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When you think of a police car, what vehicle comes to mind? The first modern police car was actually the Chevrolet Bel Air, which came with a V8 engine that was considered quite innovative at the time. Other tough cop cars include the Taurus, Caprice, and the iconic Crown Victoria.

The nature of police work has changed over the years. Cops need to have the most powerful and reliable vehicles to do their job. A 2016 study shows that a new model has become the most popular police car: the Ford Police Interceptor Utility, or as we know it, a Ford Explorer. There are a few reasons why the latest Ford Explorer is suited for police work.


Depending on the nature of their assigned tasks, a cop could spend their whole day inside of their car. The Ford Explorer’s seats are roomy and made with soft, plush material, perfect for long hours on patrol. The driver’s seat has padded armrests and is power-adjustable for maximum comfort.

Three passengers can fit in the back, police supplies like medical kits and fire extinguishers have plenty of room. The Police Interceptor’s unique features include a stab-proof plate on the back of the front seats as well as bulletproof doors.

Engine and performance

Police officers have two engine options for the Ford Interceptor. The base V6 3.7-liter engine is capable of 304 hp and 279 lb-ft of torque. An upgraded V6 3.5-liter Ecoboost is also available with 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. The latter is even more optimized for police pursuit, with an acceleration of 0 to 60 miles per hour in under six seconds.

Independent front and rear-end suspensions allow cops to have the best handling behind the wheel. Interceptor models also come equipped with police-calibrated 6-speed automatic transmission, an enhanced cooling system, and all-wheel-drive.

Safety features

Due to the dangerous nature of police work, the Police Interceptor is built with many features to protect officers. Ford Explorers are known for their safety and reliability. But the Interceptor is on another level. This special Ford Explorer comes with stronger 18-inch steel wheels. It has police-spec tires, power side-view and blind-spot mirrors, and the staple emergency lights on top of the vehicle.

It has a more powerful 220-amp alternator and power-assisted steering. The brakes are calibrated to police standards, with a 4-wheel heavy-duty disc and ABS. Dash and rearview cameras come in every base police Explorer. It has advanced traction control and an SOS Post-Crash Alert System that activates lights and horns in an accident.

Police Interceptors also have a StarChase system, which comes with tiny GPS monitors that can attach themselves to fleeing suspect cars at high speeds. If the pursuit gets too dangerous, the officer can stop the chase and easily track the suspect after the dust has settled.

Ford and police cars

It’s been nearly 100 years since police officers chose Ford as their go-to car in 1932. While Dodge and Chrysler have produced successful police cars, officers have had the longest relationship with Ford. It was the first automaker to offer specialized squad cars with enhanced speed, power, and durability.

It’s obvious why the Ford Explorer is the most popular police car, given its safety features, construction, and performance. Ford has also announced a hybrid version of the police trim, a Fusion, for later this year.