By Jonathan Phelps
---- — ANDOVER — The future of Ford police cruisers have hit the road in this town.
Replacing the iconic Crown Victoria police car, the Police Department has purchased three 2013 Ford Police Interceptors.
The sleek new sedans have the body of a Taurus, but are not sold to the public. Everything from the engine, transmission and brakes are different from the standard Taurus, Lt. Commander James Hashem said.
“The feel is very different, it handles very well,” Hashem said. “Overall, it seems like a nice car to drive.”
Like many other departments, Andover police were forced to look into buying new cruisers after Ford discontinued the “Crown Vic” last year.
Hashem said the department looked at the Chevy Caprice and Dodge Chargers, but decided to stick with Ford. All the cruisers are maintained in-house and it made financial sense to have a fleet of all Fords, he said.
“We went out and talked to the different departments and compared,” Hashem said. “It was the best fit for us. It was the best vehicle.”
Various reports and research by the Michigan State Police were also taken into consideration, he said.
The new cruisers were purchased under an annual cycle in which the town adds two or three new cruisers to its fleet and trades old ones in, Hashem said.
The new cruisers are built to sustain a 75 mph rear-end collision and have all-wheel drive. The V6 engines are also projected to get 20 percent better fuel efficiency than the Crown Vics, according to Ford.
Hashem said the all-wheel drive will be good feature in the winter. The Crown Vics needed to have chains put on in the snow, which limited what they can do, he said.
While the new cruisers look smaller, they are actually about the same size, Hashem said. Several pieces of equipment needed to be modified to fit into the trunk because of the car's more aerodynamic shape and collision gear.
Hashem said the new cruisers have received positive feedback from the officers who have had a chance to drive them.
Safety Officer Chuck Edgerly said the last time the Crown Vics had been updated was in 1997.
'This is really like getting a new car,” he said. “The officers who have been driving them like the way they drive and the handling.”
Edgerly pointed out the larger tires and the fact the vehicles are lower to the ground.
“Sitting in them they are pretty comfortable, it is like sitting in a cockpit,” Edgerly said, pointing out the instrument panels and radio. “Like anything new there is still an adjustment.”
Several residents have been asking about the new cruisers when they see officers around town.
“Everyone is interested,” Edgerly said.
Edgerly said it will be a few years before all the old Crown Vics are phased out.