New Ford police Interceptor Utility harder to spot than ever

Depending on your perspective, headliner lightbars on the 2017 Ford Interceptor Utility police SUVs could be a good thing or, on the other hand, a bit off-putting. You might as well start assuming any newer black-on-black Ford Explorer is an unmarked vehicle. When there are no department decals, big spotlights, extra antennae, or even traditional lightbars, it becomes even harder than ever to spot cop cars.

Some prior model police SUVs and sedans use aftermarket interior lightbars that clip to the window visors but often restrict driver visibility and headroom. In the Wilmington, North Carolina area (where I happen to live), black and grey plain body Mustangs, Camaros, Chargers, Suburbans, Expeditions, and Explorers with no exterior markings or lights are common sights on certain speed-sensitive roads. These vehicles can belong to the local police department, county sheriff’s office, or state police troop. The new Interceptor lights are built into the headliner right at the point where it meets the windshield so they are not as bulky as aftermarket add-ons.

Related: Ford’s Chicago-built 2016 Interceptor Utility comes equipped for the pursuit

Ford Interceptors have been a police department standard for decades, but the full-size, rear wheel drive Crown Victoria sedan is no longer in production. The last Crown Vic Interceptors, the version restricted for sale to law enforcement organizations, were built at the end of 2011 and sold as 2012 models.

If you were driving in the U.S. between 1992 and 2012, it’s likely the distinctive shape of a Crown Vic was implanted in your subconscious. We remember stories about people buying Crown Victorias and lookalike Mercury Grand Marquis sedans not just because they wanted large vehicles, but also because they liked the way traffic seemed to magically open up for them when they were cruising down the highway.

The police issue Interceptors back in the day were not the standard soft-riding Crown Vics. So too are the current rugged Interceptor Sedan (based on the Taurus) and Utility models, which have heavy duty suspensions, brakes, batteries, cooling systems, performance and durability features inside and out. Police can even order ballistic doors to go along with their new hidden lightbars.

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