For the past 18 years, the cop car of choice for North American police forces has been a modified version of the Ford Crown Victoria. And here’s an interesting fact about the Crown Vic: it hasn’t been available to the general public since 2008. Here’s another: it looks like something your grandpa would drive. While police forces like the cars because of their V8 engines, rear-wheel-drive, and easy-to-repair body-on-frame construction, they have become aesthetically and technologically dated. It’s time for a change, so the Ford Motor Company is offering one - last Friday, they revealed a new purpose-built Police Interceptor, which will take over when the Crown Victoria goes out of production in late 2011. The Ford Taurus-based sedan is said to exceed the durability, safety, performance and fuel economy of the Crown Vic.

Performance

The Police Interceptor will have a 3.5-liter V6 engine that “performs equal to or better than V8 engines.” There will be two powertrain options, depending on the needs of individual police forces. The standard version will deliver at least 263hp, at a reported 25 percent more fuel efficiency than the Vic’s 4.6-liter V8. Cops who engage in a lot of high-speed chases, however, might opt for the twin-turbocharged direct-injection EcoBoost engine. It will deliver at least 365hp, supposedly outperforming normally-aspirated V8 police cruisers, while keeping fuel economy and CO2 emissions similar to those for the standard engine.

Inside

The interior will sport features such as front seats that accommodate bulky utility belts, anti-stab plates in the front seatbacks, and a column-shifter designed to keep the console area open and available for aftermarket equipment.

Safety

The Interceptor has been engineered to pass 75mph rear-end crash testing, like the Crown Vic before it. It also has side curtain air bags, to protect front and rear passengers in the event of a rollover or side impact. The vehicle will have oversized brakes and vented 18-inch steel wheels, to enhance braking performance.

Other safety features will include:

  • The Blind Spot Information System, a radar-based electronic system that alerts the driver to vehicles in their blind spots, or that are approaching from the sides as they’re backing out of parking spaces
  • A rear view camera system
  • A reverse sensing system, that alerts the driver to objects behind the car
  • Electronic stability control, which reduces engine torque and applies selected brakes when wheel slip is detected

A purpose-built Ford police SUV is also said to be on the way.

And finally, if a high-tech Ford Taurus police car seems at all familiar to you, you might be remembering it from the 1987 film Robocop. In that film, the Detroit police force of the future drove matte-black Tauruses. Let's hope no cyborg cops or killer police robots are also on the way.