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20 July 2017

2018 Ford F-150 Police Responder Ready for Off-Road Pursuit

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“It’s got a cop motor … cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks … What do you say, is it the new Bluesmobile or what?” For men and women in blue (or green or khaki) whose jurisdiction includes some rough wilderness that might prove too much for a unibody Explorer, the answer could soon be “yes” as regards the light-bedecked F-150 SuperCrew 5.5-foot box pickup you see here. Sure, the law-enforcement fleet offerings have included F-150s (and Chevy Silverados and Ram 1500s) before, but to date none of these has been sufficiently battle-hardened to earn the “pursuit” rating. Ford claims this is the industry’s first pursuit-rated pickup.

Ford, GM, and FCA fleet all distinguish their law-enforcement offerings as either “Pursuit” or “Special Service Vehicles,” but according to officials on hand at the F-150 Police Responder’s unveiling, there is no SAE or global pursuit standard—each company devises its own development targets. Ford’s test regimen mostly involves hardening the powertrain, suspension, tires, wheels, and brakes to withstand prolonged high-speed, high-heat, severe-duty conditions.

In the case of the F-150, the basic vehicle is so rugged that the required improvements to achieve Pursuit status were minimal. The “cop suspensions and cop shocks” are pulled from the FX4 Off-Road package (which also brings skidplates and hill-descent control). From there, the front anti-roll bar is stiffened slightly, and the front and rear brakes are upgraded for fade resistance with improved friction material, new coatings for the calipers, and silicon rubber dust boots on the caliper pistons; the rotor and caliper dimensions don’t change. The cop tires are Goodyear Wranglers with DuPont Kevlar reinforcement, in size LT 275/65R18. They come wrapped around aluminum wheels because the roughly 7-inch-tall reinforced tire sidewalls are said to provide sufficient protection from wheel damage when running over curbs at speed. No steel wheel alternative will be offered.

The cop engine powering all F-150 Pursuit trucks will be the venerable 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6 good for 375 hp and 470 lb-ft. The engine internals and cooling system are unchanged; the only police upgrades are a 240-amp alternator to power all the lights and accessories, and meters to keep track of engine-on hours and engine-idle hours for maintenance purposes. That twist gets routed through Ford’s new 10-speed automatic and a two-speed four-wheel-drive transfer case. Our testing of civilian F-150s suggests that outrunning an F-150 pursuer will require a get-away vehicle capable of slightly better than 6 seconds to 60 mph and/or a top speed above 100 mph, the electronic limit for the Police Responder.

Some other superlatives Ford is claiming for the F-150 Police Responder: largest interior of any pursuit-rated vehicle (edging out Chevy’s Tahoe PPV by 6.7 cubic feet), best payload (2,000 pounds), and best towing—the standard Class IV hitch can manage 7,000 pounds. Speaking of the interior, it gets a standard column shifter to free up console space for electronics. The heavy-duty cloth seats feature backrests that are carved away to accommodate bulky equipment belts, and the front seat backs have steel reinforcements to thwart an attempted stabbing from an insufficiently frisked and/or cuffed perp in the back.

Ford claims that potential customers clamoring for a pursuit pickup include sheriff’s departments, border patrols, tribal police, and departments of natural resources in addition to state and local jurisdictions in wilderness and mountainous areas. Hence, when the F-150 Police Responder goes on sale in the spring of 2018, Ford expects significant incremental sales over and above 2016’s 43,000 law-enforcement sales—that represents 60 percent of the overall market, with Ford claiming a 70 percent share of the pursuit market. Pricing has not been released yet, but speccing a civilian F-150 like this would run about $44,440—if you could get a 3.5 EcoBoost engine with the FX4 suspension (you can’t in 2017).

So what do you say, boys and girls in blue? Would you dig this as your new bluesmobile?

 

 

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