The New Hot Ford Police Car Isn't a Car

They weren't the only police cars in America, but for a long time, Ford's (NYSE: F  ) long-lived Crown Victoria Police Interceptors were the favorite of many departments. Its roomy interior, predictable handling, big trunk, and old-school body-on-frame ruggedness made it the preferred ride not just for the police officers who drove them but for the departmental mechanics who took care of them.

Heads up, scofflaws: In more and more places in the U.S., this grill is becoming the on-road face of law enforcement. Photo credit: Ford Motor Co.

But Ford stopped building the Crown Vic a couple of years ago, and since then, there has been plenty of competition to fill the gap. General Motors'  (NYSE: GM  ) ,Chrysler and even Toyota (NYSE: TM  ) have all made some gains in this long-closed market. More and more, however, the vehicle that replaces those old Crown Vics isn't a car: It's the official version of Ford's popular Explorer, which is rapidly becoming a police favorite.

In this video, Fool contributor John Rosevear looks at the key contenders in this small but high-profile market and why this version of the Explorer -- properly called the "Ford Police Interceptor Utility" -- is becoming a favorite of more folks in blue.

Commercial and government fleet sales, which include police cars, are a big part of Ford's business. Lately, those businesses have been thriving, and that has boosted Ford's profits. But in order for Ford's stock to really soar, a few more critical things need to fall into place. In The Motley Fool's special free report entitled, "5 Secrets to Ford's Future" we outline the key factors every Ford investor needs to watch. Just click here now for your free report.


Read/Post Comments (23) | Recommend This Article (14)

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  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 5:38 AM, Doug10019 wrote:

    Not a car? This vehicle is based on the Ford Taurus platform, so why not call it what it is, a STATIONWAGON?

    It's a pity that Ford discontinued the very reliable and comfortable Crown Vic, Grand Marquis, & Town Car in 2011. They say they did it to meet more stringent CAFE standards. I take issue with that because Chrysler, BMW, and Mercedes can still make a full frame rear wheel drive.

    Good job Ford for abandoning your fleet and older generation traditional buyers.

    What is next? A front wheel drive Mustang?

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 6:25 AM, RR08474 wrote:

    A police favorite... Really...? As a police officer, I am truely saddened by seeing the Crown Victoria leave.

    Having driven both the new SUV police Explorer and sedan Taurus. All I can say is that whoever designed it should be fired.

    Getting in and out of the vehicle is truely a danger and hassle. The (B Pillar) pillar to the rear of the front door is too far forward and the bottom of the door frame is higher than the floor pan causing you to have to scrunch your body up to get in a out... Someones gonna get killed one day with this issue.

    Also in the SUV, there are HUGE blind spots. Basically you just shouldn't back up in the SUV for everyone's safety.

    Please change the designs or bring back a newly designed crown vic. For now I refuse to drive them and will stay in my Chevy Tahoe... Sorry Ford you made a grave mistake.

    BTW... It's not only me complaining, I've heard these complaints through many dept's.

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 6:53 AM, buju127 wrote:

    At Doug10019 I would have to disagree with you BMW and Mercedes and even Chrysler don’t come close to Ford sales. And for the Germans for some reason our government doesn’t hold them to the same C.A.F.E standards as brands like Cadillac and Lincoln. These two interceptors are both much better vehicles than the almost 40 year old Crown Vic, yes it’s smaller but the overall package is much better. I attended the Fire and Rescue Conference in Baltimore this year (and every year) and the demonstrations of both the Taurus and Sport Utility were just amazing. Even some of the little things like the car being able to lock all the doors if the rearview camera sees someone approaching from the rear. People always complain when we have change and most of the time it is not founded.

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 7:10 AM, Galane wrote:

    "Ford Police Interceptor Utility" How does one pronounce FPIU?

    Ford kept bloating up the Ranger, and the Explorer, until with the current ones (that it only sells outside North America) there's little difference between them and the F-series trucks.

    Ford made other mistakes with the Ranger, Explorer and Sport Trac by never offering a V8 in the Ranger or in the 2 door Explorer Sport or the first generation Sport Trac. Customers kept telling Ford "We want a V8, two door Explorer!" and Ford would only reply "NO!" then discontinued the model because it didn't sell well. What did Ford expect when refusing to sell what people wanted?

    It's the same dumb attitude Ford has had before, such as when the only way to get rear disc brakes on the Thunderbird was with the horribly fuel sucking turbo 2.3 four cylinder. Ford eventually axed the turbo 2.3 because it got worse MPG than the 302 V8 due to most owners trying to drive the turbo as it it was a V8 - but still wouldn't put rear discs on with the V8 until the next generation T-Bird - after they repeated the mistake of trying to eliminate the V8 like they tried with the first year of the Mustang II in 1974.

    In both cases the next year (1975 and 1990) Ford shoehorned the 302 into cars not designed for it but suffered the consequences in reduced sales because many people who would've bought a Mustang II or T-Bird never got the message that they could get a V8 engine. In spite of Ford pulling that stupid, 1974 was the 4th highest year (nearly 400,000) for Mustang sales and no year since has topped it, with only 1979 coming anywhere close. Had a V8 been available to Mustang and Thunderbird buyers in 1974 and 1989, those would very likely have been the highest selling years of all time for both models.

    Ford, it's like the Apple of motor vehicles. It keeps going in spite of repeatedly doing dumb things (like throwing away the American sports car market when the original Thunderbird was stomping Corvette into the mud in sales) and ignoring what their customers actually want.

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 7:46 AM, IntroVent wrote:

    To RR08474, Someone's going to get KILLED by having to scrunch up their body to get in and out? Slide the seat back and live! I think the fact that you've got a Chevy Tahoe speaks to your 'opinion' of the Ford Explorer. Most people are loyal to only one carmaker or the other and believe that the brands they don't like are plain garbage. As a Police Officer, you only have the choice to drive what the department provides for you. Personally, I hate both the Explorer as well as the Tahoe. Last SUV I really liked was the Durango from the late 90s. Otherwise, I'm loyal to the Ford brands.

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 8:22 AM, wheelgun21 wrote:

    duznt matter what they come out with..my dept is run by good ole boys who all drive the new cars and give the hand me down junk to the real officers who are out there working. When every chief,capt and Lt. drive a new car home every day and park it in the lot at the station all day while they stay inside in the a/c, something is wrong with the system. By the time the patrol officers get these SUV's on the street they'll already be 5-6 years old. I have a feeling other depts operate the same way.

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 8:55 AM, kca124cain wrote:

    Depending on area of the country, the Expedition ha also been popular. I have not seen any Toyotas, even around Georgetown, KY (Toyotatown), I see GM and Ford.

    The new Chevy Caprice is popular with some departments. It is based on the G8/Holden.

    Also see a lot of Impalas and Ford Focuses, with a few Malibu's here and there.

    Chargers have started to lose out. Many on the auction block have blown motors - far more than I see with the Crown Victoria's. The Crown Vic's were excellent vehicles, good power and great handling. Nothing like the Crown Victoria commercial version, though, which was a nice luxury ride.

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 9:01 AM, kca124cain wrote:

    Wheelgun, I understand. Just like most other businesses. I recently picked up an 05 Crown Vic at auction 100,000 miles, never had the divider installed. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had found a supervisors car. Great car.

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 9:19 AM, DRayZ wrote:

    A Tahoe beats the Explorer hands down for ease of entry/exit.

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 9:28 AM, amit1624 wrote:

    This isn't a Car-Batman

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 9:50 AM, dtbd483 wrote:

    The problem I see here is that the people that have designed these Police vehicles have probably never worked as police/sheriff's officer. Getting in and out of these smaller compact designed vehicles posses a problem with your gun and equipment getting caught up on exiting the vehicle. The Crown Vic was not only a good reliable car, but it handled pretty good for a American made car. Our Office bought up what appeared to be 6 years worth of crown vics, and we will be driving these cars for several ore years.

    Provided our Deputies don't keep wrecking them.!!

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 9:52 AM, Paigesdad wrote:

    @ Galane - You could have bought a 2 door Tahoe. Those had a V8. That is until they discontinued them because of poor sales. I would say in that instance, Ford knew what it was doing.

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 10:12 AM, hopper68 wrote:

    Let's keep something in mind. This is the one US Car Manufacturer that didn't need bailout money in order to avoid shutting the doors. Anyone who has held on to Ford stock for at least a year knows that this company isn't as dependent on North American sales as the other two (GM and Chrysler) currently are.

    And to boot, Ford's lineup seems to be catching on with the general public. Seems almost everyday I'm seeing more and more of them on the road.

    And besides, who cares what the cops drive as long as it is bright and visible from miles away. How about a nice lemon yellow Expeditions with green lights? That would work ;)

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 10:44 AM, JamesBraque wrote:

    Amazing that Ford gave up control of the Police Cruiser and taxi business with the removal of the Crown Vic and the Limo and funeral business with the removal of the Lincoln Town Car, without finding a adequate replacement. SUV's don't seem to be the choice for high speed pursuit vehicles, and the locked concealed trunk less SUV might be an issue.

    Great FORD could survive w/o government support, but giving up these markets makes me wonder if FORD new acronym should not be FOOLISH OR REAL DUMB.

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 11:11 AM, speculawyer wrote:

    From one gas guzzler to another. That's just great, your taxes have to pay for all that gas they burn. They should be getting hybrids so they don't waste so much gas idling.

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 12:17 PM, Cody700 wrote:

    Amazing how people make assumptions and instantly they believe their own assumptions are fact. Why did Ford do away with the Crown Vic, Mercury Marquis, and the Lincoln Town Car? Really simple folks, money. Whenever a company has a product that isn't supporting the cost of producing it, you retire it. That is exactly what happened here. Ford didn't stop building these cars because they didn't want to build them anymore, are you NUTS? And of course there are going to be police officers that like and don't like this or that model, that's life. There will always be people that are reluctant and resistant to change, that is also just life.

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 2:16 PM, SLTom992 wrote:

    Why do I get the feeling that the police are buy this sort of car not only for practical reasons but because it's on all of the cop shows on TV?

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 6:14 PM, vet212 wrote:

    it wont make it its a unibody disgrace and should not be considered a Utility vehical at all as utes are body on rigid ladder frame

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 7:24 PM, kca124cain wrote:

    Speculawyer, The Crown Vic got 26 mpg on the highway. The caprice gets 31. Not what I would call Gas Guzzlers.

  • Report this Comment On August 28, 2013, at 7:26 PM, kca124cain wrote:

    There are lots of Tahoes, Suburbans, and Expeditions used as police vehicles. (full size SUV's.) The explorer is a mid sized SUV.

    Most police I have talked to like the new Explorer

  • Report this Comment On August 29, 2013, at 9:32 AM, TMFMarlowe wrote:

    Folks, I've struck up conversations with several LEOs about cruiser choices over the last few months. Almost everybody misses the CVPI, but most who have tried it like the Explorer *compared to other current options*.

    Part of that is the perceived all-weather capability -- I live in New England, where we get some snow -- but the one thing I have heard a bunch of times: It's really a pain to put a handcuffed suspect into the back of a Charger or Taurus. The door opening just wasn't designed for that. Much easier with the Explorer, and that's a big reason that more departments are leaning toward it. (But I bet the next-generation Taurus will be a different story. Ford is listening.) I should note that I have not personally talked to anyone who has driven a police-spec Caprice, so I only know what I read as to how that car stacks up.

    As far as high-speed chases, all vehicles that aren't dedicated high-performance cars (with appropriate aerodynamic add-ons) will start to show significant front lift (aka "steering float") at 110-130 mph. LEO-spec Crown Vics and Hemi Chargers are not magically excepted from this rule, and I doubt that the Explorer is much worse. And if you're making abrupt directional changes at 80 mph, you're in deep trouble in almost any vehicle.

    Thanks to all for the comments.

    John Rosevear

  • Report this Comment On August 30, 2013, at 1:45 AM, Prtnsrv wrote:

    As a deputy sheriff I have to say I am sad and concerned to see the Crown Vic leave. As mentioned it was very predictable in its handling. This to me is the peak concern I have about switching between so many different vehicles so often. Where I work I travel long distances at high rates of speed in emergencies. Driving a vehicle that I know and trust, with thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of miles behind the wheel, I can make choices that are of higher risk while driving because I know what my limitations are in the vehicle. Now we are being forced to abandon a tried and true tool of the law enforcement trade and play Russian Roulette with various replacements. I will agree that I like the concept of some of the new features offered in Ford's new replacement models, but it takes time to adjust to a new vehicle.

    I would hope that at least the next line of chosen vehicle will be around for a while because changing models every year could potentially have greater consequences than just annoying someone's personal preferences. Some of the concerns that come to my mind are things like response time to emergencies, handling, getting used to a rapid exit of the vehicle, blind spots and even how your duty belt sits in the seat. Some of these concerns speak for themselves. Response time can be a big issue and is related to handling. If I'm not comfortable with how the vehicle will handle during emergency vehicle operations, I will naturally drive slower. How I or other officers/deputies wear a duty belt, and sit in a patrol vehicle will determine the amount of pain we will be in at the end of a shift. Also depending on how the driver/passenger seating is laid out, we could possible snag our gear or our selves on the seat belt or other vehicle parts. Most of these issues we've already overcome in the Crown Vic.

    I am truly curious what Ford was thinking when they decided to drop the Crown Vic line. I think it is going to take some time before Ford earns the trust of law enforcement with their new models. I don't expect them to turn a large profit for a few years. Then again I don't have any brass on my collars.

  • Report this Comment On September 03, 2013, at 11:04 AM, mw3051 wrote:

    so it is a bicycle i guess.

    back in my day we called these things CARs.

    today the writers smoke crack and call them PB&Js.

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