Twenty years can be a really long time in terms of automotive engineering. When the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor first rolled off the line in 1992, it was fitted with a 4.6-liter V8. And the CVPI has kept that same engine through its long service history. You couldn't buy a CVPI with a V6. But next year the CVPI will be replaced by Ford's 2012 Next Generation Police Interceptor, which is V6 only.
Ford's EcoBoost engine, seen below, comes as an option for the Next Generation Police Interceptor as well as the Utility.
The new Ford comes in two configurations: a 3.5-liter V6 base model available in front-wheel or all-wheel drive and an AWD 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 model.
Ford has dominated the Police patrol car market for more than a decade, and its new V6 squad represents quite a gamble. Fleet managers and auto writers are wondering: Will agencies go for front-wheel drive? Will they pay more for AWD? Will they buy into Ford's high-performance V6 concept?
The answers won't be known until next year. But one thing we do know at this point is that even the basic powertrain in the new Ford Interceptor offers plenty of power.
Ford says the 3.5-liter base V6 produces more than 280 horses at 6,250 RPM. That's at least 30 more ponies than the 2011 CVPI from an engine that burns a lot less fuel.
The power and the fuel efficiency of the Interceptor's base V6 is a product of high technology. For example, Ford has paired multi-valve dual overhead cam engineering with computer controlled twin independent variable cam shaft timing (Ti-VCT).
Brett Hinds, Ford's advanced engineering design manager, explains that the Ti-VCT feature allows the engine to respond to the driver's need for performance or for torque, according to commands from the car's computer.
"When you're sitting at idle in your patrol car, then you want really good fuel economy. So Ti-VCT phases the cams to a good fuel economy position," Hinds says. "Now let's say you get a call and you have to go off fast. Then it's time to use the full 280 horsepower. What happens then is Ti-VCT automatically changes the cam shaft timing for maximum performance."
In addition to Ti-VCT and dual overhead cams there are many other performance and efficiency features on the Interceptor's base V6. Hinds points to the car's tuned intake manifolds, which force extra air into the cylinder when needed. The spark system is also optimized for maximum efficiency on regular fuel. And the cooling system has been designed to prevent the engine from being knock-limited.
Hinds and other Ford engineers can talk about the base 3.5-liter Interceptor engine for hours. But what people really want to talk about is the EcoBoost.
Instead of a V8 in its top of the line patrol car, Ford opted for a turbocharged, direct injection 3.5-liter V6. Branded the EcoBoost, this engine may be small but it packs 365 horses at 5,500 RPM and 350 foot-pounds of torque over a tachometer range that begins at 1,500 RPM and rises to 5,250 RPM. The result is a V6 that can compete in power with a V8.
The Next Generation Interceptor was unofficially tested at the 2011 MSP evaluations; it's a 2012 model. But the scores were still impressive. Top speed maxed at 131 mph with limiters. More impressively, the EcoBoost AWD model accelerated from 0-100 mph in 15.3 seconds.
With its turbos and direct injection, the EcoBoost is a gasoline engine sporting diesel engine technology. Hinds says the turbos and DI "actually help each other out in producing power and efficiency. The sum is greater than the parts. It's like one plus one doesn't equal two; it equals something like 2.2."
Ford hasn't produced a gasoline-powered car with turbos since 1988. But Hinds says the company did not re-enter the turbocharged car market lightly. "We didn't just bolt turbochargers onto the base engine," he says. "It was engineered for it and we made upgrades along the way."
Hinds adds that the turbos on the EcoBoost-powered Interceptor do not suffer from turbo lag. "These are relatively small turbochargers-about the size of a softball," he explains. "And with direct injection and these turbochargers, you get virtually no turbo lag."
Turbos have long been a failure point on some very expensive cars, but Ford says the EcoBoost is rated for 10 years or 150,000 even for heavy police duty. "The EcoBoost was required to pass all Ford durability tests at peak horsepower and peak torque," Hinds says, adding that the turbochargers on the EcoBoost benefit from water cooling and a lubrication system that was engineered specifically for making the turbos durable.
Of course the turbochargers are only part of the power equation for the EcoBoost. The real star of this show is direct injection. In a direct injection engine, fuel is sprayed directly into the combustion chamber as opposed to spraying it into the intake manifold. The result is both better gas mileage and some serious power.
"Ford's EcoBoost is the only twin-turbocharged, direct injection gasoline engine in the world. And in the Interceptor we match it with a six-speed, police-tuned automatic transmission for a world-class powertrain," Hinds says.