Photo: Ford Motor Co.
Ford F150 Police Truck Lights 031721

Ford reveals versatile 2021 F-150 Police Responder

March 17, 2021
Feature loaded yet upfit flexible, the all-new pursuit-rated pickup gets upgrades for high performance on- and off-road.

The all-new 2021 F-150 Police Responder may not be all things to all law enforcement personnel—but Ford is giving America’s only purpose-built, pursuit-rated pickup truck its best shot. Unveiled Tuesday, the government order bank is now open for the factory-loaded but upfit-flexible unit.

Introduced in 2017 as a unique all-terrain law enforcement tool, F-150 Police Responder is built on the 2021 F-150 SuperCrew platform and engineered to meet a wide range of agency needs—from allowing officers to travel with more emergency response gear to transporting mobile command centers. The truck continues to deliver greater towing capacity, payload capacity and interior passenger volume than any other pursuit-rated police vehicle, and for 2021 adds even more capability, according to Ford.

“Law enforcement agencies told us they would love to add F-150 Police Responder towing, hauling and off-road performance to their fleets, but they need more confidence in speed and handling,” Greg Ebel, Ford police vehicle brand manager, said. “Whether suburban police departments, border patrol agents or rural sheriffs, officers never know where the job might take them, but the all-new F-150 Police Responder provides a pickup truck option engineered to get them there faster and with greater agility than ever before.”

Indeed, during the online reveal, law enforcement representatives praised the vehicle’s capabilities.

“I would absolutely recommend the F-150 Police Responder to any agency that's looking for it, particularly those with diverse terrain that they would need to cover,” Lt. Craig McDonald, Riverside Co. (Calif.) Sheriff’s Dept., said. “We have very large urban areas that we’re responsible for patrolling as well. The F-150 Police Responder has the ability to traverse not only those city streets but then head up the hill to the to the snowed-in mountain roads as well.”

Deputy Eric Villarreal of the Austin Co. (Texas) Sheriff’s Office agreed.

“I've driven numerous types of police vehicles, and I have been in multiple high-intensity situations,” Villarreal said. “I can tell you right now that nothing compares to the Ford F-150 Police Responder as far as dependability, comfort, and just the ability to do the job in tough environments. I’ve been in pursuits with other vehicles, I've been in pursuit with this Responder, and I would take this Responder over those other vehicles any day. It gets the job done.”

Improved performance

F-150 Police Responder pickup’s standard 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine produces 400 horsepower, and its 500 lb.-ft. of torque tops all pursuit-rated police vehicles. The engine is paired with a 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission—both uniquely calibrated to meet rigorous law enforcement use while enabling speeds significantly higher than a stock F-150, Ford notes.

To help reach—and withstand—those high speeds, the vehicle rides on specially developed Goodyear LT265/70R18 LRC BSW Wrangler Enforcer all-terrain tires. As the only all-terrain tires available on a pursuit-rated police vehicle, they’re uniquely designed to handle fast acceleration, high speeds and aggressive cornering on paved roads, and can endure the heat generated in pursuits without sacrificing the off-road capability Police Responder drivers have come to expect.

A new torque-on-demand transfer case includes 4-Auto mode, with an electrically actuated clutch that automatically adjusts torque as needed to provide exceptional “set it and forget it” capability for seamless terrain transition. On high-friction surfaces such as dry pavement, the system runs in two-wheel drive for maximum performance and improved handling around corners, avoiding the “crow-hopping” that commonly slows a four-wheel-drive vehicle. If a pursuit shifts to slick or loose surfaces, the 4-Auto system simultaneously directs power to all four wheels, allowing officers to remain focused on the job at hand.

“4-Auto mode bridges the gap between 2-High and 4-High, and you see performance improvements as a result,” said Allen Magolan, Ford police vehicles integration manager. “On dry pavement is where you see the real payoff, because it allows you to carry more speed when cornering—a rare benefit in a pickup truck.”

The torque-on-demand system couples with the standard F-150 FX4 Off-Road Package to give officers outstanding off-road capability. The FX4 package includes underbody skid plates, off-road-tuned shocks, electronic-locking rear axle and Hill Descent Control to help maintain speed while driving down an incline.

Towing capability

For departments that need to tow a boat, horse trailer, mobile command center or other equipment, F-150 Police Responder tops all other pursuit-rated vehicles with a standard towing capacity of 7,000 pounds and available towing capacity of 11,200 pounds, in addition to its payload capacity of 2,030 pounds.

An available Trailer Tow Package adds the convenience of Pro Trailer Backup Assist. The available Tow Technology Package adds a 360-degree camera, Trailer Reverse Guidance and integrated Trailer Brake Controller. Smart Trailer Tow Connector is standard on Class IV hitch-equipped vehicles and adds Trailer Coverage to the available Blind Spot Information System.

Interior advantages

Among law enforcement vehicles, F-150 Police Responder boasts more interior passenger volume and more head, hip and shoulder room than any other pursuit-rated offering. Front seat bolsters are sized to make it easier for an officer wearing a duty belt to enter or exit the vehicle, while enhancing comfort over the course of an eight-hour shift.

Upfitting is made easy with features such as a front console-delete, universal top tray on the instrument panel and rear power lug. The 40-blank-40 front seat configuration lets agencies install their own department-specific center console. A new factory-installed center console is available as part of the Interior Upgrade Package, as is a new Interior Work Surface that provides an adjustable flat surface for writing or computer work.

The updated darker-colored interior, including police-grade heavy-duty cloth front seats, was influenced by officer input. It features built-in steel intrusion plates in both front seatbacks for officer safety, as well as red-and-white task lighting. LED police warning beacons are available pre-installed in red and blue, amber, or amber and white.

Smart tech

Available new Police Engine Idle lets an officer remove the key from the ignition and securely exit the truck with the engine running. Officers can continue to power lights and sirens without worry of vehicle theft. Agencies can choose the type of keys to operate their trucks—up to four traditional fleet keys per truck or up to four available fobs with keyless entry per truck.

SYNC 4 with cloud connectivity is standard. The system includes an 8-inch touch screen in the center stack and an embedded modem with wireless updates, allowing agencies to receive software updates and potentially avoid unplanned service or maintenance. An upgraded 4-inch productivity screen in the instrument cluster is standard.

Like all Ford commercial vehicles, F-150 Police Responder offers available Ford Telematics—an intelligent fleet management tool that can help improve uptime, optimize running costs, enable predictive planning of unscheduled maintenance and improve driver behavior over time.

New driver-assist features include a standard Reverse Sensing System, which provides an audible alert if the vehicle approaches an object while backing up. Available Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection that includes Forward Collision Warning and Automatic Emergency Braking now comes with a unique one-touch temporary disable switch exclusively for law enforcement. Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert is available.

F-150 Police Responder is assembled at Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Mo., and arrives in fleets later this fall.

About the Author

Kevin Jones | Editor

Kevin has served as editor-in-chief of Trailer/Body Builders magazine since 2017—just the third editor in the magazine’s 60 years. He is also editorial director for Endeavor Business Media’s Commercial Vehicle group, which includes FleetOwner, Bulk Transporter, Refrigerated Transporter, American Trucker, and Fleet Maintenance magazines and websites.

Working from Little Rock, Kevin has covered trucking and manufacturing for 15 years. His writing and commentary about the trucking industry and, previously, business and government, has been recognized with numerous state, regional, and national journalism awards.

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