The Chicago Police Department is one agency that has adopted the P.I. Utility. Photo: File

The Chicago Police Department is one agency that has adopted the P.I. Utility. Photo: File

The police version of Ford's Explorer SUV has become the top-selling police vehicle among the crop of law enforcement vehicles competing to fill the void left by the retirement of the Crown Vic Police Interceptor.

In 2013, Ford sold 14,086 Police Interceptor Utility SUVs, which represents a 140 percent increase from 2012. At the same time, Ford also sold 10,897 Ford Police Interceptor sedans, which are based on the Taurus. Ford increased patrol sedan sales by 31 percent during the year.

Ford's new crop of patrol vehicles faced increasing competition from General Motors' Chevrolet Caprice PPV and Chrysler's Dodge Charger Pursuit.

For the first time, Ford offered an SUV option along with its Crown Vic replacement sedan. Ford offered standard all-wheel drive, a feature later added to the Dodge Charger and Chevrolet Tahoe PPV. Ford's new police vehicles have also arrived with high-performance, efficient EcoBoost engines.

The automaker also anticipated the increasing needs of officers for additional gear with its P.I. Utility, which also carries a 75 mph rear crash test rating that provides additional safety for highway traffic stops.

"The new utility vehicle body style meets officers' growing storage needs; standard all-wheel drive for most models is an industry-first that provides greater mobility and security; plus, expanding the range of EcoBoost engines gives law enforcement agencies more options to suit their needs," said Jonathan Honeycutt, police marketing manager at Ford. "Together, these ingredients are driving sales growth and market share gains for Ford."

Police vehicles registrations saw a sharp uptick in 2013, increasing 22 percent from the prior year. Police agencies added 50,923 units into service during the calendar year.

G.M.'s Chevrolet brand saw total sales of 21,784 of its Caprice PPV, Tahoe PPV, and Impala Police. Chevrolet sold 13,629 Tahoe PPV SUVs, 4,281 Impala Police front-wheel sedans, and 3,874 Caprice PPV rear-wheel sedans.

"In 2013, the Chevrolet police portfolio had its best sales year in nearly 20 years with the Tahoe PPV achieving the best sales in the vehicle's history," said Dana Hammer, manager of law enforcement vehicles for GM Fleet and Commercial. "With the addition of the all-new 2015 Tahoe PPV, which will be available for the first time in a four-wheel drive pursuit model, we expect to continue to see strong sales."

Chrysler doesn't release sales data for specific vehicles, and declined to comment for this story.