Calling All SUVs: Ford Unveils 2020 Explorer-Based Police Interceptor Utility

02-ford-police-interceptor-utility--angle--black--front--heartbe 2020 Ford Police Interceptor Utility | Manufacturer images

We’re less than a week away from seeing the new 2020 Ford Explorer in the flesh, but Ford is giving the world a sneak peek at the new SUV by showing us the one most likely to appear in your rearview mirror. Ford’s new 2020 Police Interceptor Utility (don’t call it an Explorer) broke cover at an event near the company’s Dearborn, Mich., headquarters earlier today, giving us a look at the next-generation law enforcement vehicle. With the Taurus slated to end production in February, this will become the mainstay of Ford’s police offerings, joining the Fusion-based Police Responder Hybrid and Special Service Vehicle Plug-in Hybrid sedans, the F-150 Police Responder, Expedition SSV, F-150 SSV and Transit Police Transport Vehicle fleet.

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The new Police Interceptor Utility is clearly based on the all-new Explorer, but we can’t yet tell you much about the Explorer itself, as we’re sworn to secrecy until Jan. 9 at 7:30 p.m. EST, when we’ll have a full report on the 2020 Explorer for you to see.

Until then, we can share specifics on the new Interceptor. The new SUV sits on an all-new platform, sharing nothing with the current Explorer. All of the new Police Interceptor Utilities will have standard all-wheel drive and a hybrid powertrain: a naturally aspirated 3.3-liter V-6 with a new hybrid transmission that features a small lithium-ion battery. Two other powertrains will be optional: a 3.3-liter V-6 without the hybrid system and a turbocharged 3.0-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine. All three engines use a 10-speed automatic transmission.

The SUV is designed for increased durability given the duty cycles that law enforcement agencies typically put vehicles through. The cooling system, brake system and front door tethers are beefier, while steel wheels wear heavy-duty tires. The SUV can survive an 8-inch curb and median crossing without a problem, as one might encounter in a chase, as well as traverse railroad crossings at 30 mph. The Police Interceptor Utility is rated to ford water crossings up to 18 inches at 15 mph, or 10 inches of water at 40 mph, without flooding the engine. 

Ford’s rear-impact standards have been maintained in the new SUV, with the new truck engineered to survive a 75-mph rear impact, helping protect officers that might be parked on a highway shoulder at a traffic stop. Federal standards only call for a 50-mph strike-survivability rating. 

The interior gets some changes versus the regular Explorer, as well, with heavy-duty cloth front seats and reduced bolsters to help entry and exit with a duty belt full of gear. Those seats feature anti-stab plates in the seatbacks to protect front-seat passengers from backseat occupants. Vinyl rear seats and flooring allow for quick clean-out, just in case.

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Safety gets a boost in the new Police Interceptor Utility with a bunch of available driver assist technologies. Precollision assist with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection and forward collision warning is available, as is a blind spot warning system, but some systems that you’d find in civilian vehicles aren’t offered, like lane keep assist or automatic parallel parking. 

A Police Perimeter Alert uses the vehicle’s side and rear blind spot sensors to detect potential threats. Developed in response to an incident in New York where two officers were ambushed and killed while sitting in their cruiser, the system provides 270 degrees of threat detection. It can detect approaching pedestrians to the rear and sides, alerting occupants while automatically rolling up windows and sounding a chime. A visual motion trail of the approaching person appears on the digital instrument cluster, with either blue alerts for nonthreats or red ones for suspected threats. Officers can then use the on-demand rear camera to see what’s approaching. 

So take a good look at this new Ford Police Interceptor Utility, as you’ll likely see many of them on roads in the near future. And check back here to see all the details of the SUV’s civilian cousin, the 2020 Ford Explorer, as the company unveils that model at an evening event in Detroit on Jan. 9.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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