Police cruisers have come a long way since the black and white Crown Vics just a decade ago. Rather than just sedans, law enforcement fleets have been filling their automotive ranks with SUVs and crossovers for more rugged duties. But since it's the modern age of improved efficiency, gas mileage is also a new and significant consideration for police forces across the country. Recently, we experienced the brand new 2020 Ford Police Interceptor Utility on a closed course to learn about the all-new hybrid model.

Ford police interceptor front
The most ideal way to experience a law enforcement vehicle is in the driver's seat.

 After a walk-around and a look inside of the Ford Police Interceptor Utility Hybrid, we heard a presentation from the Ford team about the new upgrades for 2020. Once we were up to speed on all the safety, efficiency and performance features, we took to the course to test drive the three available models of the Police Interceptor Utility (3.3L V6 Hybrid, 3.0L EcoBoost V6, and 3.3L V6 gas) alongside other media, police officers and agency personnel. Here's how Ford is aiming to keep officers safe while saving agencies thousands of dollars in fuel costs.

Safety Upgrades

Ballistic door panel
Level 4 ballistic door panels are an available option in the 2020 Police Interceptor Utility.

Despite all of the buzz around the fuel savings of the new Police Interceptor Utility Hybrid model, the priority for most agencies choosing the right vehicle for their fleet is, first and foremost, safety. Ford's focus on safety for the Police Interceptor is witnessed in the interior features designed specifically around the needs of an officer. Available Level-4 ballistic door panels and anti-stab plates in the seatbacks protect the driver in the most dangerous circumstances.

When the threat to an officer comes from other vehicles on the road, Ford's standard Personal Safety System is built around protecting the driver and his or her passenger. This system includes sensors that control the operation of the vehicle’s airbags and front safety belts. For example, the smart tech is able to assess the size of the occupant in the passenger seat to determine what airbags to deploy during a collision. Sensors are also programmed specifically to distinguish between rounds being fired and a collision, to prevent airbags deploying during a firefight.

Fuel Cost Savings 

2020 Police Interceptor Back
The 3.3L hybrid engine is standard for the 2020 Ford Police Interceptor Utility. 

The addition of the Hybrid model to the 2020 Ford Police Interceptor lineup is part of Ford's long-term electrification strategy. Ford's team let us know the automaker has committed to investing $11 billion into EVs by 2022 and plans to launch 40 new electric vehicles in that timeframe. The standard engine for the 2020 Police Interceptor Utility is the 3.3L hybrid and agencies can get a credit if they opt for the 3.3L V6 gas. 

Why did Ford choose to make the new hybrid the standard powertrain in the Police Interceptor? Greg Ebel, Ford's Assistant Brand Manager of Police Vehicle Marketing, let us know that hybrid powertrains provide the perfect solution for the idle engine time that comes with the nature of an officer's day-to-day job. The hybrid is estimated to save 933 gallons of gas per year, per vehicle in idle. Even with the gas engine shut off, the lithium-ion hybrid battery is still able to power all the equipment inside the vehicle. 

Ford Police Interceptor Utility
The plethora of electrical equipment can continue to run with the battery alone. 

Total Cost Savings

Ford estimates that one Police Interceptor Utility Hybrid vehicle driven 20,000 miles per year at the projected 24 MPG rating will consume 833 gallons of gas per year. Compared to the 3.7L gas model which consumes 1,176 gallons of gas for the same number of miles driven, the hybrid will save 343 gallons of gas per year per vehicle. Additionally, Ford predicts 933 gallons of gas will be saved during idling time.

For just one vehicle, the combined driving and idle gas savings have the potential to reduce costs by $3,509 per year. When we put these saving on the larger scale of an agency fleet, the potential multiplies. With gas at $3 per gallon, an agency has the potential to save nearly $23,000 over the course of 6 years.

Class-Leading Performance

Ford Police Interceptor Course
We put the 2020 Ford Police Interceptor Utility to the ultimate test.

The strong performance specs of the 2020 Ford Police Interceptor Utility set it up to maintain its top spot as the best-selling law enforcement vehicle. Ford has added $2,000 worth of additional standard features and boosted horsepower, torque, acceleration, and the top speed. All models include Ford's full-time intelligent all-wheel drive for stability and traction in all weather conditions, and the 3.3 L V6 Hybrid engine comes standard for optimal fuel economy.  

Ford set up a closed course for us to test drive the three Police Interceptor Utility models including the 3.3L V6 Hybrid (318 total combined system net horsepower), 3.0L EcoBoost V6 (400 horsepower), and 3.3L V6 gas (285 horsepower). We anticipated the EcoBoost V6 would be the most capable on our course and we were correct in that assumption as far as power is concerned.

Ford Police Interceptor Hybrid

What surprised us was how well the new Hybrid model performed even with less overall horsepower than the EcoBoost V6. As we pushed the throttle for the straightaways, the Hybrid was able to accelerate quickly and keep stability in the sharp turns of our course. Although we didn't push it to its top speed (we were surrounded by cops, remember?) the Police Interceptor Utility Hybrid has the highest top speed of 137 mph, the best 0-60 time, and the fastest lap times among competitors making it a capable pursuit vehicle. 

The new 2020 Ford Police Interceptor Utility is a true 'U.S. born and raised' vehicle, engineered in Dearborn, Michigan and assembled in Ford's Chicago, Illinois factory. Ford is currently taking orders for the three models of the Police Interceptor Utility and the SUV is expected to be in the hands of agencies starting this summer.