By on December 16, 2016

2017-ford-police-interceptor-utility-1lb

Why merely explore when you can intercept?

A few readers of last week’s lookalike-Ford article mentioned that you can actually get the word “I N T E R C E P T O R” across the bonnet edge of a new Ford Explorer Police, er, Ford Police Interceptor Utility. This is good news for all those people who buy used cop cars and then try to restore them to approximate “on-duty” appearance in hopes of intimidating fellow motorists. (Within the tight-knit community of people who buy and restore ex-police Crown Vics, the guys who pretend to be cops are called “whackers.” The dividing line between mere enthusiast and whacker, as far as I can tell, appears to be the re-installation of lights.)

What about the rest of you? When Interceptors start hitting the auctions, will you bite? Or do you have some, shall we say, concerns?

Ex-police Explorers, albeit sans impressive hood badges, are already hitting the auctions in a range of conditions from doubtful to front-end impact. The question is whether it’s a smart idea to buy one. For many years, retired police Caprices and Crown Vics formed the backbone of many a municipal taxi fleet. They were also an affordable choice for young people who wanted a lot of metal for the money. I’ve heard a lot of stories about people who bought full-size, rear-wheel-drive cop cars and put another ten trouble-free years on them.

Ford’s D3 platform can be remarkably reliable — just ask my brother, who has over 100,000 miles on his Flex, still on the original brake pads! — but it’s also far from simple and it’s not the sort of thing that any grease monkey out there can fix with his eyes closed. Reports from the field on W-body Impala cop cars seem to indicate that they just aren’t holding up the way the Crown Vics did once they reach private hands. So will the Explorer honor its Crown Vic heritage, or stay true to its FWD origins? At what price would you buy an Interceptor? And what would you expect from it?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

65 Comments on “QOTD: Would You Intercept This Explorer?...”


  • avatar
    jrhmobile

    Sure I’d bite, if I found one in good condition and relatively low miles (<100K) with the 3.7 non-turbocharged engine.

    I've had a handful of ex-police units, and they've been sturdy, reliable cars. They may not be the fastest, but they generally handle well, and as long as I replace worn/broken parts with police unit-quality replacements, they wear like iron.

    What's not to like?

  • avatar
    e30gator

    The panther dated back to the late 70s. It would be impossible to replicate that scenario with a modern vehicle unless they’re still using these platforms well into the 2030s.

    That said, I doubt buying a police issue Explorer is any worse of an idea than buying a police Crown Vic would have been in 1989. Considering cars generally last longer now than they did then, I’d say it’s a safe bet even if you can’t just fix it with a hammer and chisel.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      The Exploder’s platform reached production back in 1998 with a Volvo wrapper. It’s already ancient. That being said, I wouldn’t take a 120,000-government-employee-mile one for $1,500. $15,000 is positively goofy.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        Wow, I didn’t realize they were all based off of the Volvo P2 platform. They are ancient.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          what is the relevance of the date the platform was first launched? surely you don’t think the architecture is unchanged since the P2’s first days?

        • 0 avatar
          brn

          I’m tired of claims of Ford products being dated because they’re based on an old Volvo platform. Most platforms are evolved from a previous platform. That doesn’t make them as dated as the platform they’re based on. By definition, the opposite is true.

          The Ford Explorer rests on the Ford D4 platform, which is evolved from the Ford D3 platform, which is evolved from the Volvo P2 platform. The D4 platform began life in 2009. It’s far from ancient.

  • avatar

    A few years ago the price point in Canada for a P71 Crown Vic from a police force that does primarily highway patrolling was $5,000 (wholesale) and at that price they were good value.

    Will an Explorer that has done highway duty ideally as a “plain wrapper” be as reliable as a P71 Crown Vic? Probably not, more stuff to wear out on any all wheel drive vehicle. Will it be good value for someone looking for a family kicker at a reasonable price? Sure it will.

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    “When Interceptors start hitting the auctions, will you bite?”

    For a Ford Interceptor? Maybe. For a Ford Interceptor Utility as pictured? Absolutely not. I don’t drive CUV’s, end of story. I could see myself in a retired Taurus/Interceptor. I have an even easier time seeing myself in a retired Charger. But absolutely not an Interceptor Utility.

    Of course, hypothetically if I bought a retired cop car it would be the first 4 door car I have bought since I bought my first car in 2003. So really a retired cop car of any sort is not likely in my future.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      A friend of mine is a longtime master mechanic, and fleet services supervisor for the city of Dallas. He says the Chargers are junk, and can’t handle the abuse that the P71s could routinely shake off.

      • 0 avatar
        DevilsRotary86

        I would still take the Charger. I won’t drive anything with a solid rear axle and the Charger has a fairly nice multi link rear suspension.

        Which really shows how silly question this is for me. My desires and tastes in cars couldn’t be more opposite those of police.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yeah the Chargers coming through auction around here are almost more likely to have an announcement that the engine is shot than not. Not that uncommon to see one cross the block with 80k and an engine or trans announcement while the Crown Vics, Impalas, Tahoes and Expedtions regularly cross the block with no announcements and in some cases near 200k miles.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          What is breaking on the Chargers? Trans issues (for the 5-speed anyway) seem pretty rare on the civilian version.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Many times they don’t give specifics, just bad engine, needs engine work or bad transmission though the trans certainly seems far less common. But of the ones with specifics “valve train noise” is probably the most common problem I’ve seen listed.

            Occasionally you’ll see a good description of the car’s problems like this one.

            http://www.publicsurplus.com/sms/auction/view?auc=1749467

          • 0 avatar
            Andrzej N

            On Hemi equipped cars usually lifters. They can take a camshaft out too. Mine had some bad fuel injectors on top of that. Other thing – dropped valve seats , that’s common to many Chrysler products. I’ve also heard about problems with timing chains . Transmission seems to be pretty good. They have a fragile front suspension – multilink design.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      DR86, I’m with you, but I’d avoid the Turbo. The motor is good, but it tears through transmissions. Sign me up for a NA 3.5 or 3.7.

  • avatar
    mankyman

    I’ve owned a couple of P71s and can attest to their already covered virtues. But I’ve also owned a W body Impala for a short length of time and I was not impressed. I would be interested to hear what others have experienced with post-police ownership.

    • 0 avatar
      Hemi

      Having owned a handful of P71s, I can attest to thier cheap price and reliability. Last one I had was a 02 I sold with over 260k miles(bought with 110k miles).

      Trick to buying is to buy straight from auction if possible. Buy the “unmarked” service units, this avoids having shoddy repainted car and having least amount of holes. I remove any and all antennas left behind, spot light or other copish bits. Service is extremely cheap, just go to any cabbie repair shop. Keep up on maintaince and it will last forever.

  • avatar

    If I were buying a ex-police car, I’d go with the Charger over the Explorer. The only police vehicle that should have the word INTERCEPTOR spelled out on its bonnet is Mad Max’s modified Ford Falcon, IMO.

    As for buying an ex-cop car, the reason the Crown Vic was so attractive is because it was cheap to repair and find parts. Time will tell if the D3 platform will see the same economy of scale.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    If I were going to take the plunge I’d actually look for high miles relative to age (that means it hasn’t been sitting around idling all it’s life) and I’d look for the obvious signs that something is amiss. (Unevenly worn tires, highly inconsistent panel gaps, paint resprays)

    The price would have to be stinking cheap too compared to a regular old Explorer with similar miles/condition, say 50% of the price.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      While I haven’t confirmed it I’d bet just like the last of the Crown Victorias they have an idle hours meter or at least and engine hours meter like they have done in their pickups for a decade. It is only a few lines of code and you toggle through it with the trip meter(s) in the ODO display.

      As far as being worried about one with a lot of idle hours I wouldn’t be too scared. The Crown Victoria was designed to be stationary power source and will happily idle for days on end in any kind of weather w/o issue. I can’t believe that Ford didn’t take that into consideration when developing the current Interceptor’s power trains.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    An Explorer “interceptor”? Nope.

    But what about one of those Holden-built Caprices, with the 6.0?

    Oh, yes.

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      They look wonderfully sinister in Baltimore PD’s black livery, too:

      c2.staticflickr.com/8/7615/16641599788_f44f831ed9_b.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        A couple of years back someone ran into my back bumper and we had to call the police. The officer was driving one of the Caprices with the 6.0. His municipality actually lets officers drive their patrol cars home, and he told me he LOVED hooning that thing around.

        Basically, it’s a G8 GT, which is a Very Good Thing.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          My neighborhood is at the edge of two municipalities. I guess they both let officers take their interceptors home, too, because there are three sheriffs and three officers in my average-sized neighborhood.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            In that city (Aurora, CO), when the officers are driving the cars for personal use, they put a plastic “Not In Service” cover over the light bar.

            As I understand it, part of the reason Aurora does this is public safety – if the officer’s neighbors are lucky, he parks the cruiser in his driveway at night. No crook in his right mind would go anywhere near that neighborhood.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            There are a couple of reasons that agencies have take home cars.

            #1 it is cheaper as the car is assigned to a particular officer and it his or her responsibility. That means that they are much more careful than a driver of a pool car who can’t get away with saying that “it was like that when I got in it today”.

            #2 in rural areas that means much quicker response when there is a serious emergency sure the officer may be off-duty but when there is a shooting or a natural disaster those off duty officer are called into duty and they can head right to the scene.

            #3 like above if there is a major incident they have about as many cars as officers so all hands on deck means that all can do what is needed rather than trying to slam 3 or more officers in a partitioned patrol vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Sinister? Looks about as pedestrian as can be. Now THIS is sinister:

        https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–mINjjgsk–/c_scale,f_auto,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/wnjvktbbafdvrl3hdime.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Better act quickly they are coming through the auction regularly now and selling for $5-6K all day long. If you wait too much longer the supply is going to get very thin as many depts were one batch and done just like the Charger. The funny thing is that a totaled one will bring just about the same money as a fully functioning unit, at least around here, so it appears that just like the police no one really wants one to drive they just want the power train which makes a lot more power than the old Crown Vic and is miles ahead of the Charger in durability.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        I really want the motor out of a caprice. The escalade and truck driveteains bring a lot of $$ at the scrap yard if they are low miles

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Well based on what I’ve seen in my area a total brings about $4k. The plus of getting the whole car is that you get everything potentially saving some nickle and dimes that can add up and you can at least get a couple hundred for the scrap even if you can’t sell of some parts you won’t use.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The only current police vehicle I might ever own is the Caprice.

    Everything else has enough of a civilian analog that it isn’t worth it.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Here’s a report from the field, the Pgh Bureau of Police D3s as of MY13/14 are frequently back at the dealership for a variety of reasons. I don’t expect these things to be a buy after regular police use, the 3900 W-Impala certainly was not (jury still out on the 3.6 W-Impala).

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The Explorer isn’t an appealing vehicle new, so 100K miles of hard cop use isn’t going to make it attractive regardless of its ability to temporarily intimidate bro-dozers flying down the highway.

    100K miles on a Flex isn’t a good metric of reliability for these. It isn’t the first 100K I’d be worried about, it is the next and that is where your ownership experience is about to begin.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    Does the lighter work? Will it make it to Chicago without throwing a rod?

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    If I were going the ex-cop route, it would be with a later, unmarked, CVPI.

    It is ironic that most of the old CVPIs I see nowadays have been turned into DONKs.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    I can’t stand those fools who pretend to be cops in unmarked cars on the highways. Sometimes it can be really hard to tell them from legit cops.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    Driving one of these seems like a great way to encourage everyone in front of you to slow down to 1mph under the speed limit.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      No it is a good way to get people out of your way, after they drop their cell phone and put on their seat belt. My daughter did much of her driving on her learner’s permit in our Grand Marquis and she loved people getting out of her way so much that there really wasn’t a question that she wanted a P71 when it came time for her own car.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        My experience has been the same as Perisoft’s – our family owned a 1977 Impala for about 25 years – back in the 1980s, it looked like a cop car and it was maddening, sitting in the fast lane behind some scared person going 5-under the limit.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          I’d say that for every person that does the under the speed limit thing 5 or more start looking for a place to get over as quickly as possible.

          Then there is the fact that other public service employees will wave at you and they won’t bat an eye when you are doing 70 in a 60 instead they’ll target that minivan or pickup doing 67.

  • avatar
    thunderjet

    No. Have you seen what cops do to cruisers on a regular basis? I wouldn’t even take an “indestructible” CVPI. Police cars are usually pretty beat by the time they are retired, especially city units. The only retired police cars around Chicago that made it to being taxis were CVPIs. None of the D3 or W-body cars make it that far. Since CVPIs are drying up most Chicago taxi companies have switched to Prius, Escape hybrids, Camry Hybrids, or Altima Hybrids.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      I’ve read some stories that the Escapes have done well reliability-wise in the taxi usage. Did not expect that, so good on Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The reality is that cops don’t beat on their vehicles and the vast majority of the time they are just cruising around like any other vehicle. Now it is true that the cars that are from “1 man-1 car” agencies are usually much better kept than the pool car agencies, ie less likely to see the seats heavily stained and fewer dings and the like on the exterior.

    • 0 avatar
      SC5door

      Most, if not all, Chicago cab companies have switched to Hybrids, not because of the lack of CVPI’s, it was because of fuel prices.

      “I’ve read some stories that the Escapes have done well reliability-wise in the taxi usage.”

      Older Escape models, yes. Newer ones–not so much. The last “New” Escape taxi’s that I took had some serious suspension knocking issues going on. Either strut bearings were shot or bushings were already ate up.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I never understood those people with fake cop cars. Isn’t impersonating a police officer a felony? What is their end game?

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      they’re cheap. and you’re only “impersonating” a police officer if you try to act like one; e.g. running with the lights and siren (which are typically removed and illegal for a non-law-enforcement person to install) or attempt to assert yourself as a police officer to someone. Simply driving a Crown Vic with A-pillar spotlights isn’t going to do it.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Actually the P71s I’ve had still had their sirens and strobes installed they just removed the controllers. Of course at the last auction they had a pallet of the strobe controllers.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    Can you also get “PURSUIT”?

    Asking for a movie fan friend.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    You can get the letters across the hood of the PIU with the 3.5L EcoBoost, it’s not a standalone option to add the letters. You can opt to delete all exterior badges with 19D on the sedan and 16D on the utility.

    `16 and now `17 utility’s will be more expensive to repair as the headlights and tail-lamps are all LED, something that the sedan doesn’t have.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Personally I’m more likely to go for a Sedan than a Utility, I just wish that the agencies around here would buy the EcoBoost models instead of those with the base engine.

  • avatar
    Hoon Goon

    Myself and many others can’t stand posers running around in these cars. “Copsuckers” is a fitting term. I try to avoid resentment in my life, but I resent this and wish all retired cop cars (if not used for taxi service) would be burned in a huge pit of hell.

    I would think that cops probably feel the same way. Getting people to move over, slow down, and preferential treatment on the road just makes you that much more of an asshat. Extra negativity if you put ANY “thin blue line” sticker or front licence plate on it. I will stop before I get all worked up.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Maybe you shouldn’t drive like an asshat and then you wouldn’t have a mini heart attack just because you see a car that looks like it could be a cop.

      I seriously doubt any law enforcement resents seeing retired cars on the road, it just extends their presence and makes the roads safer. Getting the guy going way to fast to put on his brakes, the person doing 3 under in the fast lane to move over and the person yapping on their phone or texting to put it down makes the roads safer for everyone.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    When I hear “Interceptor” I think of the KGB Interceptor, the GAZ Volga 24 V8. A rare beast, quick, built like a truck, and feared by everyone.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Not a chance would I buy one. Far too delicate, far too problematic, etc. with Ford building every single vehicle with planned obsolescence being priority number one, there is not way these delicate Explorers and Taurus’ will last half the life of your average Crown Vic.

  • avatar

    Better question – why buy a ragged out Explorer when you could have a PPV Tahoe instead?

  • avatar
    Avid Fan

    So, this answers the old X number of monkeys and X number of typewriters question. C’mon, Jack you’re better than this.

  • avatar
    yuppiemike

    No, I would actually prefer an off rental Explorer. Watch the video “Ford Police Interceptor Utility Quirks – What civilians need to know before buying!” off duty these cars are a pain to use, the auto locking rear lift gate, no key-less entry, no aux cord, forget it. The interior finish of interceptors is not worth the “cool” factor of the exterior. I would rather just have a civi one with heated seats and light up cup holders.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      PI versions of Fords have always been more crude than the civilian versions.

      Btw: As he explains in his video, you can add Ford keyless entry. In fact you can add quite a few things (explained in his follow up video).

      Is it worth the hassle? That’s up to the individual.

  • avatar
    OzCop

    I worked for Lexington, KY PD for 27 years. We went to “home fleet” cars in 1972 based on an Omni Presence concept. Officers were allowed to drive them home, drive them off duty, and anywhere in the county. The caveat was, if you were near an emergency call, you were expected to respond. You could leave the county with permission for police business, or to attend classes out of county. Counting special duty vehicles an motorcycles, our fleet was slightly above 500 units.

    Any officer issued a cruiser was responsible for the cleanliness, inside and out, as well as under the hood. We had quarterly stand up inspections of these cars and they had to be standing tall, as well as services performed at regular 3K mile intervals. 90% of those cars were very well kept, clean, serviced, and ready for duty. You were expected to get a minimum of 100K miles, and you kept the car a minimum of 3 years assuming you received it new. For new officers coming in, they may receive a car from the pool fleet, or from a retiree, and generally they had first dibs when new cars arrived.

    We tried turn the fleet over every 4 years, but most often they were at least 5 years old before going to auction. Officers were allowed to upgrade AM/FM radios at their own expense, but they had to be professionally installed in the original location. CB radios could be added at officer expense as well.

    I was the fleet commander during my final 12 years of service, and as such, while not responsible for maintenance and repair, my office was responsible for working with fleet services regarding any perceived mis-use or abuse, as well as monitoring repairs and repair costs. I also wrote specs, and received new purchases, as well as received old units and determined which would be removed from service. I handled all vehicle assignments as well. All wrecked, and other vehicle damage came through my office, and we handled estimates and repairs with private vendors.

    I purchased a 77 Plymouth Fury II retired police car for my son’s first car. We removed all police id from our vehicles before they went to auction with the exception of the spot light. I removed the wiring from the spot light, and he and I made it a project to sand the car and get it ready for him to drive as a 17 year old teenager. After repaint we went through the brake system, installed new tires and the car was pretty danged good looking when we finished. He drove it for 4 years before we sold it to get him something cheaper to drive. This car had only the 318 two bbl carb, but was still a gas hog…

    Bottom line, I would not hesitate to buy a retired police unit if I knew its history. It might take some legwork, but police departments and fleet services keep pretty good computerized records on cars these days. I would not want to buy a 24 hour per day pool type police unit, but an individually driven car would not be out of the question…

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • RRocket: Is this really any different than TTAC’s “Best Automotive Product” reviews? They read like...
  • Chetter: 2018 PHEV owner here. Car was bought as a third car solely for its ability to qualify for the LIE HOV pass....
  • Weltron: “The sort of brand that screams ‘I’ve made poor financial choices’.” I don’t know. The...
  • Weltron: Exactly. You’re not “calling them out” but this sure seems like a call out to me. And if...
  • SCE to AUX: Illegal aliens, if you ask some people.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber