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.