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Ford Utility Police Gets Mustang Engine

Ford Fleet recently announced its 2013 Utility Police Interceptor will come standard with All-Wheel Drive.

That makes it the only pursuit-capable, AWD or 4x4 crossover or SUV on the market. Ford also announced the 2013 Sedan Police Interceptor will come standard with AWD. On both vehicles, the Front Wheel Drive drivetrain will be a “for credit option.”

By the way, no 2012 model year Police Interceptors will exist. The last model year for the Ford CVPI is 2011. The first model year for the two Next Generation Police Interceptors is 2013.

This AWD drivetrain is tuned to police-specific use, which is quite diff erent from the retail calibration. The police AWD calibration is linked to the Roll Stability Control™, which monitors both yaw and body roll. The computer controlled AWD moves torque around wheel-to-wheel. During aggressive driving, this delays throttle intervention (shutdown) and brake application. The police-spec AWD allows more yaw and more body roll than the retail settings before the stability control kicks in.

The capabilities of any AWD system are all about lubrication, and that means temperature control. The AWD system on police package Sedan PI and Utility PI has a unique auxiliary cooler. A cooler running AWD system allows more torque to be transferred more of the time.

The AWD system on the Police Interceptors undergoes durability testing double that of retail vehicle testing. Basically, the retail durability tests are performed twice for police vehicles. In addition, the AWD system has endured 450 hours of testing on the Michigan State Police and Los Angeles County Sheriff test tracks.

During development, these AWD drivetrains accumulated 5,500 laps around a Ford test track, i.e., 9,000 miles of racetrack driving to simulate high-speed pursuits. Finally, in production trim, the AWD Sedan PI and AWD Utility PI completed 170 32-lap certification tests.

The 6-speed transmission used in both the Utility PI and the Sedan PI is also calibrated for police use. The shift points are tuned to police use. In addition, the transmission is tuned to hold the gear longer during aggressive driving. That is, the transmission remains in the specifi c gear it is in when the driver lifts off the throttle, rather than up-shifting with throttle lift as the retail car would do. That means the transmission does not need to promptly down-shift a few seconds later as the vehicle exits a turn or corner.

Mustang 3.7L V6

The big news, and the long-hoped for decision, was that the Utility PI will come standard with the 300hp, 3.7L V6 from the Mustang. The original “plans” were for the Utility PI to be powered by the 280hp, 3.5L V6. This engine is standard in the police package Sedan PI and standard in the retail Explorer, but more power was needed for the slightly heavier Utility PI.

During its product development, the Utility PI has gone from a 280hp 3.5L Ti- VCT V6 and 3.39:1 final drive to that same V6 with dual exhausts and a 3.65:1 drive ratio. The final upgrade was to the 300hp 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 with 3.65:1 gears.

This change further emphasizes the roles that the annual vehicle tests performed by the Michigan State Police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff play in overall police package development. To the point, the Sedan PI and the Utility PI vehicles formally tested by each department were prototype vehicles, not production vehicles. These vehicles were still under development and will continue to be developed until full production vehicles are approved later in the year.
The Utility PI that ran at MSP had the 280hp, 3.5L V6. The Utility PI that ran at LASD had the 300hp, 3.7L V6. Importantly, the Utility PI tested by the LASD also had 400 pounds of ballast in the back, compared to the MSP test vehicle that had no dead cargo.

The fact that the 3.7L Utility PI with 400 pounds of cargo outran the empty 3.5L Utility PI shows how strong the 3.7L engine is. With this 3.7L engine, Ford completely delivered on its promise that the Utility PI would outperform the outgoing Ford CVPI. It did. With the 3.7L V6, the fully loaded Utility PI is as quick around a road course as the empty Ford CVPI.

This also takes us back to the heady days when the police package cars were available in special engines that were not available in the retail cars. This hot, 3.7L V6 is the standard engine for the 2011 Mustang but is not available in any retail Explorer. That truly makes the 3.7L police Utility PI very different from the 3.5L retail Explorer.

In the mid-1980s, some of the Ford police sedans used 302ci V8 High Output engines available only in the Mustang. However, for the past 25 years, the police engines for all three makes of police car have been the same engine as used in the respective retail cars, for all practical purposes.

This decision by Ford also shows its commitment to its police program. It is a huge expense to put a totally different engine in a police vehicle versus the otherwise very similar retail vehicle. While the engines are the same basic dimensions, dozens of other considerations go into putting a non-retail engine in the vehicle, and that means engineering development.

At this point, no other automaker uses an engine in its police package vehicle that is not the same basic engine used in their retail version of the same vehicle. Kudos to Ford for making this bold, if necessary, decision. The Utility PI is, indeed, a police-specific vehicle and not just a tweaked retail vehicle—no one can possibly question that.

So, will the 350hp, 3.5L EcoBoost V6 ever be available in the police Utility PI? It is not currently available in the retail Explorer. And that expensive, twin-turbo V6 is a whole other kind of engine compared to the relatively easy mechanical swap of a 3.7L V6 in place of a 3.5L V6. At this point, no one knows. However, if the retail Explorer ever gets the 3.5L EcoBoost, expect cops all across the country to ask for it in the Police Utility PI.

Ride & Drive

Ford’s Police Advisory Board has been assisting in the development of both the Sedan PI and the Utility PI since 2008. The PAB recently gathered at Ford’s Dearborn Development Center, formerly Dearborn Proving Ground, to drive the 3.5L V6 Sedan PI and the 3.7L V6 Utility PI. Both the 3.5L V6 in the Sedan PI and the 3.7L V6 in the Utility PI are FlexFuel E85-capable.

Track time involved an extremely difficult steering and handling course with the Sedan PI and drag racing on the Vehicle Dynamics Area pad with the Utility PI versus the Ford CVPI. The drag racing was the old fashioned “Go & Whoa,” where the cars were accelerated from a standing start for 1/8 mile and then the ABS brakes were activated.

With three passengers on-board, the 3.7L V6 Utility PI hit 75 mph compared to 68 mph for the 4.6L V8 Ford CVPI. Both vehicles stopped in the same distance, which means the Utility PI has the better brakes because it was stopping from a much higher speed. 

The Utility PI and the Sedan PI will be produced as 2013 models in late 2011 and available in early 2012.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, May/Jun 2011

Rating : 9.8

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