Growing up, I was a fan of the Law & Order franchise. A large part of its appeal to me was the fact it shot on location in New York City, making it far more visually stimulating and authentic than shows like CSI: New York (better writing helped, too). All those years of watching the various Law & Order series exposed me to the last two and a half decades of NYPD police cars.
I remember the Dodge Diplomats in the opening credits and the many years of sky blue Chevrolet Caprices. Then, the Ford Crown Victoria took over as it did in many North American police fleets once the Caprice was axed, and it felt like the Vicky was never going to go away. But then it did. All the NYPD Crown Victorias have gone now, or at least the vast majority of them have.
The NYPD’s new vehicle of choice? The Police Interceptor Utility, Ford’s special police edition of the Explorer. As you can see from the lead photo, the NYPD has gone all-in on the crossover.
Photo courtesy of André Gustavo Stumpf
In contrast, the Police Interceptor sedan – Ford’s LEO-optimized Taurus – appears to account for only a fraction of the NYPD fleet. That’s entirely understandable given the Taurus is hardly a bastion of space efficiency and trying to wedge a perp in the back of one behind the barrier may potentially be a violation of their civil rights. Beyond Ford products, which include the Fusion Hybrid cop cars common in Manhattan, the NYPD has one other car that’s quickly becoming more ubiquitous which I’ll share with you in my next outtake.
I haven’t been keeping up with the last remaining Law & Order series, Special Victims Unit (although last I saw, it had gotten surprisingly good in its old age thanks to new showrunners) so I don’t know if the show is accurately reflecting the changing NYPD fleet makeup. But it’s funny to think that the younger generation will now associate the Explorer with the NYPD instead of the Crown Victorias and Caprices of the past.