2020 Ford Police Interceptor Utility Revealed, Previews The Next Explorer

The 2020 Ford Explorer will be unveiled on January 9th, but we’re getting an early look at the model thanks to the introduction of the 2020 Police Interceptor Utility.

Looking instantly recognizable, the redesigned crossover follows in the footsteps of its predecessor as it adopts a prominent grille which is flanked by relatively slender headlights. Further below, we can see more aggressive air intakes and a plastic lower bumper.

The pictures don’t show the rear of the crossover, but the evolutionary styling continues down the sides. As a result, there’s a familiar greenhouse and plastic body cladding. We can also see a sloping roof and pronounced taillights.

These same styling features should carryover to the 2020 Explorer, but that particular model will eschew the push bar, spot lights and emergency lights.

Ford didn’t mention performance specifications, but confirmed the PIU will be offered with three different engines including a 3.3-liter V6, a hybrid 3.3-liter V6 and a 3.0-liter EcoBoost. All will be paired to a ten-speed automatic transmission which sends power to a standard all-wheel drive system with a deep snow / sand traction mode.

The big news for 2020 is the hybrid variant and Ford says the crossover’s platform has been designed around the model’s lithium-ion battery pack. As a result, the battery doesn’t intrude into the cabin.

Ford is keeping details under wraps, but the automaker confirmed the hybrid engine will come standard and it will have an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 24 mpg combined. This is a 41 percent improvement over the previous model with the 3.7-liter V6 engine and Ford says the hybrid will save police departments between $3,500 (£2,747 / €3,071) and $5,700 (£4,473 / €5,001) annually in fuel costs.

Since the PIU has been designed for police duty, the crossover has an upgraded cooling system, specially tuned brakes and heavy-duty steel wheels which are designed to “withstand the rigors of a chase.” The model will also come equipped with a trailer tow receiver that enables the model to haul up to 5,000 lbs (2,268 kg).

The unique features continue in the cabin as the PIU has heavy-duty cloth front seats with integrated anti-stab plates. Other special touches include four user-configurable switches on the steering wheel and vinyl rear seats for easy cleaning.

Since officers face a number of life-threatening scenarios, the PIU puts safety front and center. Ford says the crossover is the only vehicle in the world engineered to meet their 75 mph (120 km/h) rear-impact crash standard. While the federal standard is only 50 mph (80 km/h), Ford believes the added protection is necessary as officers could potentially be rear-ended after pulling someone over on the highway.

The safety features extended beyond the structure as the crossover offers a Police Perimeter Alert system. It uses sensors to detect “potentially threatening behavior” and will automatically roll up the windows, lock the doors and alert officers when something is amiss.

The PIU can also be equipped with an optional Rear Camera On-Demand system that enables officers to see what’s happening behind the vehicle at any time. Police departments can also order an optional Pre-Collision Assist system with automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning and pedestrian detection technology. That’s fairly common these days, but the PIU’s system is defeatable in order to allow officers to perform PIT maneuvers.

more photos...
  • Six_Tymes

    I wish I could buy one, sans the police lights and placards

    • Salih Ahzem

      In a matter of a couple of years, you indeed can from an auction albeit with more than around 200k miles on the odometer.
      I see those old Crown Vic’s roaming quite frequently with their extra mirror on the driver’s side.

    • Matt

      Do you really want one though? You do say ‘I wish I could buy one’ on most articles here. Do you currently own a car?

  • EL CHAPO THA GREAT

    A cop car built to harass more innocent people. America’s economy is crap, so they gotta make petty laws to keep the prison business full

    • brn

      Because that’s how you stimulate the economy, fill prisons?

      • EL CHAPO THA GREAT

        Not just prison kid

  • DetrinKD

    There is no angle or perspective that the smiley connection between the grille and headlights is attractive… how was this goofy design approved?

  • Christian

    SO This is next gen Kuga for us in Europe?

    • Matt

      No, the Kuga is smaller.

    • NoMan2015

      The Kuga in the US is the Escape, not the Explorer.

  • brn

    “Ford says the crossover is the only vehicle in the world engineered to meet their 75 mph (120 km/h) rear-impact crash standard.”

    Not true. The For PI Sedan also meets the same standard.

  • MarketAndChurch

    I hope the consumer explorer has a better grille than that. That is just horrid.

    • Paul

      Almost like they are paying homage to the outgoing Fusion or something maybe.

  • ErnieB

    This does not look like an SUV to me.. looks like a station wagon.. was hoping it would look like the renders which made it look cool.. let’s hope they don’t screw up your our idea of what the Bronco is going to look like.. but I am not holding my breath..

    • brn

      Visually (I didn’t look up the specs), it’s lacking the height and the ground clearance of the outgoing Explorer. The new one may be RWD, but it does seem to be trending toward a station wagon.

      • Hot Twink

        The Police Interceptor Utility rides lower than the civilian model. The U625 Explorer will have more obstacle clearance than the current U502 Explorer, but neither were designed for rock crawling anyway.

        The U625 PI Utility is also rated to tow 5,000 lbs. The U625 Explorer is expected to be rated around 6,000 to 6,500 lbs.

  • Hot Twink

    The all-wheel drive system underneath this new Police Interceptor Utility (U625 Explorer) isn’t the same all-wheel drive system found under the outgoing Police Interceptor Utility (U502 Explorer).

    The current U502 Explorer uses a PTO and RDM. The all-wheel drive system is biased towards the front wheels.

    The new upcoming U625 Explorer will use a transfer case. The all-wheel drive system will be biased towards the rear wheels.

    U625 will have a far more superior all-wheel drive setup.

    • Pissed Canuck

      In other words, like a regular and proper SUV.

  • john1168

    NOTHING about this vehicle looks good. All the good stuff is underneath the sheet metal but it looks terrible. Especially the front. This seems like a vehicle that was designed ONLY for the service industry. NOT for regular customers like me. I’m happy that the police, fire fighters etc will have a good vehicle to use but I’m pissed that Ford apparently ignored civilians in the design. It doesn’t matter what I think though as I’m sure Ford will sell a lot of these to regular civilians. I will say good job for switching this to a RWD platform.

  • Paul

    Coming soon to your rear view mirror.

  • Pissed Canuck

    Can’t wait for these to hit the used car auctions.

  • Liam Paul

    Please for the love of God, stop making Suv’s all round and curvy, they look better boxy and tough

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