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The Most Popular Police Car Is...

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author photo by Doug DeMuro November 2016

Do you remember when every police department used the Ford Crown Victoria as its police car of choice? Back then, it didn't matter where you went, throughout the U.S. or Canada: If you ran afoul of the law, you'd get pulled over by a Ford Crown Victoria. You'd ride in back of a Ford Crown Victoria. You'd hide your head from the media as you got out of the back of a Ford Crown Victoria. Well, those days are long gone: The Crown Victoria is canceled, and the most popular police car is no longer even a car.

That's right: Although the Ford Crown Victoria has been replaced with a seemingly endless stream of police-car options -- the Dodge Charger, the Chevy Caprice, the Ford Taurus, the Chevy Impala -- the most popular police vehicle isn't a car at all: It's the Ford Explorer. Or, to put it into correct Ford language, the "Ford Police Interceptor Utility."

Although I don't have data on exactly how many Police Interceptor Utility models are sold compared to rivals, USA Today reported its status as the most popular police car in 2014 -- and police website APBWeb reported the same thing last year. In fact, says APBWeb, Ford owns an impressive 61 percent of the police-vehicle market share when you combine the Explorer and the Taurus -- an impressive number, especially considering the naysayers who insisted Ford would lose out on the police market with the cancellation of the Crown Victoria.

A more pressing question for automotive enthusiasts: Which engine are police departments choosing? Although just about any powertrain is a step up over the Crown Victoria's old, inefficient 4.6-liter V8, departments have two choices when they get an Explorer: a regular ol' 304-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, or a monstrous 365-hp 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 -- the same engine that brings the Explorer Sport civilian model from zero to 60 in 5.7 seconds.

An EcoBoost Explorer that does zero to 60 in under six seconds? Now that's a cool police car.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
The Most Popular Police Car Is... - Autotrader