The NextGen Police Interceptor Concept is still under development. However, the interior volume of the retail Taurus, on which the Police Interceptor is loosely based, has gone from 108 cubic feet (cf) for the older Five Hundred-Taurus down to 102 cf for the sportier current retail Taurus. Of the current police sedans, the Dodge Charger has the least interior volume at 104 cf, followed by the Chevy Impala at 105 cf and the Ford CVPI at 107 cf.
When wearing body armor and a full duty belt, the entry into and exit from the NGPI Concept is a bit tight for taller or larger officers. Comparing the “effective” door opening width of the current Ford CVPI to the upcoming Ford NGPI offers clues as to why. Depending on the extremes of the steering wheel adjustment, the NGPI Concept has about 1/2 inch to 2 inches less width from the steering wheel to the B-pillar. Depending on the exact gear on the duty belt, an officer with more than a 40-inch waist may rub the right side holster on the steering wheel and the left side TASER® on the B-pillar during entry and exit.
Comparing the “effective” door opening height between the current and the concept vehicles was a bit harder, with the compound curves at the top of the door and the different seat and bolster designs at the bottom of the door. In round numbers, the upcoming NGPI Concept has about 1 inch less room from the headliner to the rocker panel. The above-average-height officer may have to bend at the waist and tilt his head a bit more during entry and exit.
It must be emphasized that the NextGen Police Interceptor Concept is just that—a concept vehicle. The police package is still very much under development. As such, the entry and exit with the final production vehicle may be different from the Concept vehicle. “We are not done yet!” emphasized John Ruppert, Ford’s general manager, Commercial & Government Operations, North American Fleet, Lease and Remarketing Operations (NAFLRO).
Snug but Comfortable
Once seated, the Police Interceptor Concept is very comfortable when wearing plain clothes. It has plenty of front seat track travel in addition to foot, knee, shoulder and head room. The only concern is hip room. Wearing a full duty belt, the front seat of the Police Interceptor Concept is not as “roomy” as the Ford CVPI.
The space reserved between the front seats is identical to the current CVPI. It promises to accommodate the standard aftermarket CVPI police consoles and gear. This will allow more room for the holstered gun on a right-handed officer and still allow for proper upfit of radios and controllers in the console. The Police Interceptor Concept uses a tilt but not telescoping steering wheel. The steering-column-mounted gear selector prevents the telescoping function.
The Police Interceptor Concept, while still very much under development, has close to “best in class” rear seat room. With the sleek rear roofline, the rear head room is minimal. The thinner, plastic aftermarket seat used on so many police cars will help both issues. So will further development of the Concept vehicle.
The front A-pillars and the middle B-pillars on the Police Interceptor Concept are a bit thick and wide, but the visibility out of the Police Interceptor Concept is generally acceptable. The visibility forward and upward (to see a traffic light) is a bit limited for a tall driver. The rear window is also a bit small in its own right. However, do not be influenced by the retail Taurus when it comes to rear visibility. Again, as in so many ways, the Police Interceptor Concept is different from a retail car, in this case, in terms of rear headrests. The result is acceptable rear visibility from the Police Interceptor Concept.
The rear doors on the Police Interceptor Concept are hinged to open wider than the current retail Taurus: 71 degrees versus 62 degrees. We actually found it easier to put a prisoner into the rear seat of the new Police Interceptor Concept than the current Ford CVPI.
The NGPI Concept has exactly the same trunk volume as the current CVPI. A full-sized spare tire is standard. Since the spare is below the flat load floor, the NGPI trunk space is more useful. The NGPI will have key cylinder locks on the driver’s door, the passenger’s door and the trunk.
Heads-up! The heavy-duty, pursuit-capable police package is still under development. It will differ from anything used in a retail Taurus. Ford’s Police Advisory Board has been hands-on for two years and will continue to be so until the police version is released.
The floor-mounted shifter will move from the center console to the steering column. The police version will not have a floor shifter. The goal is for the configuration of the center console and instrument panel to be high-tech compatible with modern police gear, i.e., emergency equipment controllers and communications.
The police seat will be designed around a person wearing a full duty belt. The Police Interceptor Concept seat has ample cutouts for the duty belt and the right- and left-side holster.
The police package suspension is also still under development. The starting point for the police spring rates, shock valving and sway bar torsion is the Taurus SHO High-Speed suspension. The suspension will be further tuned for police performance, including electronic stability control. The brakes will be designed to pass both the Michigan State Police and Los Angeles County Sheriff braking tests. The tires are planned to have the performance and tread life of the Goodyear Eagle RS-A. The Police Interceptor Concept has 18-inch tires.
Ford’s goal with its NextGen police vehicle has always been that it must perform as well as the Ford CVPI, and that includes both horsepower and drivetrain and chassis durability. With the standard 263 hp 3.5L V6 engine, we confirmed that the 2013 Police Interceptor Concept has the same overall performance as the Ford CVPI.
With the optional 365 hp 3.5L EcoBoost V6, the Police Interceptor Concept has the same overall performance as the HEMI Charger. We verified it with our own stopwatch. The version we drove hit 60 mph in 6.0 seconds and 100 mph in 15.0 seconds. The Michigan State Police figures for the HEMI Charger are 6.0 seconds and 14.2 seconds, respectively.
We have had a couple of chances to drive the 3.5L AWD and the EcoBoost Police Interceptor Concept at various stages of development (and the development is continuing). After each drive, and some involved many miles and very high speeds, the driving impressions have all been the same—that this is one awesome sedan.
The steering is very responsive and very predictable. The EcoBoost version of the Police Interceptor Concept is very easy to drive hard. It does extremely well in evasive maneuvers (sudden lane change, then change back) and in accident avoidance maneuvers (sudden lane change), even at very high speeds. Handling-wise, think 4-door special service package Mustang.
Part of the handling prowess is the ride height. The Police Interceptor Concept in AWD has a fairly low center of gravity for an AWD vehicle. The Police Interceptor Concept is quick, quiet and smooth. It gives the driver a feeling of confidence in the way it handles and brakes.
The 6-speed transaxle is excellent. The drivetrain never seemed to “search” for the right gear. It always seemed to quickly and easily get to the best gear for the powerband and the throttle demand.
During heavy acceleration from a full stop, the 365 hp Police Interceptor Concept does not exhibit any of the old torque steer common in less developed vehicles. This is a major accomplishment. The car squirms a bit, balancing all that horsepower and torque front to rear, left to right. But this is not something the typical driver would notice. So, how do 365 hp and wet pavement mix with this vehicle? In standing water on the road, we gave the EcoBoost version of the Police Interceptor Concept a light power-brake and then full throttle from a dead stop. Instant acceleration. Zero wheelspin. Nice.
“Vehicles built to do the job by those on the job.” Is it December 2011 yet?