Photo of 2016 P.I. Utility courtesy of Ford.

Photo of 2016 P.I. Utility courtesy of Ford.

Ford is introducing an updated Police Interceptor Utility for the 2016 model year with a more rugged, truck-like look and several new features requested by its Police Advisory Board of law enforcement officers and police fleet managers.

The vehicle will debut Feb. 12 at the Chicago Auto Show near the Chicago Assembly Plant where the vehicle is built. The vehicle is the top-selling law enforcement vehicle and has been widely adopted by the Chicago Police Department among other agencies.

For the 2016-MY, the P.I. Utility receives a new front and rear design, new headlamps, a new instrument panel and an enhanced electrical system to distribute electrical loads more efficiently.

Ford also added a lift-gate release switch that's accessible to occupants in the front that allows the rear lift-gate to remain unlocked for 45 seconds to allow officers to access the cargo area.

Additional updates include a standard rear-view camera with washer that feeds images to a 4-inch screen in the center stack. Agencies can request that images from the camera show on the rear-view mirror.

Ford has carried over the engine options, including a 3.7-liter V-6 producing 304 hp and 279 lb.-ft. of torque or optional 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost that makes 365 hp and 350 lb.-ft. of torque. Ford continues to offer the optional Surveillance Mode that warns the driver when someone approaches the rear of the vehicle. The vehicle is only available in all-wheel drive.

Either engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that features a Pursuit Mode programmed for law enforcement use. The transmission automatically switches from normal, fuel-saving operation to Pursuit Mode when it detects aggressive driving situations, based on brake line pressure, deceleration and lateral acceleration rates.

Once in Pursuit Mode, the upshift and downshift performance of the transmission is optimized for aggressive driving, returning to fuel-save mode when it senses the aggressive driving is complete. The software is tuned to perform a reverse J-turn, which is when a reversing vehicle is spun 180 degrees and continues, face forward, without changing direction of travel.

Ford is offering additional options to law enforcement agencies, including Level III ballistic shields in the door panels, voice-activated SYNC hands-free system, blind-spot detection, a cross-traffic alert, and reverse sensing system.

The 2016 P.I. Utility will be available for ordering in the summer.