By next spring, nearly half of Portland's patrol officers will be cruising in small all-wheel-drive SUVs.
Portland police are slowly swapping out their worn-out Crown Victoria sedans for a new ride that looks like a cross between a Ford Taurus sedan and a Ford Explorer.
The bureau will ask for City Council approval Wednesday to replace 70 patrol cars with the utility version of the 2016 Ford Interceptor.
The estimated $2.3 million cost will come from the city's 2015-16 fleet vehicle budget.
"This vehicle is the only one we think can comfortably accommodate the size of officers, prisoners and all our police gear,'' said Officer Garrett Dow, who oversees police cars.
The Interceptors provide more space to store police equipment and added leg and headroom for drivers and back-seat prisoners, according to city fleet official John Hunt. They sit a bit taller than a sedan, and the all-wheel drive provides better traction and maneuverability, he said.
Sitting up higher will give officers greater visibility and help motorists to see police coming, which should improve officer safety, according to Hunt.
Portland isn't alone in transitioning its patrol cars to the Interceptors.
Seattle police, the Washington State Patrol and San Diego police, for example, use the Interceptors. Port of Portland police, Gresham police and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office also have some in their fleets.
Portland police now have a mix of older Crown Victorias , Chevy Caprices, Dodge Chargers and the Interceptors. When Ford ceased manufacturing the police Crown Victorias in 2011, the bureau turned to other models.