July 18

Why Ford Interceptor is the Most Distinguished Police Vehicle


Last Updated on August 18, 2022

There’s a good reason why the Ford Interceptor is the most distinguished police vehicle. Several reasons, in fact. The Ford Police Interceptor is a moniker that’s been passed down from one generation of Ford vehicles serving police forces to another. The first time Ford used that moniker was in 1951 to describe their optional flathead V-8, 110-hp engine. 

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Ford Motor Company was the first commercial automaker to create a line of vehicles specifically designed for police fleets. The name “Interceptor” wasn’t used until Ford introduced the Crown Victoria in 1992. Only then did Ford, law enforcement agencies, and the public start calling them “Interceptors”. Internally, the company referred to its line designed for police, taxi, and fleet vehicles with a “P72” production code.  

The first interceptors

When Ford first released the Crown Victoria (1992), it was the largest sedan marketed by Ford in North America, slotted above the Ford Taurus. The vehicle came equipped with a 4.6-liter, 190-hp Ford Modular V8 engine, and a four-speed automatic transmission. The vehicle could accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour (mph) in 9.6 seconds and had a maximum speed of 124 mph.

Ford restyled the second generation (1998-2011) of Ford Crown Victorias by using the more conservative stylings of the Mercury Grand Marquis. Whereas the first generation had been based on the popular Ford Ltd. Crown Victoria (1979-1991). This new generation vehicle possessed a body on frame design, which was favored by law enforcement agencies. When Ford’s competitors switched to a unibody design for their police vehicle lines, many law enforcement agencies switched to purchasing Ford vehicles for their fleets.

The second generation of Crown Victorias originally included a V-8 4.6-liter, 200-hp Ford Modular engine that could accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds, and it had a maximum speed of 129 mph.

New bodies and body options

For the third generation of Ford Police Interceptors (2012), the company switched to the Ford Taurus as the base model and introduced a police SUV based on the Ford Explorer model to meet the growing demand for SUVs on police fleets. The SUV became known as the Police Interceptor Utility, and the sedan became known as the Police Interceptor Sedan. 

The Police Interceptor Sedan (2012) came standard with either a naturally-aspirated 3.5-liter, 263-hp V6 engine or the EcoBoost 3.5-liter, 263-hp V6 engine. Although, a 3.7-liter, 310-hp aluminum-block V6 engine—the same engine on the Ford Mustang—shortly became available as an upgrade. All versions came with all-wheel drive, however, on the naturally-aspirated 3.5-liter version, front-wheel drive was an option.

The 3.5-liter engines could accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just 6.8 seconds and had a top speed of 150 mph. The 3.7-liter engine could accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds and had a top speed of 157 mph. 

Ford considered ending production of the Taurus in the US in 2015, but fleet sales of the vehicle were so popular, the company kept producing the car for another four years.

Ford discontinued the Ford Taurus in 2019, but have continued using the Ford Explorer as the base model for the Police Interceptor Utility. This has replaced the sedan as their “purpose-built” police vehicle. And instead of introducing another sedan, they introduced a truck—the Ford F-150 Police Responder.

The 2022 Ford Interceptor Utility comes available with three engine options: a 3.3-liter, 265-hp HEV AWD (all-wheel drive), a 3.3-liter, 285 hp Direct-Injection FFV AWD, and a 3.0-liter, 400-hp twin-turbo EcoBoost AWD. 

The 2022 Ford Interceptor (EcoBoost engine) can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and has a top speed of 148 mph.

Ford Interceptor stats infographic

Ford Interceptor vs. Ford Explorer

Although the Ford Police Interceptor Utility is built on a Ford Explorer; they’re not spec’d the same way as each other. 

For example, most retail versions of the Explorer (base model XLT) come equipped with a 2.3-liter, 300-hp turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine, which isn’t nearly as fast as its police fleet counterpart.

There are other notable differences (besides police identification signage and a light bar) both inside and outside the vehicle. 

Beginning with the exterior, most Ford Explorers come equipped with a roof rack, however Interceptors don’t. Interceptors also lack any chrome trim and fog lights. And interceptors have numerous black markings, including the grille, headlight bezels, 18-inch steel wheels, and door handles, which are often chrome, the color of the SUV, or another color other than black.   

Inside the cab, there are distinct changes. When sitting in the driver’s seat, and once you get past the overhead consoles, L-shape consoles, vertical consoles, and in-dash computers, you will notice the transmission shifter isn’t on the floor where it is on the retail model. It’s fastened to the steering column. This creates more room on that floor area for more equipment. 

Behind the driver’s seat, on the Ford Interceptor, there’s only one row of seats, which allows for a lot of trunk space. The vehicle seats five people. The Explorer comes equipped with three rows of seats and accommodates seven people.

The Ford Police Interceptor comes available with a few features not available in the Explorer that can’t be seen. For example, in the Interceptor, the driver can manually activate the rear view camera even when not in reverse. And the Interceptor can be equipped with a Police Perimeter Alert, which “scans” a 270-degree field behind the vehicle, sounds an alert, and activates the rear view camera. 

Can you buy a Ford Police Interceptor? 

After considering some of the pros and cons to buying a police vehicle, you may want to purchase your own Ford Police Interceptor. Once law enforcement agencies have put in certain mileage or owned vehicles for a certain amount of years, they will sell their used fleet via auction and purchase new vehicles. However, all of the police package features bump up the price by about 25 percent or $10,000 if you can manage to find one from the year 2020 or later.

Once you’re confident a police vehicle is what you’re after, consider a budget, make a plan, then find an available auction. You can start your search with Municibid where you’ll find police cruisers along with other police-themed municipal items!


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