Why Ford's New Hybrid Police Car Is a "Responder" and Not an "Interceptor" 

Interceptors are rated for a rear-end impact of 75 mph, while the Responders are tested for 55 mph, according to Ford.

Max Goldberg

Since the keys to the earliest first generation Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors were handed to North American police departments 25 years ago, Ford has maintained a comfortable status as one of the primary police fleet car companies on the continent. Since then, its pursuit vehicle fleet has expanded, and for the first time ever, that group includes a hybrid—though it wears a slightly different badge than the Ford police vehicles that motorists have come to fear.

The Police Responder Hybrid Sedan, as Ford calls it, was announced Monday just before the New York International Auto Show this week. It's based on the current Fusion sedan, is rated for 38 miles per gallon combined city and highway, and according to Ford, is "pursuit-rated." But unlike most of the Ford police vehicles we're familiar with, it wears a "POLICE RESPONDER" badge instead of a "POLICE INTERCEPTOR" badge. 

Unlike the Ford Taurus-based Police Interceptor Sedan and the Explorer-based Police Interceptor Utility, as well as the long-gone Crown Vic Police Interceptor, the Responder's rear-end has been crash-test rated to a lower, but still solid standard. Ford rates the Responder to be safe for a 55-mile-per-hour rear-end impact, while the Interceptors are apparently good for 75 mph. 

Ford spokesman Mike Levine explained that the Responder Hybrid is aimed more at local city police departments that are less likely to be involved in dangerous situations that could lead to their cars getting struck at highway speeds, like highway patrol units often are. 

"If you think about the applications for an Interceptor, it's better suited for highway patrol work," said Levine. "If you're parked on the side of a freeway, you're more likely to get hit by someone from behind at 75 mph. The Police Responder is ideal for more urban policing."

In a brochure for its interceptors, Ford calls its own 75-mph test "extreme," claiming its the only company that has police vehicles that are built to withstand a 75-mph rear impact. 

According to Ford's website, Ford manages the 75-mph capability by packing a full-size spare in the spare tire well and by using what it calls its "side protection and cabin enhancement architecture" to fortify the structural integrity of the car.

For more on the Hybrid Responder, check out The Drive's Facebook Live with the car from the floor of the New York International Auto Show.