Ford's latest debut is one I'm not looking forward to seeing in my rearview. The automaker revealed the all-new 2021 F-150 Police Responder on Tuesday, a pursuit-rated pickup featuring modifications and improvements designed for law enforcement duty. The police truck is more spacious and capable than the model it replaces -- and faster, too, with an elevated top speed of 120 miles per hour.
Based on the recently redesigned, the F-150 Police Responder comes standard with Ford's 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, boasting the same 400 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque as the civilian model. Ford says both the twin-turbocharged motor and automatic transmission have been "uniquely calibrated" for police duty resulting in a top speed increase to 120 mph, but all of the 10-speed's ratios are the same. I'm guessing the difference probably comes down to removing a standard electronic 107-mph limiter and outfitting the Police Responder with pursuit-spec Goodyear 265/70R18 Wrangler Enforcer all-terrain tires, which are better suited than the consumer rubber for high speeds and are said to improve cornering agility without compromising off-road capability.
The Police Responder also benefits from many of the same upgrades found on the consumer-grade 2021 F-150, including the new torque-on-demand transfer case and "4-Auto" drive mode that automatically swaps between rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive automatically as needed while the officer focuses on driving the truck. The system biases toward the efficiency and improved handling of rear-drive on dry pavement, but seamlessly shifts to 4X4 in the wet, snowy or off-road conditions.
The F-150's FX4 Off-Road Package is standard equipment for the Police Responder, further boosting off-road performance with an electronic-locking rear axle, underbody skid plates, beefed up dampers and Hill Descent Control. Towing capacity is also improved, with options ranging from 7,000 pounds to 11,200 pounds -- though Ford specifically states that one should "not tow a trailer during patrol or pursuit situations."
The pickup rolls out with a selection of upgrades exclusive to police work, including a feature called Police Engine Idle that lets an officer remove the key and exit the truck, locking the doors while the engine is running to power lights and sirens. The truck will be immobilized until the key -- either a traditional key or a wireless fob -- is returned, which prevents the running vehicle from being stolen. The front seats are upholstered in heavy-duty police-grade cloth with bolsters designed to accommodate a loaded duty belt and built-in steel intrusion plates in the seatbacks. Much of the interior can be extensively customized; the front console, for example, can be deleted and replaced with a department-specific unit or an upgraded Ford Interior Work Surface that provides a flat surface for a computer or paper-based work.
The Police Responder also features similar Sync 4 and Ford Telematics cabin tech as the standard F-150 with a few tweaks for intelligent fleet management, as well as much of the same driver safety tech, including optional forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking. The police vehicle does, however, feature a law-enforcement-exclusive one-touch switch that temporarily disables all precollision intervention tech, for situations where one may need to purposely nudge (or PIT maneuver) another vehicle.
Theand are both offered with Special Service Vehicle variants, but while they are beefed up for police duty, these pickups are not specifically designed as "pursuit vehicles." Chevy does offer its in Police Pursuit Vehicle spec, topping out at 121 mph for the 4x4 model or 134 mph with 2WD, but that's an SUV not a pickup. So, Ford's claim that the F-150 Police Responder is "America's only purpose-built, pursuit-rated pickup truck" seems to hold water.
Ford is opening orders for the F-150 Police Responder to state and local governments this week with production beginning at Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Missouri in the fall.