Erik Estrada may have ridden a motorcycle during his time on “CHiPs”—a 1978 Kawasaki KZ1000C Police Special, to be specific—but today’s California Highway Patrol is a different, less-mustachioed breed of lawman. In a few years, when the venerable Crown Victoria has returned to its Great Impound Lot In The Sky, will the CHP’s pop-culture iconograpy revolve around the Ford Explorer?
“The utility is probably going to be our primary vehicle,” said Erik Knudsen, Assistant Chief of the CHP, which is planning to phase in the Ford Explorer Police Interceptor starting this fall. “We’re excited about testing it,” he said. “It’s a new generation of patrol cars for law enforcement.”
In a truly American turn of phrase, CHP officials said that the Explorer was on the agency’s shortlist because the new wave of sedans—such as the 4,015-pound, 17-foot Ford Taurus—was too small, and therefore less visible. The Taurus Police Interceptor was on the list as well, but it doesn’t have enough capacity and cannot carry as much weight. The Explorer, on the other hand, has a bigger payload for cargo (radios, guns) and can accommodate more adults (prisoners, drunks). With a 1,700 pound hauling capacity the Explorer may be far larger than the Crown Victoria—but both get similar gas mileage, with the Explorer actually beating the latter at 16 mpg city and 21 mpg highway, versus 14 and 21 for the Vic.
In addition, all-wheel drive is a big plus for the CHP: the Explorer can traverse diverse terrain, as well as being more sure-footed during bad weather.
The CHP has about 4,000 police vehicles spread across the state, and about a third are replaced every year to the tune of about $14 million. This could be a big boon for Ford, as many police agencies are still resistant to change and wary of the new cop cars. If a major law enforcement agency like the CHP decides to go with the Explorer, the move could convince smaller jurisdictions to make the jump as well.
A few years ago, the CHP had to give up its iconic Kawasaki police bikes when that company ended production after 30 years. Now that the equally iconic Crown Victoria is also dead, the push-bar equipped Explorer should be a sufficiently intimidating sight on the highways of the Golden State.
Source: Los Angeles Times