By on January 4, 2019

Image: Ford

After rocking the same design with only minor alterations since 2011, Ford will soon debut an all-new Explorer. Arriving this year as a 2020 model, the model adopts the modular CD6 platform shared with Lincoln’s Aviator, making the new version of the venerable SUV rear-drive biased once again. New powerplants are also on the way.

Before we lay eyes on the new ute, however, Ford wants to show us, once again, the Explorer’s law enforcement brother: the Police Interceptor Utility, which the company first revealed under the cloak of darkness last June. We now have light. A wildly common sight on North American roads, the new version of the copped-up Explorer is all about nabbing bad guys … and saving departments money. The vehicle you see here arrives with a standard hybrid drivetrain.

It’s a pursuit-rated vehicle, so the hybridized rig isn’t a slouch. With standard gas-electric operation and all-wheel drive, Ford wants this vehicle to be the reason agencies around the country ditch their Chargers and Tahoes.

In Michigan State Police testing, Ford claims the hybrid Police Interceptor Utility ran away from the pack, besting even V8 offerings from other brands. The new rig beats the outgoing 3.7-liter model by 1.1 seconds in a 0-60 dash, and by 4.7 seconds in a run up to 100 mph. Top speed is 137 mph. The automaker states that in terms of 0-100 acceleration, lap time, average lap speed, and top speed, the eco cruiser can’t be beat. Well, except by another, hotter variant of the same vehicle.

While remaining stingy with specs, Ford says the standard setup is a 3.3-liter dual-injection V6 coupled to an electric motor and a 10-speed automatic, leaving the system’s combined horsepower and torque a mystery. The vehicle can also be ordered with the 3.3L sans electrification, or with the twin-turbo 3.0-liter Ecoboost V6 found in the upcoming Explorer ST and Aviator. The 3.3L found in Ford’s F-150 makes 290 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, while the twin-turbo Lincoln generates an even 400 hp and 400 lb-ft.

In hybrid guise, the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery doesn’t consume any additional cabin space, nor will it electrocute nearby fish while traversing 18 inches of water at 15 mph.

Speaking of green, Ford’s banking on departments wanting to save some. Citing an estimated combined fuel economy of 24 mpg, Ford claims the Police Interceptor Utility, in normal fleet duty, stands to save departments $3,500 a year in fuel costs (based on pump prices of $2.75 a gallon). If fuel prices climb, and yours truly sure hopes they don’t, the savings will obviously be higher.

As you can see in these front-angle-only images (and the artificially lightened ones we published in June), the 2020 Explorer doesn’t entirely depart from the previous model’s familiar shape. However, the revamp has lent the vehicle a slightly more athletic stance. Its face now has more in common with the refreshed Edge. Meanwhile, there’s a host of technological advancements designed to help protect officers, which we detailed in the earlier piece.

The release of new images of the 2020 Police Interceptor Utility comes five days before the 2020 Explorer’s pre-auto show debut in Detroit on January 9th.

[Images: Ford Motor Company]

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38 Comments on “2020 Ford Explorer Again Appears in Cop Clothing...”


  • avatar
    Verbal

    Washington State Patrol Explorers are a common sight on my daily commute. These are their preferred vehicles for performing revenue enhancement activities (e.g., sitting in speed traps with radar guns pointed at oncoming traffic).

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    make note: acquire black or white Explorer, add brush guard and low roof rack. Cut commute time in half.

    make note: design and sell automatic cover for Hellcat license plate, with a deploy switch under the gas pedal. 137mph? Here, John Law, hold mah beer, watch this.

  • avatar
    thejohnnycanuck

    So will you need to take half the front end apart to do an oil change like the new Ranger?

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      So half the front end is a tire? Guessing you don’t work on much. Personally I’d have worked in some snark about carbon monoxide leaks and exploding Pintos but hey, you tried.

      • 0 avatar
        thejohnnycanuck

        ex·ag·ger·a·tion
        /iɡˌzajəˈrāSH(ə)n/

        noun

        a statement that represents something as better or worse than it really is. “it would be an exaggeration to say I had morning sickness, but I did feel queasy” synonyms: overstatement, overemphasis, magnification, amplification, aggrandizement;

        More: the action of making statements that represent something as better or worse than it really is. “he was prone to exaggeration”

        You know I don’t think I’ve ever been on a car forum with as many humourless drips as TTAC. Wow, serious much?

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          There were over 100 responses full of supposed “car people” in a “car forum” griping about having to take off a tire to change an oil filter so I think your use of the term “car forum” is the real exaggeration. Just go to Car Max and get an Avalon like the rest of the “Car People” in here.

          • 0 avatar
            thejohnnycanuck

            For the record Art, I own an even dozen vehicles ranging in size from a 50cc Yamaha scooter to an F-250 and just about everything in between. I do all my own routine maintenance so “Guessing you don’t work on much” was the wrong assumption. And having to take off a wheel to change a filter on a brand new, clean slate design is an absolute joke.

            But then cutting corners is what Ford does best.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            So what would you call my old Land Cruiser that required engine removal for a heater hose replacement or my golden era Nissan Hardbody that had the same procedure for changing the oil. This isn’t all that uncommon.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            But it isn’t an import brand so we call it corner cutting I suppose.

          • 0 avatar
            George B

            Art, I for one am glad for the attention to detail that someone put into the Avalon in the household. The oil filter is on the front side of the engine and the oil capacity is 5.0 quarts which matches the jug of oil. Super easy oil change. They also provided a handy flap and spare tire location so it’s possible to check it’s air pressure without removing all the crap women store in the trunks of their cars.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    I get it, this is the shape of where police cars have been recently and where they are going but somehow it just doesn’t seem right.

  • avatar
    jfb43

    Glad to see this as a proper RWD-based SUV/crossover and the hybrid option is icing on the cake. Took Ford long enough, but this is moving in the right direction. Still waiting to see what the Bronco looks like, but this could be a viable SUV option for many who were previously turned off by the FWD layout. For me, I don’t need a third row, but whatever; maybe there will be a third-row-delete option.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      And in my town, the ex-chief mechanic at the Subaru dealer and the only one not practiced at opening new carboard boxes but actually fixing things, now runs the city cop car maintenance shop, so can source K9 doggie cages from his old pals to fit the third seat delete option space. Here, Bartholomew! Sit, boy!

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Well the police version is w/o a 3rd row and back on the last RWD based Explorer the 3rd row was an option (though it was standard on the Merc and Lincoln versions). So maybe they will offer a civilian 2 row.

      It does get me interested in the new Explorer being RWD and having the Hybrid option. Maybe I’ll finally retire our 03 Mountaineer that I’ve hung onto since the FWD based units just don’t do it for me and at this point for front line duty I’m only buying hybrids.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Ford released the specs to police agencies and opened up the order form some time ago. I’m not sure where this misunderstanding of the base model being the hybrid version.

    From my state’s contract.

    Base vehicle description: 2020 Ford Police Interceptor AWD Pursuit-Rated Utility/SUV K8A
    Trim Level: Police Standard 500A
    Engine: 3.3L V6 Direct-Injection (136MPH Top Speed) (Hybrid option available) 99B
    Horsepower/Torque: TBD STANDARD
    GVWR: N/A STANDARD
    Average MPG (US Dept of Energy): TBD INFO
    Transmission: 10-Speed Automatic Police-Calibrated Transmission (Column Shifter)

    And that base model will set my state, or any other gov’t agency in the state that takes advantage of the program $32,800

    On the option list is.

    2020-0519-011 NEW – Alternative Engine, 3.0L V6 EcoBoost with 10-Speed Automatic Transmission, 3.31 Axle Ratio (148-MPH Top Speed) (99C/44U) $4,041.00

    2020-0519-012 NEW – Alternative Hybrid (HEV) Engine System [Includes 3.3L V6 Direct-Injection Hybrid Engine System, Lithium-Ion Battery Pack (does not intrude into the cargo area), police calibrated high-performance regenerative braking system, DC/DC converter 220-Amp (in lieu of alternator), H7 AGM Battery – 800 CCA / 80-Amp, 19-Gallon Fuel Tank, 8-Year/100,000-Mile Hybrid Unique Component Warranty] (Not compatible with 3.0L V6 EcoBoost option) (99W/44B) $3,302.00

    So I’m seeing that the Hybrid system is an extra cost option and not exactly cheap.

    I sure hope the civilian version gets a better fuel economy rating than that Get me near 30 on the city cycle and I’m in or maybe the Aviator with the turbos and plug it gets in Hybrid guise.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      $32k. That’s outrageous.

      The current Explorer (at state bid pricing) has a base price of $26-$27k. So an increase of over $5k per unit.

      I see Chrysler picking up a lot of sales considering you can get a V8 Charger for under $22k. That’s over $10k less than an Explorer.

      A V8 Durango costs $25.8k for RWD and $27.5k for AWD.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        10k less than a Tahoe. The Charger is not really a comparison…way smaller.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        The 19 bid for my state

        Charger $23,950
        Duhrango AWD $30,460
        Tahoe $32,248

        So the UI is right in the middle for the relevant competition and that is for the AWD UI while that Tahoe is RWD.

        The Charger has always had the lowest base price but it has never sold that well. I know a guy who works for a local city and he picked Chargers when they came out and he replaced them with Tahoes since they were cheaper in the long run thanks to better up time, lower maintenance and repair costs and better fuel economy. Not to mention the officers wrecked the Chargers left and right.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’ve never been much of an Ecoboost fan, but the 3.0L and (especially) the 3.5L HO don’t f*ck around.

  • avatar
    deanst

    I was wondering why the math didn’t make any sense – the vast majority of the claimed fuel savings occur due to lower costs at idle, not due to the different mpg of the old versus new model. It would be nice if the article pointed this out.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      Ford also claimed that with the current police Explorer and Taurus…..that they saved tones of money in fuel versus the Crown Vic and in reality that was a massive lie.

      The MPG were about the same so that was a wash yet the vehicles themselves ended up costing the municipalities much more. It’s the same thing with this new Explorer.

  • avatar
    Dilrod

    What does the long term maintenance cost on these hybrids look like? If officers are beating the tar out of these things or subjecting them to a lot of in-town slow driving & idling, how will they hold up? Will the fuel savings get wiped out?

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Well, I can tell you this. My employer is big on using hybrids to keep costs down. The typical vehicles over the past 10 years – Escapes, various Toyotas (including but not just Prii), Altimas have proven to be very reliable, especially the hybrid portion. I know the guy who’s job is to mange the vehicles and hybrid-related failures are extremely rare. Most get well over 100K and are sold without ever touching the hybrid system. I also know that the NYPD uses many hybrids though I don’t have any data on them. Fleet operators have to provide costs for repairs, downtime, etc. so if the hybrids were non-competitive from a reliability and cost perspective I think they would be dropped from the lineup. Hybrid taxis are also very common and down time is directly related to lost revenue. If time lost ate into fare income the hybrid cab would be a thing of the past.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Per Scottdude’s post above, Ford is offering an 8 year / 100K warranty on the hybrid powertrain. Assuming the hybrid version goes into full patrol rotation, that 100K will get burned up in just a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Can you run the electronics off the hybrid battery? If you could do that and maybe the AC you could potentially cut down on wear and tear due to all the idling.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    No mention of the massive price increase with these new police Explorers?

    The base price goes from around $26.7k to around $32k for the Explorer. You can get a V8 Durango for $26k or a V8 Charger for $21.7k.

    Those are all state bid fleet prices.

    Minnesota State Patrol has already signed contracts away from Ford and is going with the Charger to save money.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Will they really save money? My friend is a Florida cop and the vehicles in his department that have the most downtime? Chargers. The most fun to drive? Chargers. Maybe there is a correlation, but most departments install a device called a canceiver that tracks how the vehicle is being used. Hard braking, throttle position, WOT, G forces, pretty much any operational parameter on the bus is being tracked.

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        My good friend manages a police fleet and they have all sorts of problems with their Explorers. Of course 99% of the fleet is Explorers so it’s rather obvious why the majority of problems are from the Explorers.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        My friend mentioned above that is head of the dept that purchases and maintains all the vehicles for a local city. He made the decision to go with Chargers when they were still relatively new.

        When they first did it he told me he went with the Chargers because they were cheaper than the Crown Vic and would get better MPG.

        He quickly found out that the Chargers were budget busters, using up their budgeted fuel and other costs well before the end of the year. So the next purchase was Tahoes and he reported that they were less expensive overall than the Chargers.

        Now some of that was due to the fact that the officers found the Chargers fun to drive, so they ran them hard and also wrecked them at a much higher rate.

        The current Explorers are not holding a candle to the reliability and durability of the Crown Vic however from what I’ve seen they aren’t any worse than the Charger and departed Caprice but were behind the Tahoe.

        We’ll have to wait and see how the new one does, hopefully since the platform was destined to be a police vehicle from the start the durability and reliability will be better than the outgoing one.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I very rarely see these around here (except on episodes of “The Rookie” where they seem to destroy 2-3 an episode). All over the municipal departments here have gone over to the Tahoe exclusively. The Highway Patrol seems quite enamored of the Charger, with a few Tahoe’s sprinkled in.

  • avatar

    Yup. Got zapped and followed by an NJSP version yesterday, marked. Sadly it had HID lights, so it was the first cop car I’ve ever seen that didn’t have base halogen lights….the night profile is civilian. He followed up for 5 miles or so, rolled by, and seeing a middle aged couple ignored us further….

  • avatar
    mpzz

    How many times are cops going to need to go 137mph? Most cops worry about being comfortable and having enough room for two people in front along with all the equipment that rides up there with them. And a body on frame vehicle is always going to stand up better to the beating a police car takes than a unibody. The Tahoe wins on every functional level, with the price being the only limiting factor.


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