Ford recently began giving law enforcement agencies more options in terms of the type of automobiles they want to put into active duty. The company provided America’s preferred pursuit vehicle, the Crown Victoria, for years and has moved on to a broader fleet of sedans, SUVs, and pickups specifically equipped for police use.
Earlier this year, Ford showcased the Police Responder Hybrid Sedan as part of its Greener Shade of Blue campaign — dubbing it the “first pursuit-rated hybrid police car.”
We condemned Ford for its bragging, mainly because Chevrolet already provided a hybrid police vehicle and there was no concrete evidence that the Police Responder Hybrid Sedan was actually pursuit-rated. Unfortunately, we may be forced to do that all over again with Ford’s new F-150 Police Responder pickup. It’s another new, likely welcome, entry into the automaker’s extensive law enforcement fleet that leaves us doubting the validity of the terminology used.
When enquiring about the Hybrid Sedan’s worthiness of being considered a pursuit vehicle, Lt. Michael McCarthy, from the Michigan State Police’s Precision Driving Unit, stated he wanted to reserve all formal judgements until after the car had undergone the department’s rigorous annual testing at Grattan Raceway.
As anyone with a sincere interest in squad cars will tell you, manufacturers (and practically every police department in North America) look to the MSP to provide useful benchmarks for the capabilities of vehicles outfitted for law enforcement.
“Ford has a Police Advisory Board which consists of approximately 25 members from police agencies around the nation and Canada,” Lt. McCarthy explained. “Many of the suggestions that have been made at these meetings have been incorporated into their police vehicles. The Board meets 2-4 times per year and puts the members in direct contact with the engineers making their vehicles.”
The Michigan State Police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s also provide the purchasing specifications and testing criteria necessary to develop what they consider a pursuit-rated vehicle. While automakers can technically call the models whatever they want, it’s not unreasonable to assume the terms used by the manufacturer adhere to these targets. “Our purchasing spec says that [a pursuit vehicle] must accelerate from 0-60 mph in 9.0 seconds, 0-80 mph in 14.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in 24.6 seconds, and attain a top speed of 120 mph — minimum,” McCarthy told us.
While there is little doubt the F-150 Police Responder’s 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost can hit most of these guidelines, especially with 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque on tap, Ford indicates it is limited to 100 mph. However, the automaker is still calling the pickup “pursuit-rated.”
“Ford’s 2018 F-150 Police Responder is the perfect all-terrain law enforcement vehicle,” said Stephen Tyler, Ford’s police brand marketing manager, in a release. “Aside from its industry-first on-road pursuit capability, this purpose-built pickup can comfortably seat five, while providing capability in off-road patrol situations for officers in rural environments patrolled by sheriff’s departments, border patrol operations and the Department of Natural Resources.”
Even though this is more of a problem for Ford’s marketing department than its engineers, it does seem inappropriate to bestow a meaningful label upon the truck before it has proven itself deserving of it. Additionally, Ford typically calls its pursuit cars Interceptors — as is the case with the Taurus-based Police Interceptor Sedan and Explorer-based Police Interceptor Utility. Calling the F-150 a “Responder,” which Ford also did with the Hybrid Sedan, seems to indicate the company wasn’t willing to fully commit.
Fastidiousness aside, some departments are likely to be interested in the new pickup. General Motors offers the Silverado Special Service Vehicle but the F-150 should outperform it in terms of fuel economy, thanks to its comparatively smaller engine and 10-speed automatic.
Coming standard with the FX4 off-road package, the Ford pickup uses a part-time four-wheel-drive system with low-range transfer case and comes with a locking rear differential, skid plates, and model-specific shocks. As a police vehicle, the Responder is outfitted with the obligatory 240-amp alternator, column-mounted shifter, and steel-plated seat backs. It also has unique aluminum wheels, an anti-roll bar, and upgraded brakes. Ford claims the F-150 Police Responder has a 7,000-pound tow capacity, which is on par with the civilian FX4 after you consider the added weight police vehicles typically incur.
Ford has yet to announced when it will begin delivery of the new pickup to government agencies, but it assures us that Ne’er-do-wells won’t be safe from it on or off-road.