusion

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The updated to the 2016 Ford Explorer PIU make it even more prepared for duty. The upgraded transmission calibrations combined with the new interior and electronic improvement make this rolling office more functional for those who drive it. A respectable pair of V-6 engines and AWD make the PIU a solid choice for departments needing more room than a standard sedan provides.

The added benefit of optional armor plating in the doors gives police officers an even stronger chance to return home after righting crime while the optional SYNC system provides more creature comforts for those times between calls.

While it doesn’t have a 440 cubic-inch plant, this police cruiser offers enough upgrades to make even the Blues Brothers happy. Now where’s the nearest draw bridge?

  • Leave it
    • Likely expensive
    • Seats don’t feature cut-outs for utility belts
    • Might be found in your rearview mirror

Press Release

Ford will unveil the 2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicle at the Chicago Auto Show this Thursday, kicking off a new chapter for the utility that has changed the face of law enforcement.

2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility Exterior
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Since its introduction in 2012, Police Interceptor Utility quickly became America’s best-selling police vehicle, helping Ford capture 55 percent of the U.S. law enforcement vehicle market.

The 2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility was developed with input from the Ford Police Advisory Board to handle the extreme rigors of police duty. In the business of fighting crime, performance and durability are king. Ford Police Interceptor Utility is the only Pursuit Rated midsize utility vehicle; Ford’s utility and sedan versions are the only Pursuit Rated vehicles with standard all-wheel drive.

“Our Police Interceptor Utility is the best-selling police vehicle in America because we have a unique relationship with our customers,” said Jonathan Honeycutt, Ford North American marketing manager for Police Vehicles. “By listening to the Ford Police Advisory Board, we have engineered a vehicle that officers love.”

2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility Exterior
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Customer-driven innovation
To create the most innovative law enforcement vehicles, Ford listened to the experts.

The Police Advisory Board was created by Ford to refine and develop future products that meet the needs of law enforcement agencies. The board, created in 2000, consists of a rotating panel of 25 experts from the law enforcement community. The group has supplied Ford with customer feedback and served as a pilot group for products, programs and services.

The 2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility features a new front and rear design, new headlamps, a new instrument panel and an enhanced electrical system to distribute electrical loads more efficiently.

Available Surveillance Mode technology warns the driver when someone approaches the rear of the vehicle. Upon detection, the driver’s window automatically raises and all doors lock. Ford is the first manufacturer to bring this innovative feature to market.

As a direct response to customer feedback, Ford added a liftgate release switch, accessible to occupants in the front. It allows the rear liftgate mechanism to remain unlocked for 45 seconds before timing out, permitting officers to access the cargo area.

A rear camera with washer is standard for the 2016 model with a 4-inch screen in the center stack. As an option, the view from the camera can be seen in the rearview mirror.

Ford Police Interceptor Utility comes standard with a 3.7-liter V6 producing 304 horsepower and 279 lb.-ft. of torque, while an available 3.5-liter EcoBoost® V6 makes 365 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque, allowing agencies to select the engine that best meets their patrol requirements. Police Interceptor Utility’s standard all-wheel drive is designed to deliver low-speed traction and high-speed handling and stability.

2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility Interior
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“From the heavy-duty suspension and powertrain offerings, to the unique steering and transmission calibrations, Ford Police Interceptor Utility is built to provide any law enforcement agency a vehicle ready to meet extremely demanding needs,” said Arie Groeneveld, chief engineer for the new Police Interceptor Utility.

Both engines have been calibrated to meet extreme test requirements defined by the Michigan State Police and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Tests include aggressive driving on road courses and racetracks, braking and acceleration, top speed and city pursuit testing.

In both Police Interceptor models, the standard six-speed transmission features a unique Pursuit Mode specifically programmed for law enforcement use. The transmission automatically switches from normal, fuel-saving operation to Pursuit Mode when it detects aggressive driving situations, based on brake line pressure, deceleration and lateral acceleration rates.

Once in Pursuit Mode, the upshift and downshift performance of the transmission is optimized for aggressive driving, returning to fuel-save mode when it senses the aggressive driving is complete. The software is tuned to perform a reverse J-turn, which is when a reversing vehicle is spun 180 degrees and continues, face forward, without changing direction of travel.

In addition to unique cooling systems designed for extreme use, Police Interceptor also features custom-developed brakes designed to withstand excessive use. The 18-inch steel wheels have high venting characteristics to help cool the brakes.

The vehicle has been designed to stand up to the demands of police work, with heavy-duty powertrain mounts, reinforced subframe mounts and unique hubs and bearings. Larger-diameter springs are used in the suspension. The upgrades help ensure every Police Interceptor model can handle the extreme rigors of law enforcement work. Even the tires are specifically designed to meet durability and pursuit standards, with some departments logging as many as 50,000 miles per year.

The unibody structure of Police Interceptor Utility features boron steel in the A-pillar and a hydroformed, high-strength steel tube that runs the width of the vehicle to improve structural rigidity. Interior and exterior dimensions remain the same for the 2016 model.

Designed in Dearborn, built in Chicago
Police Interceptor Utility and Police Interceptor Sedan are sold in more than 80 markets around the world, but built in the heartland of America, at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant. Once initial work is completed at Chicago Assembly Plant, the vehicles are transported less than a mile away to Troy Design and Manufacturing to be upfitted with law enforcement equipment.

2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility Interior
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A wholly owned subsidiary of Ford, Troy Design and Manufacturing operates out of a 54,000-square-foot facility, where approximately 200 workers bring Police Interceptor vehicles to life. Law enforcement agencies can select from 125 packages, which include a variety of lighting options, wraps and styles. Last year, an estimated 269,000 police-duty accessories were installed on 36,000 vehicles before shipping to police departments across the globe.

One of the most important and recognizable features of Police Interceptor are the lights. The 2016 Police Interceptor Utility allows agencies to choose from up to 25 different patterns. The lights are now better integrated into the new front and rear fascia, allowing for a more seamless design and a stealthier look for patrol duty.

2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility High Resolution Exterior
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In a nod to police vehicle nostalgia, Ford added a blinking white function called “wig-wag” to the incandescent high-beam light bulbs.

Other key technologies available on Ford Police Interceptor Utility:

Ballistic shields built to Level III specifications determined by the National Institute of Justice Standard, factory-installed in the driver and passenger doors for additional protection against gunfire

SYNC®, a hands-free information technology so officers can operate various communication and audio equipment by voice control

Available Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®), which uses two radar sensors located in the rear quarter panels to detect vehicles in the surrounding lanes. If a vehicle enters the driver’s blind spot zones, the system alerts the driver with a warning light in the sideview mirror

Available cross-traffic alert, which uses existing BLIS radar modules to sense oncoming traffic when slowly backing out of a parking spot. The system functions only while the vehicle is in reverse and warns when cross traffic appears within three car-widths

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Available Reverse Sensing System, which emits an audible tone to alert the driver to certain objects up to 6 feet behind the vehicle

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