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.