By on March 17, 2021

Ford has released the new Police Responder version of its ever-popular F-150 pickup. Intended for government use and timed ahead of the spring bid, the automaker is clearly hoping it’s something law enforcement will be interested in since it should be an ideal pick for rural police departments, government agencies concerned with wildlife/nature, and border control operations.

The manufacturer already sells the F-150 SSV (special service vehicle), making the Police Responder sort of a deluxe version. It comes with upgraded skid plates, Goodyear Wrangler Enforcer all-terrain tires, an electronic rear differential (found in the FX4 Off-Road bundle), and a new torque-on-demand transfer case that automatically swaps between rear- and four-wheel drive depending upon terrain. It also comes standard with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6’s 400 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque, 10-speed automatic, and a higher top speed, which Ford says makes the Responder pickup “pursuit rated.” But it’s a term we’ve grown skeptical of ever since the automaker applied it to the Police Responder Hybrid Sedan and F-Series Police Responder from the 2018 model year

Our beef was that such designations had historically hinged on the testing provided by the Michigan State Police’s (MSP) Precision Driving Unit. But Ford had started calling vehicles “pursuit rated” before they had been assessed after taking a beating on Grattan Raceway by cops who had devoted themselves to becoming absolute legends behind the wheel. Vehicles also didn’t appear to meet the purchasing specifications outlined by the MSP and Los Angeles County Sheriff, both of which require pursuit automobiles to be capable of at least 120 miles an hour.

But F-150 Police Responder is supposed to reach the 120 mph benchmark by the skin of its teeth in what’s clearly an effort to adhere to the existing standards. While that makes it an unlikely candidate for taking down built highway monsters and crotch rockets, it should be more than sufficient for regular duty and provides favorable optics for the manufacturer by meeting those minimum standards on an all-terrain vehicle.

As you might imagine, Ford is offering loads of customization for departments and has added the kind of features that appeal to law enforcement to make this more than your average F-Series. The “Police Idle” feature allows drivers to get out of the truck, taking the key with them, without the engine shutting off. This allows officers to continue running lights or sirens without depleting the battery and lets the car idle without someone driving away with it. Meanwhile, the dashboard takes on a decidedly utilitarian format ideal for departments who want to install their own accessories (emergency lights, radio equipment, etc).

The 2021 F-150 Police Responder also receives a standard integrated modem providing access to Ford Telematics — something the automaker pioneered with law enforcement and is now being made ubiquitous among its fleet vehicles. The system tracks car locations and current status while calculating uptime, operating costs, and a slew of other data points about where and how the truck is being driven. Odds are good that Ford is scraping data regardless, provided the modem is activated. However, departments will need to pay a subscription to have access to Ford Data Services.

SYNC 4 is standard, meaning over-the-air updates, and Ford has seen fit to offer blind-spot monitoring (with cross-traffic alerts) and a 360-degree towing camera (with trailer backup assist) as options. Factory color options should suit just about every department (including fire departments) that isn’t using Buford T. Justice beige and brown.

[Images: Ford Motor Co.]

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41 Comments on “2021 Ford F-150 Police Responder, Pursuit Rated at Last?...”


  • avatar
    EX35

    Meh. Needs a v8

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I had been V8 all the way until the hybrid came out. I think on a “street rod” build I’d still want the Coyote, but on a Dad Truck the hybrid with the bigger bed generator would be tempting.

      Cop trucks should probably have the 3.3L, maybe the 2.7TT for highway use units.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      The SSV pickup still comes with a bunch of engine options, including the 5.0-liter V8 and hybridized V6.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      Of course it needs a V8. Usually police/ agencies benefit from reliable vehicles which Ford has no intent of making.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    High-speed pursuits kill almost as many innocent people as suspects, and aren’t worth the risk to the public in the vast majority of cases. (The exception might be someone who’s threatening the general public, like the DC sniper or something.) Use the helicopter, shoot a GPS tracker onto the vehicle if you’re close enough to it, tell every cop within a hundred-mile radius to be on the lookout, but don’t start chasing at 120+ mph.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      All true but then what are they going to put on LA’s evening news if they end chases?

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      While pursuit rated does bring visions of cops chasing down perps but the pursuit rating is for more than that. Think about the sheriff and state patrol responsible for large rural areas. When that officer calls for back up chances are the closest officer is 50 miles away or more. If it something real serious it may mean bringing officers from 100mi away or more.

      So in Ford speak being pursuit rated is about the vehicle being able to be driven at top speed for an hour or more and all the cooling requirements needed to make that happen in 100+ degree temps.

      • 0 avatar
        redapple

        TO: Scout

        Correct. 120 test needed to prove durability. Potential.

        I wonder about people who s Rorschach is police wrong doing. Chases killing the innocent. Bidet voter &; i ll bet the contents of my checking account. (but, i m rabid dog pro police. 8 brothers and family members are Police Officers.)

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          It’s just a fact that (1) chases do kill way more than their share of innocent people and (2) no other developed country uses them to nearly the same extent. You don’t have to think everything police do is wrong to think it would be better for everyone if they stopped the chases. And many urban departments are in fact stopping them.

          The LA local news will just have to learn to report on actual news.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            About six or seven years ago an order went out to the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to terminate high speed pursuits I think unless they were murder suspects. Since then there were a number of incidents of car theft and smash-n-grabs using high powered cars (LX cars mostly IIRC) because eventually the local criminal elements also got that memo. So while on one hand the risk of collateral damage has gone down, on the other there have been incidents of crime directly related to this order.

            I asked about helicopters years back and was told they are very expensive to operate so the Bureau didn’t have one. Today drones could probably be (and may be being) used but me personally I don’t like the idea of living in an aerial surveillance state (drones are so cheap eventually someone would want to run them 24/7/365 once they figure that out).

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I’d rather have another few car break-ins than a bunch of dead bystanders. We have to be realistic about which law enforcement practices are very risky to the general public and which are less so.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Easy for the person not affected to preach for the “greater good”.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Don’t assume. As it happens my garage was broken into just last week, and someone stole my bicycle. The perp can go die in a fire as far as I’m concerned. But that doesn’t mean I would want the police to careen around my city at 100 mph putting pedestrians in danger in an effort to catch him.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        My understanding is “pursuit rated” also has to do with indemnity insurance. Department patrol and I believe unmarked vehicles need to be rated as such for liability reasons, otherwise I imagine certain “we get money for you” attorneys could argue “you were in pursuit of a suspect in a civilian vehicle which wasn’t designed for X when Y happened to my client”. The only exception I know of for this are the large Econoline type transport vans and light trucks to transport suspects (such as “paddywagons”) but neither is ever used in actual pursuits AFAIK.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Since we have such a “public drunkenness/aggressive panhandler” problem there are “Community Service” police vehicles to deal with it. They’re all panel vans. No need to worry about top speed.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          “Pursuit rated” does not have a legal definition or even a universally accepted definition. It is a marketing term.

          Check out what the MSP has to say on the term in paragraphs 2 & 3 page 8 of the 2020 test results.

          https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwj6sODKtbrvAhV2GjQIHQTfDnEQFjABegQIAxAD&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.michigan.gov%2Fdocuments%2Fmsp%2FTestResultsCombinedMY2020_666841_7.pdf&usg=AOvVaw2EX39Dyn9t-0T85-PoAQ2R

        • 0 avatar
          MrIcky

          I am in the business of insuring police departments and other governmental agencies. Pursuit rated is marketing speak and has absolutely 0 to do with getting covered.

          Honestly when you read the spec sheet of recent pursuit rated vehicles- besides basics like tires and alternators, most of the stuff on the list is more about handling long idle times than going fast.

          I’m in a rural state too, and the 50 miles away example is absolutely true- however if you are going much above about 20 over, you are flirting with “reckless disregard” in all but the most serious immediate threats.

          The biggest reasons for cops having bigger vehicles is all the crap they have to carry. It is not unreasonable to expect a solo officers payload (including self of course) to be 700lbs if they’re SWAT trained.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            According to Ford most police vehicles end up with 4-500lbs of equipment by the time you add the stuff attached to the vehicle and any gear that is carried.

            With today’s speed limits of 70-80 on many freeways rolling at 100 mph isn’t that much faster than traffic if there is any to speak of. Back in the days of the R&P daytime limit in Montana there was one time I hung with a trooper for about an hour with my cruise sat 95mph.

    • 0 avatar

      “High-speed pursuits kill almost as many innocent people as suspects”

      But it is so romantic, so wild west.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Just responding “Code 3” is really no different than a high speed pursuit, in the city. It’s simply the repeated standing on the brakes, clearing the intersection, standing on the gas. Over and over.

      A chase suspect/perp may run red lights with blatant disregard, blind intersections no problem. But cops can’t.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      And for the love of driving (and sanity): If you do have to “pursue” something at 120, or even 40, don’t do it in a jacked up body on frame jalopy with a live rear axle.

      More down-to-earth: If you need to haul roadcones, tall signs, lights etc. as quickly as possible to an accident scene to control traffic; I suppose this makes some sort of sense…….

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Ford used to side with the (freedom-minded) little guy:

    https://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/ford/2019/02/09/bonnie-clyde-chestnut-barrow-ford/2812888002/

  • avatar
    Lynchenstein

    I remember the 5.0 Mustang LX police cars. Those were mighty cool if you were a cop.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    F-150 SSV is in use by the local branch of the New Mexico State Police and it is in unmarked form. At first they were pretty smart and using it on the local state highways where it was quite effective and quite difficult to distinguish from the thousands of other all black F150s in the area (wisely they kept chrome wheels on it.) Lately they have decided to park it at the maintenance entrance to the local Solar Farm which happens to put it along I-40. It sticks out like a sore thumb. Almost as stupid as when the local PD took their unmarked Taurus and parked it between lanes of a 4 lane highway. (Hey numbskull, thanks for helping me figure out what the makes/models/colors of your unmarked units are. Don’t you have some real,non-speeding criminals to catch?)

  • avatar
    Mike-NB2

    “… rural police departments, government agencies concerned with wildlife/nature, and border control operations…” My a**. Urban departments will want these latest and greatest toys. Regardless of the financial and environmental costs. And I’m not even remotely biased against the police.

    Hello?? Climate change? Ever hear of it?

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    There’s unmarked police F150s prowling the Anthony Henday Freeway around here. One night though, I was slowly catching up to a Lincoln Navigator at 3-5kph over the 100kph limit. I drew alongside and it burst with flashing lights and the officer driving looked down at me and wagged his finger. I let off the gas assuming I was going to get a ticket for 3 or 4 kph over, but the lights went off and my exit was next. What city buys Lincoln Navigators?

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The don’t buy Lincolns, they take them. I know that I’ve seen more than one car come up at a gov’t auction that they had seized and then decided to use the car for the police dept. Some as more or less general patrol cars, other for undercover work and nice custom cars for the DARE officer and of course end up putting them up for sale.

      Other times or course they send the seizures straight to auction so they can have the cash. Some cool stuff will show up in this section from time to time. https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?fa=Main.AdvSearchResultsNew&searchPg=Category&additionalParams=true&sortOption=ad&timing=BySimple&timingType=&category=94O&rowCount=10&StartRow=1

      A couple of years ago there was a full custom full size Chevy from the 60’s. When it was built the owner had a place to stash a hand gun concealed in the driver’s footwell area. Lift up the floor mat and know exactly where to grab the carpet and pull and there was a nice compartment sized for a hand gun or drugs. One of the stipulations of the auction was that you had to have the secret compartment removed and submit proof within a certain amount of time.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    As a taxpayer I find it very upsetting that municipalities are stocking their fleets with such large, wasteful vehicles that I am quite sure come with significantly higher price tags and operational costs vs the standard Charger police interceptor. I can understand having a few available for certain tasks, but there is no reason to have large numbers of pickups or even Tahoe’s in any significant numbers on any police force.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      My friend who is responsible for approving the purchases of vehicles for a local city went from the Charger to the Tahoe to save money. Yes it cost a little more up front but it costs less to operate and sells for more when they are done with it.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I’ve read that about Tahoe, I think even the Ford D4s were cheaper to operate overall than the LX cars despite the latter delivering better mileage.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          My friend told me the Chargers busted his fuel budget. The Dodge people touted the better EPA rating of the Charger over the Crown Vic and in the real world they used much more fuel. Gal/hr idle time is really more important than MPG for a police vehicle however a lot of the officers thought they were boy racers since they “got Hemi” which killed the times when it could have been more fuel efficient. It also killed a number of cars, but thankfully not any people, as the incidence of single vehicle crashes skyrocketed. The switch to the Tahoe helped the fuel budget considerably and the amount spent on crash repair went back down.

          Note at the time that police dept was pretty messed up. It was all old timers that were waiting on retirement or young guns straight out the academy who quickly moved on for a better work environment after they figured things out.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Interesting as I had read their rating was the highest of the three tested at the time (I believe Tahoe, Charger, and Taurus) though I think the Pentastar V6 was the motor tested and not a Hemi. This must have been about 2014/15 I first read it because the MY14 PPV was offered in Pentastar and Hemi.

            “The police version of the Dodge Charger was made available with a choice of a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 (292 hp) or 5.7-liter HEMI V8 (370 hp) engine, larger 14.5-inch front brake discs, increased front-caliper swept area from 289 sq.in to 388 sq.in., increased rear-caliper swept area from 291 sq.in. to 296 sq.in.”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodge_Charger_(LX/LD)

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            I’m sure the Pentastar does better on MPG than the Hemi. But the main problem was the way the officers drove them.

  • avatar
    namesakeone

    This is great timing. Ford is introducing a new variant of the F-150, which is sure to spark fleet demand…just in time for a computer chip shortage to bring F-150 production to a standstill.

  • avatar
    Jeff Semenak

    So, Pursuit-rated means 105 mph Governor Limited Top speed? It would be interesting to see how fast, without the Limiter. It’s not like, speed-rated Tires are unavailable. The Tahoe’s have them.

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