For the past 15 years, Ford has dominated the police cruiser market with its Crown Victoria. Today in Las Vegas, it provided a first look at the car destined to replace that venerable but geriatric sedan starting in late 2011 when Crown Vic production ends. Based on an extensively modified version of its current Taurus, the 2012 Ford Police Interceptor has been engineered to exceed the safety, performance and fuel economy of the Crown Victoria. Ford used input from its Police Advisory Board of law enforcement professionals to fine tune this new package -- as well as that of a second, pursuit-rated Police Interceptor utility vehicle, which it plans to present at a later date.

Motivation for the 2012 Ford Police Interceptor will come from a pair of 3.5-liter V6 engines. The naturally-aspirated, E85-compatible base version will make "at least" 263 horsepower and get 25 percent better fuel economy than the 4.6-liter V8 in the current Crown Vic. A Taurus SHO-spec, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost six that makes "at least" 365 horses and 350 lb.-ft. of torque will be optional. While both engines will be backed by a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, choosing the more potent V6 will change the Interceptor's configuration from front to all-wheel drive.

Inside, the 2012 Ford Police Interceptor gets a full -- and fully focused --remake to accommodate both people and specialized equipment. Ford says that over 90 percent of the elements have been specifically optimized to meet police duties. In addition to a revised dash and front buckets that feature more utility-belt friendly bolsters as well as anti-stab plates in their seatbacks, the Police Interceptor also has a column-mounted shift lever to allow for better utilization of the center console area.

In keeping with its safety foremost philosophy, the 2010 Ford Police Interceptor boasts a full complement of the automaker's current protection systems, from AdvanceTrac ESC, and Blind Spot Information System to its Safety Canopy side-curtain rollover protection airbags, rear-view camera and Cross-Traffic Alert as well as SYNC. Unseen but equally critical, the entire Taurus structure has been suitably reinforced not only to ensure it met the additional durability demands of a cop cruiser but also to have it survive a 75-mph rear impact -- which, according to Ford, makes it the first police vehicle to meet that demanding standard.

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