New 3.7L Police Engine for Ford PI Sedan

(Ed. Note: This is Part 2 of our hands-on coverage of the new Ford Police Interceptor Sedan. In the Jan-Feb 2013 issue of PFM, we covered the advanced technology, interior ergonomics, and safety features of the base 3.5L PI Sedan. In this issue, we cover the new 3.7L V6 and All-Wheel Drive.)


Ford’s goal for their Next Generation sedan was to equal or exceed the overall performance of the outgoing Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. When the 2013 Ford Police Interceptor (PI) Sedan was released in mid-2012, it was available with one of two engines: a 288 hp, 3.5L Ti-VCT V6 and a 365 hp, 3.5L EcoBoost® V6. The twin-turbo EcoBoost engine made the PI Sedan as fast as the 5.7L V8 Charger Pursuit and the 6.0L V8 Caprice PPV.

The Ford EcoBoost was the first turbocharged police engine. Durability and reliability questions were “asked and answered.” The EcoBoost is tough enough for the Ford F-150, and it has been the retail Taurus SHO engine since 2010. About 15 percent of the PI Sedans have been spec’d with this 365 hp V6.

At the other end, the 288 hp, 3.5L V6 (base engine in PI Sedan) equaled the acceleration of the 250 hp, 4.6L V8 in Ford CVPI. However, all the other NextGen vehicles from the other makes with their base V6 engine clearly out-accelerated the Ford CVPI. Fully loaded, where torque rules the day, the 3.5L base engine in the PI Sedan was not as fast as the on-duty Ford CVPI.

While the 288 hp, 3.5L V6 is just fine for some urban patrol tasks, Ford had the answer right in its parts bin for those wanting a little more performance: the 3.7L V6 used in the Mustang and the Police Interceptor Utility. With the optional 305 hp, 3.7L V6, the PI Sedan clearly meets the rest of the NextGen competition and it clearly out-performs the venerable Ford CVPI. And the 305 hp, 3.7L engine is a very inexpensive option, especially compared to the 365 hp, 3.5L EcoBoost.

With the 3.7L engine, the PI Sedan is at its best for the vast majority of police work. The E85-capable, 3.7L V6 is a mid-year release for the 2013 PI Sedan. This is a police-only, police-specific engine-vehicle combination. Just like the 3.7L V6 is police-only for the PI Utility and not available in the retail Explorer, the 3.7L V6 is police-only for the PI Sedan and not available in the retail Taurus.

The 3.7L PI Sedan was first seen at the Michigan State Police tests in mid-September. By the Los Angeles County Sheriff tests in mid-October, the 305 hp PI Sedan was tweaked and tuned. It was the fastest (standard) V6 sedan on the track. With a 7.2-second zero to 60 mph time, the 3.7L PI Sedan was ½-second faster than all of the competition in this city-type test. With an 18.6-second zero to 100 mph time, the 305 hp PI Sedan was about one second faster in this highway-type test.

The 3.7L V6 is simply a bored-out 3.5L V6. The engines are otherwise identical. Importantly, the 3.7L V6 is a Ti-VCT engine. That means Twin independent Variable Cam Timing. Some of the earlier Ford engines had variable valve timing on just the intake side. The 3.5L base engine in the PI Sedan and the 3.7L optional engine have a variable valvetrain with both the intake and exhaust cams. Today, all police engines from all makes have a variable valvetrain. In a VVT (or VCT) engine, the cams are advanced or retarded (independently) depending on engine rpm and throttle position.

Driving Impressions

In the last issue of PFM, Sgt. Brad Brewer discussed the advanced technology, interior ergonomics, and safety features of the 3.5L PI Sedan. With overall ergonomics and a city patrol perspective already addressed by one of the nation’s foremost police authorities, we got the highway part of the evaluation: 3.7L performance and AWD driving dynamics.

The immense power of the 365 hp, 3.5L EcoBoost version of the PI Sedan actually overshadows the rest of the great aspects of the PI Sedan. The mid-range 3.7L engine allows these other features to surface.  

The 3.7L V6 comes standard with, and requires, All-Wheel Drive. AWD in a sedan is a game-changer in police work. Evidence of that is the recent Dodge announcement that an AWD Charger Pursuit is on the way.

The two Police Interceptors (Sedan, Utility) have a unique AWD system, different in three ways from the retail Taurus and Explorer. First, the PI version has an auxiliary cooler for the AWD Power Transfer Unit, PTU. Second, the PTU has internal temperature sensing, which calculates the PTU fluid change interval. Third, the Active Torque Coupling in the Rear Differential Unit is fluid-filled, rather than the dry clutch pack used in the retail versions.

During our 16 days with the 3.7L AWD PI Sedan, the weather fully cooperated. First, we got heavy rain storms that caused flash-flooded streets and slippery roads. This was immediately followed by a major winter snow storm that produced snow-covered roads, vehicle slide-offs, canceled flights and closed schools. It may not snow everywhere, but it rains (almost) everywhere. AWD is the clear answer for emergency vehicles that operated in three of the four seasons of weather.

In addition to foul weather traction, the Police Interceptor version of Ford’s AWD system has been calibrated for the way we drive vehicles. Ford engineers have the ability to tune when the power transfers between all four wheels. That means Ford can make the PI Sedan “feel” like a Front-Wheel Drive, or “feel” like a Rear-Wheel Drive, or anything in between. EVOC instructors from the Michigan State Police, Los Angeles County Sheriff, and Los Angeles Police helped Ford strike just the right handling dynamics, the best balance for police work.

The Jack-be-nimble PI Sedan is arguably the best handling police car available. Its smaller size makes it very maneuverable. It excels at emergency lane changes and evasive drills. The PI Sedan has a virtually instant turn-in response to the steering input with no body roll. The turning circle, curb to curb is a full 2 feet tighter than the CVPI, 38.4 feet versus 40.3 feet. The steering has an excellent on-center feel. The EPAS steering has the right amount of less-assist at highway speeds and the right amount of more-assist at city speeds.

In fairness, however, it is not just the steering and suspension systems that make the PI Sedan the best handling police car available. The overall handling is due to links between AWD, stability control, throttle and brakes. The PI Sedan was carefully calibrated to make the most of AWD in the overall handling dynamics. Among a full crop of NextGen sedans, the PI Sedan sets the pace. No other police sedan handles like the PI Sedan because no other police sedan can leverage the benefits of AWD.

Proof of the superiority of the AWD—even on dry pavement—is in the recent LASD test results. The 3.7L PI Sedan AWD was 2.5 seconds faster than the 3.6L Impala FWD, and even ¼-second faster than the 3.6L Charger RWD. Yep, AWD beats RWD…and no special driver training is needed. AWD simply makes a good driver better.

Proof of the superiority of the 3.7L drivetrain over the 3.5L base engine in the PI Sedan is also in the test results. Both using AWD, the 3.7L PI Sedan was almost 2 seconds faster around the LASD road course than the 3.5L PI Sedan. The advantage of the optional 3.7L engine over the base 3.5L engine is even greater than the 3.7L advantage over the competition.

Overtake Speeds

In an urban or suburban setting, vehicle stops are all about zero to 60 mph. However, with rural calls for service or highway traffic enforcement, it is all about zero to 100 mph acceleration. The fastest overtake speeds make the quickest response times and the shortest catch times.

Nostalgia aside, the Ford CVPI took a leisurely 23 to 24 seconds to reach 100 mph. All traffic officers know about the flat spot in acceleration just above 75 mph…due mostly to the 4-speed trans. The 3.7L PI Sedan runs up to 100 mph in just 18 seconds. During routine traffic enforcement, we hit 100 mph dozens of times. Thanks to the 6-speed, there is no flat spots at all. The 3.7L engine tachs up to redline, the 6-speed hands the torque off to the next close-ratio gear, the engine tachs up. It is a beautiful thing!

In both traffic enforcement and routine calls-for-service, braking is at least as important as accelerating. The PI Sedan actually has bigger brakes than the CVPI with a rotor diameter of 13.9 inches versus 11 inches. The result is 60 percent more swept area. On the PI Sedan, the difference in 60 mph stopping distances from ambient cold brakes to pursuit red hot brakes is just one foot. A side benefit of the larger swept area is longer-lasting brake pads. According to Ford Fleet, expect brake pad life to double.

The 3.7L engine has exactly the same EPA City fuel economy estimate as the 3.5L engine at 18 mpg. At 25 mpg Highway, the 3.7L mileage is estimated at just 1 mpg less than the 3.5L V6. For that tiny trade-off, you get 6 percent more horsepower and 10 percent more torque. Torque wins drag races.

Over a 16-day period, we put 1,500 miles on the 3.7L PI Sedan AWD. This was a combination of suburban calls for service, rural traffic enforcement, heavily urban driving and interstate driving. The idle time was kept to a minimum, and mostly occurred during traffic enforcement. In this “a little bit of everything” driving, we averaged exactly 20.0 mpg. (The EPA Combined estimate for the 3.7L PI Sedan is 21 mpg.)

A few months ago, we put over 1,000 miles of similar duty on the base 3.5L PI Sedan and averaged 20.5 mpg. That is a one-half mpg difference between the 3.5L and 3.7L engines…and well worth the increased performance.

Whether the PI Sedan is right for your department or the larger PI Utility is a better fit, depends on a number of factors. However, one thing is for sure—the 3.7L V6 is the right engine for the PI Sedan.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Mar/Apr 2013

Rating : 3.5

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