Ford’s New Interceptor Utility Police Car Is Stealthy
Looking for external light bars is no longer an option.
Scofflaws beware: Ford is helping police departments create ever-stealthier cars to patrol the nation’s mean streets. Or at least the high-school parking lot.
Forget the vintage spinning “cherry top” or other rooftop light bar that a speeder can spot like a billboard for Law and Order. With many departments opting for a sneakier approach, Ford is obliging with an ultra-low-profile, LED interior light bar for its popular Interceptor Utility. Ford says that aftermarket cabin light bars were stealing too much headroom, especially for taller officers.
“Officers said ‘We need this, and they look good from the outside, but I’m hitting my forehead on this thing,’” says Ford spokesman Chris Terry.
Ford’s slimmed-down solution packages snugly between the windshield and headliner, boosting headroom and outward visibility. Its alternating red-and-blue bars flash the classic, pull-your-ass-over warning that’s guaranteed to get even a minister on his way to Sunday service to pucker a bit. They can be programmed for single-color operation, adjust intensity or dim automatically, or go bright white to help illuminate an emergency or crime scene.
Built in Ford’s Chicago facility, the roomy, Explorer-based Interceptor SUV has displaced sedans to become the nation's most popular patrol vehicle, with just under 25,000 sales last year. Add another 9,800 Taurus-based Interceptor sedans and Ford is handcuffing the cop-car market with just over 60 percent of sales. Departments choose from a pair of naturally aspirated V6’s or, if they’re lucky, take chase with a 365-horsepower, 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 with standard AWD. That AWD capability is increasingly popular, Terry said, including in California jurisdictions where officers deal with plenty of grassy embankments, dirt roads, and desolate stretches.
Civilians may view stealthy or unmarked patrol cars as inherently unfair, but departments naturally see things differently.
“If people see the cop from 200 yards away, they slow down and put the phone or the joint down,” Terry says. “This allows police to observe drivers in their natural environment without helping them change their behavior.”