Like many of you “spirited” drivers, I respect and fear the Ford Crown Victoria. Since the Chevrolet Caprice retired in 1998, the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor has been the cruiser of choice for most precincts. According to Ford, 75% of all police cars are Crown Vics.
After 31 years of service, you probably know to hit your brakes for the roof-mounted emergency light bar, enormous taillights, and innocuous “Police Interceptor” badging on the black plastic rear. Nothing lasts forever, though, and Ford’s enduring “Panther” chassis is being phased out, meaning that the cops are set to receive new whips.
First, you’re probably wondering–why do the boys and girls in blue still rock the old-school?
Sure, the unibody underpinnings of modern family sedans are lighter and more fuel efficient. But the Crown Vic is a workhorse. When a cruiser gets damaged in a PIT maneuver on a perp, it’s cheap and easy to fix thanks to that body-on-frame construction. Although a few early cases of rear-impact combustion (source: SafetyForum.com) recall the Pinto, Ford’s post-2005 Crown Vic cruiser has been tested to withstand up to 75-mph rear crashes!
Equipped with “severe duty” suspension and a beefed-up cooling system, a typical Crown Vic can last well over 200,000 miles. Most of all, officers love its size, comfort and performance. Enormous amounts of confiscated drugs can fit in the trunk and the V8-powered rear-wheel drive sedan suits the Fuzz’s driving maneuvers well enough.
That being said, even Ford realizes that the times, they are a-changin’. Enter the 2012 Police Interceptor. Based on the full-size Taurus, Ford claims the new Police Interceptor will be safer, comfier and faster than its predecessor. The new cruiser adds a hostof advanced new safety gizmos like blind spot monitoring, rearview camera and electronic stability control.
More impressive is the ingenius product planning that went into the cabin, whose seatbacks were specially designed to accommodate bulky utility belts. The front-wheel drive powertrain produces predecessor-besting power while sipping only 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway and the crazy-fast all-wheel drive EcoBoost model gets 17/25 (still better than its predecessor’s 16/24). If you’re doing 80 in a 55 and see flashing lights from an EcoBoost beast, don’t even think about a high-speed chase. You can’t run OR hide.
The Chevrolet Police Patrol Vehicle’s optional V8 engine makes it part police cruiser and part muscle car. It’s based on a powerful sports sedan that’s sold in Australia and General Motors is counting on police officers to prefer to adrenaline-pumping drive of their car to the more relaxed feel of the Ford.
Sportiness can only get you so far, which is why this Chevy cruiser also has police-specific features, like cutouts in the seat for utility belts and a full-size interior with enough room for officers, equipment, and the occasional perp. But will it be cop-centric enough to win sales?
The freshest entry to law enforcement comes from Carbon Motors, who claims to be engineering the world’s first purpose-built police car. The E7 cruiser certainly contains a boatload of firsts, including stealthy built-in emergency lights. Speeders and perps on the lookout for a traditional roof-mounted light bar could be in for quite a surprise.
Precincts will be more pleasantly surprised by the E7’s targeted 250,000-mile target lifespan, and officers will love that it’s faster to sixty than a Volkswagen GTI. Integrated shotgun mounts and 360-degree license plate scanning will make criminals think twice (or 360 times!) about grand theft auto and a thrifty BMW-sourced diesel engine could get up to 35 miles per gallon on the highway.
The E7 is still under development and Carbon Motors will have to prove that it can fight crime in way that’s affordable for police fleets. No prices have been announced yet and some precincts are nervous about the repair costs on that high-tech diesel engine.
Whether police choose to secure the handcuffed inside the suicide (rear-hinged) rear doors of an E7 or the more traditional doors of a Ford or Chevy offering is anybody’s guess. Likely it’ll all depend on pricing, which remains unreleased for all three. With a whole slew of modern technology at their fingertips, tomorrow’s officers will be comfortable, quick, safe, and effective no matter which cruisers they choose. And I’ll sure be slowing down!