Even though the iconic Ford Crown Victoria P71 Police Interceptor ceased production a decade ago, Ford prides itself on continuing to serve up more vehicles than any of its competitors to those who serve and protect. To ensure continued market dominance, the Ford F-150 Police Responder pickup is getting a major freshening later this year that sharpens its focus in hopes that those suburban police departments, border patrol agents, rural sheriffs, and others in need of a truck choose the Ford over the likes of the Chevrolet Silverado SSV and Ram 1500 Classic Special Service pickups.
MOAR Power and Torque!
For 2021, the Ford F-150 Police Responder’s standard 3.5-liter “EcoBoost” V-6 engine gets a boost in power and torque of 25 hp and 30 lb-ft and powertrain calibration custom tailored to police duty. That adds to 400 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque, which out-muscles the V-8 competition by 4-45 hp and by 90-117 lb-ft of torque. Its standard 10-speed automatic trumps the Chevy by four ratios and the Ram by two. Four-wheel drive is standard on all of the police pickups. We expect the Ford to be at least 1.5 seconds quicker to 60 mph than the Chevy or Ram with a time of around 5.2 seconds. There’s also a new button that allows an officer to temporarily disable pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking to better facilitate a bump-n-spin or pit maneuver. Fun fact about why it’s called a Responder and not an Interceptor: Ford’s Police Interceptor Utility is reinforced to withstand a 75-mph rear impact, while the F-150 Police Responder merely adheres to the federal rear impact standard of 50 mph. Bottom line: check the specs on your getaway vehicle before you attempt to run if there’s a Blue Oval under that police truck’s flashing lights.
Ford’s standard four-wheel-drive system now features an automatic mode with the torque-on-demand system (normally reserved for Limited, Platinum, and Raptor trims) that involves an electrically operated clutch that engages the front axle when the rear wheels lose traction or low-friction surfaces are detected. All Police Responder models feature the FX4 Off-Road package, which includes underbody skid plates, off-road-tuned shocks, electric-locking rear axle, and hill descent control.
Off-Road Tires for Off-Tarmac Excursions
Ford’s police pickup is the only one that’s pursuit rated, and for 2021 the F-150 can stick with the fleeing suspect up to 120 mph, instead of watching them drive away above 105 mph as before. This means the Ford F-150 Police Responder requires a speed rating well above the S rating (112 mph) of the regular F-150’s standard tires, but the police truck also needs the all-terrain capability to deliver FX4-grade off-road capability. So Goodyear specially developed an LT265/70R18 Wrangler Enforcer all-terrain tire for this application. Tirerack’s only other speed-rated all-terrain tire listed in this size is the Yokohama Geolandar A/T G015, but it’s not a light-truck (LT) fitment.
Crew Cab, Short Box
Cops, like most pickup buyers, seem to prefer crew cabs, so that’s the only option offered by Chevy, Ford, and Ram. Where are you gonna put a perp’ in a SuperCab? The shortest 5.5-foot box also apparently seems to meet their needs best, so that’s all Ford offers. The Silverado can be had with a 6.5-foot bed, and the Ram’s short box can be upgraded with the brand’s RamBox storage bins.
Ford prides itself in its best-in-class capability ratings, and even the police, border patrol, and other authorities occasionally need to haul all-terrain vehicles or tow a boat, horse trailer, or mobile command center. So it can haul a total of 2,030 pounds of stuff . The base F-150 Police Responder can tow 7,000 pounds, too, and an optional towing package takes that up to 11,200 pounds max. Okay, that payload’s down 20 pounds from the Chevy rating, but the Ford out-tows the Chevy by 1,700 pounds and bests the Ram by 470 pounds in payload and 940 pounds in towing capacities.
And Ford makes its many towing assist functions available, too, including its Pro Trailer Backup Assist and the Tow Technology package (a 360-degree camera, Trailer Reverse Guidance, and an integrated Trailer Brake Controller). Ford’s Smart Trailer Tow Connector comes standard with the Class IV hitch and helps the blind-spot monitor account for the trailer.
Interior Tailored for Utility Belts
The cloth seats still included steel anti-stab protection and side bolsters carved away to comfortably accommodate officers wearing a duty belt. The standard configuration is still a pair of buckets with no center console, but the new interior upgrade option adds a factory-installed center console and provides an adjustable flat surface for writing or computer work. The same universal top tray on the dash supports mounting forward-facing cameras and other powered devices. Sync 4 is new for 2021 with cloud connectivity. The system includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen in the center stack and an embedded modem with wireless software updates. An upgraded 4.0-inch productivity screen in the instrument cluster comes standard.
Police Engine Idle
This new feature lets an officer remove the key from the ignition with the engine running and exit the truck with the steering and transmission selector remaining locked. Officers can continue to power lights and sirens without the worry of vehicle theft. Speaking of ignition keys, agencies can choose from up to four traditional fleet keys or fobs with keyless entry per truck. Pro Power (onboard high-amperage 110V power) is not offered on the Police Responder.
Ford will only say that “Price may vary based on government bidding structures, so we do not list MSRP for this audience.” An F-150 SuperCrew 4×4 FX4 in the base XL trim starts at $45,625, so we’re guessing a fleet price of around $44,000 for this truck. Order banks open on March 17. The Ford F-150 Police Responder will be assembled at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri, in time to arrive in fleets later this fall as a 2021 model.
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