Telling The Cop Cars Apart

Ford Explore Polic Interceptor

Ford Explore Polic Interceptor photo courtesy Ford Motors

In a brilliantly written public service announcement, gives you a heads up on when to let up on the gas, and when it’s probably a soccer mom behind you.  Well done BlueSprings!

For anyone who has looked in the rearview and wondered about that Explorer behind them, the team at Blue Springs Ford Parts has created a new spotter’s guide that takes the guesswork out of separating a Ford Police Interceptor from an everyday Explorer. Drivers can now reduce that rapid shot of adrenaline, speed check and right foot ease that happens when they spot a Ford Explorer pulling up from behind. The graphic covers some quick identifiers drivers can spot when there’s only a minute to slow down.

“Who hasn’t had a moment when the left lane is wide open and you’re celebrating it with a little more pressure on the pedal and feeling good?” says Rob Wagner, parts director at Blue Springs Ford Parts. “Seeing a white or black Explorer approaching behind you is definitely a buzz kill. We wanted to find some quick ways to tell if you’re about to be pulled over. Fortunately, Ford made some updates to the 2018 Explorer that are going to help us all.”

Americans are buying SUVs in place of sedans, and city and county police departments are doing the same. Gone are the days of the long, black and white 4-door with a pronounced cherry of a siren on top. Ford retired the fleet Crown Victoria during 2011, and law enforcement agencies started to adapt and eventually embrace the new fleet Ford Interceptor Utility vehicles, designed on the Explorer’s base with a few differences. The 2018 Ford Explorer updates have not been added to the 2016+ fleet vehicles, so the differences between the two are now greater.

Here are some highlights from the graphic to help drivers spot the correct vehicle:

  • The 2018 Explorer has upside down L-shaped turn signals on the front end. The current Interceptors have C-shaped turn signals.
  • A roof rack can be identified with a quick glance. While the police vehicles have the option for a roof rack, most don’t have it. The odds are good an Explorer with the rack belongs to a private citizen.
  • The side mirrors reveal a lot of info: 2016+Iinterceptors have a row of lights at the top of the mirrors. The 2018 Explorer has lights along the bottom half of the mirror or no lights at all, depending on the trim level.
  • Most, but not all, new Explorers have a strip of chrome on the front bumper cover. All 2016+ Interceptor Utilities don’t have chrome on the bumper cover.
  • If the SUV is rolling up alongside you, check out the wheels. Interceptors have 18-inch steel wheels and seldom have plastic covers. Civilian Explorers have 18-inch or 20-inch alloy wheels.

“Of course, now you have to throw in the element of used Interceptors that are for sale to the public,” says Wagner. “All of this is just for fun. Ultimately, the best thing to do is follow the laws and keep yourself and everyone else safe.”


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About the Author: Dave Miller

Dave Miller With Lotus GT
Dave Miller drives the fastest, coolest, sexiest cars on the planet. He travels the world uncovering the hidden gems in luxury transportation, meeting the owners, and connecting with extraordinary car enthusiasts. Dave is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and writes for various publications. In addition to, you can follow Dave's adventures via Drive With Dave Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and tune into the Drive with Dave Podcast via iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.

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