Ford debuts first pursuit-rated F-150 police pickup

Ian Thibodeau, The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. is rolling out the industry’s first pursuit-rated pickup for police.

The 2018 F-150 Police Responder, expected on the road by next 2018, adds off-road capability and more utility to Ford’s lineup of police vehicles.

There’s demand across the country for a bigger, more capable police vehicle, according to Stephen Tyler, Ford’s police brand marketing manager. Agencies like the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, sheriff’s departments and tribal police told Ford they needed off-road ready vehicles.

Michele Bartlett, Ford's general manager of comerical and government fleet sales, introduce the new F-150 Police responder.

The F-150 didn’t need a lot of work to make it ready for law enforcement, Tyler said, but the vehicle underwent some changes inside and out.

It’s based on the F-150 FX4 off-road model, and comes standard with that model’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 and a 10-speed transmission. The engine cranks out 375-horsepower and 470 pound feet of torque, which Ford says is more than any pursuit-rated police vehicle.

The Police Responder gets stronger brakes, an upgraded front-stabilizer bar for better handling, 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, and underbody skid plates.

The pickup is made on the four-door F-150 SuperCrew body. With the largest passenger volume among police vehicles, there’s plenty of room in the back seat. Ford moved the shifter out of the center console to the steering column to free up space for after-market additions between the front seats, which are tweaked to give officers better shoulder and hip room.

The truck also has a high-output alternator to support the electrical components police need on-board.

All of this extra stuff added weight to the truck, but Ford says that doesn’t slow it down too much: The Police Responder can reach speeds of 100 mph, 5-mph slower than the base 2018 F-150’s top speed. Clearly, the truck is aimed at off-road work.

Side profile of the new F-150 police responder. Ford reveals the industry's first police pursuit pickup, the F-150 police responder, at the Belt in downtown Detroit.

With the addition of the truck, Ford has eight law enforcement vehicles. Including the F-150, four of those vehicles are pursuit-rated.

Ford will begin filling orders for the new vehicle later this year, and expects to have the F-150s on the road by next spring.

The company’s Police Interceptor Utility, built on the Explorer frame, is the best-selling police vehicle in the country, making up over 50 percent of Ford’s sales to law enforcement. The new pickup aims to meet market demand for an off-road capable vehicle.

The front griile of the new F-150 police responder.

The pickup builds on a growing trend away from comparatively confining police cars.

“We anticipate we’ll see this in urban areas as well as rural areas,” Tyler said. “Police wear a lot of gear, and they carry a lot of gear. As they carry more stuff, what we’ve found is our Police Interceptor Utility accommodates those needs, and what we’re going to see with this is this has even more space and will accommodate even better.”

Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau