Ford Police Advisory Board...and Update on Police Interceptors

Ford’s Police Advisory Board met in Dearborn, Mich. just shortly after the first production shipments of their two NextGen police vehicles — the 2013 Police Interceptor Sedan and the 2013 Police Interceptor Utility. The PAB is made up of fleet managers, senior law enforcement officials, shop superintendents and EVOC instructors. Members of the PAB come from city, county, state and federal agencies and from all geographic regions of the U.S. and from Canada.

The PI Sedan comes standard as All-Wheel Drive, while Front-Wheel Drive is a $1,000 delete for credit. The two powertrains are 288 hp, 3.5L V6 and the 365 hp, 3.5L Eco Boost V6. The PI Utility also comes standard as AWD, while FWD is a $1,000 credit. The Utility PI is powered by a 304 hp, 3.7L V6. No other engines are available with the police package.

So far, over 80 percent of the Sedan PIs and 97 percent of the Utility PIs have been AWD. Of the PI Sedans, 85 percent have had the base V6 engine, while 15 percent have had the EcoBoost turbo V6. The current sales mix is 60:40, PI Sedan: PI Utility. Both are made at the Chicago Assembly Plant and have the highest Made-in-USA content of any police vehicles.

The PI Sedan and PI Utility share common service parts including tires, wheels, oil, oil filter, brake pads and brake rotors. Other common components include the battery, alternator, brake calipers, rear differential unit and seats.


The PI Sedan and PI Utility feature full-time All-Wheel-Drive. The AWD system for the PI Sedan and PI Utility is a continuously variable system that optimizes for efficiency by biasing torque to the front wheels during normal, retail-like driving. The AWD system distributes torque before wheel slip to ensure seamless acceleration on-demand in all driving conditions. When the system identifies wheel slip, additional torque can be commanded by the system, up to 40 percent torque to the rear axle. 

For traction on slippery surfaces like snow or rain covered streets, all available torque can be directed to the front or rear axle. Paired with AdvanceTrac™ electronic stability control, the systems work in harmony to transfer torque front-to-rear and control wheel slip from side-to-side. This AWD system can accommodate varying tire wear patterns.

One of the FAQs on the PI Sedan and PI Utility is the durability and reliability of the All-Wheel Drive system. The AWD on the retail vehicles is quite proven with a bit of DNA from both Volvo and Land Rover. More to the point, however, is the police package version of this sophisticated AWD system. The durability testing on police package vehicles is twice that of a retail vehicle. The police vehicle is put through the retail battery of proving ground and developmental tests twice. The PI Sedan and PI Utility have already undergone more durability testing than the venerable Ford CVPI.

The police version of AWD has three unique features to improve durability during severe use. First, the front housing of the Power Transfer Unit has a special water jacket cast into the assembly. Water is circulated in the jacket to cool the housing. The bottom coils of the radiator – where the radiator is the coolest – are dedicated to PTU air-to-water-to-oil cooling.

Second, the Power Transfer Unit uses an internal temperature sensor, not found on the retail unit. A module keeps track of oil temperature in the PTU and time at that temperature. An electric clutch pack engages and disengages as torque is transferred to the rear wheels. A time versus temp logarithm activates an Oil Minder light if and when it is time to change the PTU fluid. Third, the Rear Differential Unit on the police version uses a fluid-filled clutch pack, instead of dry clutches. The police-only, fluid-filled RDU can withstand more severe duty.

Both the NextGen Police Interceptors have a 5-year/100K-mile zero-deductible, powertrain coverage. It is technically not a “warranty.” Instead, it is an Extended Service Plan. An ESP has fewer exclusions and covers more parts and systems than a limited powertrain warranty. The plan also includes wear and tear powertrain components. The 5-year/100K-mile program is more emphasis that the AWD system is up to the police duty cycle.

Driver Training? Not.

No special training is required when going from a FWD or RWD to an AWD police vehicle. In fact, AWD “feels” better than RWD when pushed hard. The front tires pull in the direction the steering wheel is pointed. The rear tires push just like any RWD vehicle. In the same way, it is very easy to switch back and forth between the PI Sedan and the PI Utility. They are built off the same platform and designed to feel the same. Not so much for switching from a sedan to a full-size SUV.

An EVOC refresher was a good idea for those going from a RWD to a FWD vehicle. If you try to throw a FWD vehicle around, hang the back end out, like you do a RWD, all you get is lots of miserable understeer. Not so with AWD. AWD itself is extremely forgiving. It makes a bad driver a better driver. It makes a good driver a great driver. The AWD policed vehicles are “easy to drive hard.”

Interior Room

When you first get into the PI Sedan, the height and width of the opening may appear small. Certainly the distances from the steering wheel to B-pillar and from the seat cushion to the roof rail are tighter than the Ford CVPI. What may be small compared to the out-of-production CVPI is not so much when compared to some of the other NextGen police vehicles. Once inside, the PI Sedan has the same leg room as the Ford CVPI.

On the other hand, the PI Utility interior design provides much more interior room. The PI Utility is extremely easy to enter and exit. Both the PI Sedan and PI Utility have a B-pillar location and strength designed to meet side impact requirements and help direct energy through the passenger compartment structure.

At the recommendation of the PAB, Ford added nylon web tethers to the PI Sedan and PI Utility front doors. This is to prevent the door from slamming into the hinge stop when thrown open. When new, the tether stops the door well short of the door stop. The webbed tether is designed to stretch slightly over the life of the vehicle. Tuned to be a little short when new, the tether will allow the door to just touch the door stop by the end of the service life.

Once inside the PI Sedan, you immediately notice the police-spec seat. Compared to the CVPI, and thanks to hundreds of hours of work, the PI Sedan seat is both more comfortable and more supportive than the CVPI seat. The PI Sedan and PI Utility use the same seat. Give a seat engineer a full duty belt to use in police seat design and development and the result is amazing.

Capable Trunk

The trunk of the PI Sedan is only slightly smaller than the Ford CVPI. (Remember that the published figures of the CVPI trunk volume are without a full-size spare.) Virtually all CVPIs come with a full-size spare (exposed). The PI Sedan comes standard with a full-size spare concealed under the flat load floor.

Trunk volume aside, the Sedan PI is not rated for the same amount of payload as the CVPI. It is about 180 pounds less. Ford has a ready answer for departments whose cargo needs exceed the Sedan PI — use the Utility PI. Do not expect a “heavy springs-shocks” version of the Sedan PI, even though both the Sedan PI and Utility PI are built on the same basic platform. The PI Sedan has a trunk cargo capacity of 400 pounds, while the PI Utility has a rear cargo capacity of 800 pounds. The total payload for the PI Sedan is roughly 1400 pounds, 1500 pounds for the Ford CVPI, and 1600 pounds for the PI Utility.

Ford engineers also emphasized the benefits of carrying the least weight in the trunk. Less payload means: 1) faster acceleration, 2) shorter stopping distances, 3) better handling, 4) greater fuel economy, and 5) better access to what is actually in the trunk. Taking 200 pounds out of the trunk, or not putting 200 pounds in the trunk is equal to one-half mpg City.

Fuel Economy

Speaking of fuel economy, the V6-powered PI Sedan gets better mileage than the V8-powered Ford CVPI. Of course, the PI Sedan uses less fuel when idling. All this makes sense — a 3.5L displacement for the PI Sedan versus a 4.6L displacement for the CVPI. However, both during idle and while driving, the PI Sedan gets better mileage than simply the 24 percent smaller engine.

In fact, in actual police use with combinations of driving and idling, the Sedan PI gets 35 percent better mileage than the CVPI. The biggest reason for the proportionately higher mileage? Variable Valve Timing on the 3.5L engine. The cam phasing is actually advanced or retarded to exactly match the engine load and rpm.

Speaking of fuel use at idle, even engines with cylinder deactivation do not shut off cylinders at idle. The V8s idle too rough in V4 mode. The V6s do not have a stable enough idle in the V3 mode — they actually need to rev up a bit in V3 mode to overcome friction and balance issues. The only solution to less fuel use at idle is a smaller engine...and one controlled by a variable valvetrain.

Ground Clearance

The PI Sedan has a one-fourth-inch more ground clearance than the Ford CVPI. However, the total suspension travel on the PI Sedan is also less. The chassis-to-ground dimension during the jounce over railroad tracks, for example, is about the same for both vehicles.

The PI Sedan also has something the CVPI does not have: an under-chassis deflector plate. What is the difference between a deflector plate and a skid plate? The skid plate is designed to withstand the entire GVWR on any single point. The deflector plate is designed to withstand glancing blows. The deflector shield is standard on all Sedan PI versions.

Ready for the Road

All Ford police vehicles go a mile down the road from the Chicago Assembly Plant to the Modification Center, a fully Ford-owned facility. At the Mod Center, police-only items are installed: spare tires, trunk inserts, deflector shield, door tethers and vinyl wraps. Optional features include lighting packages, spot lamps and ballistic door panels. This is where select Regular Production Options (RPO) and Vehicle Special Order (VSO) items are added. The term Dealer Special Order (DSO) has been changed to VSO. All the two-tone color schemes, and many are available, are vinyl wrap over paint.

Wig-Wag Solutions

Separate from the Mod Center, Ford offers “factory” upfitting services and products. Crown North America is a Quality Vehicle Modifier (QVM) process-certified upfitter. Crown NA is an optional “ship thru” allowing more choice and faster turn-around.  

Ford’s NextGen Police Interceptors use high-tech projector-type headlamps that cannot be wig-wag flashed. The solution is to add front-facing white LEDs, which can be flashed. Of course, LEDs may simply be bolted to the center of the grille or the push bumper. However, Ford has a better idea.

The headlight bezels on both the PI Sedan and PI Utility may be ordered in two ways. One is pre-dilled to accept forward LEDs and side-intersection LEDs. Or the vehicle can be ordered with these lights and the wiring already installed. The forward-facing LED is also a highly specialized, proprietary light. These wig-wags were developed by Ford specifically to be seen even though the nearby headlights are illuminated at night.

Other upfitting solutions from Crown NA include full wiring harnesses, siren and controllers, push bumpers and prisoner partitions. Of course, Crown NA also installs center consoles and external lightbars.

The current CA Title 13 spec for the siren output is met by a single 100-watt driver mounted between the front fascia and inner fender. A few departments are upfitting dual, 100-watt drivers or upfitting an additional low-frequency siren. Unfortunately, this same space on the other side of the Sedan PI is taken up by the washer fluid bottle. Even though the underhood is very crowded, do not be tempted to mount a second siren in front of the radiator or coolers. A push bumper may be the best option to mount the second or both siren speakers.

For upfitters, the entire Modifier’s Guide is online. No print version will be produced. The Modifier’s Guide is 300 pages and 20 megs’ worth of information in five PDFs. The Guide is on the public side of, click Showroom and then click Police Vehicles. Literally everything an upfitter needs to know is in the Guide. Ford invented such manuals and theirs remains the best in the industry. The 2013 Modifier’s Guide has twice the content as the guide prepared for the CVPI.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Jul/Aug 2012

Rating : 10.0




Posted on : Oct 21 at 8:27 PM By

Once inside the PI Sedan, you immediately notice the police-spec seat. Compared to the CVPI, and thanks to hundreds of hours of work, the PI Sedan seat is both more comfortable and more supportive than the CVPI seat. The PI Sedan and PI Utility use the same seat. Give a seat engineer a full duty belt to use in police seat design and development and the result is amazing. yes i'm agree

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