Ford has released the new Police Responder version of its ever-popular F-150 pickup. Intended for government use and timed ahead of the spring bid, the automaker is clearly hoping it’s something law enforcement will be interested in since it should be an ideal pick for rural police departments, government agencies concerned with wildlife/nature, and border control operations.
The manufacturer already sells the F-150 SSV (special service vehicle), making the Police Responder sort of a deluxe version. It comes with upgraded skid plates, Goodyear Wrangler Enforcer all-terrain tires, an electronic rear differential (found in the FX4 Off-Road bundle), and a new torque-on-demand transfer case that automatically swaps between rear- and four-wheel drive depending upon terrain. It also comes standard with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6’s 400 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque, 10-speed automatic, and a higher top speed, which Ford says makes the Responder pickup “pursuit rated.” But it’s a term we’ve grown skeptical of ever since the automaker applied it to the Police Responder Hybrid Sedan and F-Series Police Responder from the 2018 model year.
Our beef was that such designations had historically hinged on the testing provided by the Michigan State Police’s (MSP) Precision Driving Unit. But Ford had started calling vehicles “pursuit rated” before they had been assessed after taking a beating on Grattan Raceway by cops who had devoted themselves to becoming absolute legends behind the wheel. Vehicles also didn’t appear to meet the purchasing specifications outlined by the MSP and Los Angeles County Sheriff, both of which require pursuit automobiles to be capable of at least 120 miles an hour.
But F-150 Police Responder is supposed to reach the 120 mph benchmark by the skin of its teeth in what’s clearly an effort to adhere to the existing standards. While that makes it an unlikely candidate for taking down built highway monsters and crotch rockets, it should be more than sufficient for regular duty and provides favorable optics for the manufacturer by meeting those minimum standards on an all-terrain vehicle.
As you might imagine, Ford is offering loads of customization for departments and has added the kind of features that appeal to law enforcement to make this more than your average F-Series. The “Police Idle” feature allows drivers to get out of the truck, taking the key with them, without the engine shutting off. This allows officers to continue running lights or sirens without depleting the battery and lets the car idle without someone driving away with it. Meanwhile, the dashboard takes on a decidedly utilitarian format ideal for departments who want to install their own accessories (emergency lights, radio equipment, etc).
The 2021 F-150 Police Responder also receives a standard integrated modem providing access to Ford Telematics — something the automaker pioneered with law enforcement and is now being made ubiquitous among its fleet vehicles. The system tracks car locations and current status while calculating uptime, operating costs, and a slew of other data points about where and how the truck is being driven. Odds are good that Ford is scraping data regardless, provided the modem is activated. However, departments will need to pay a subscription to have access to Ford Data Services.
SYNC 4 is standard, meaning over-the-air updates, and Ford has seen fit to offer blind-spot monitoring (with cross-traffic alerts) and a 360-degree towing camera (with trailer backup assist) as options. Factory color options should suit just about every department (including fire departments) that isn’t using Buford T. Justice beige and brown.
[Images: Ford Motor Co.]