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Expert Reviews 1 of 2
By Jim Flammang
March 4, 2002
Vehicle Overview Several interior improvements mark this years traditional full-size rear-drive sedan from Ford. A new storage system can be used to compartmentalize the sedans trunk, and the front cupholder has been improved. In addition, heated mirrors are now standard. Ford has dropped the base LX sedan but now offers LX Deluxe, Premium and Sport models.
The majority of Crown Victorias have been going to police and taxicab fleets. Mercurys Grand Marquis is similar, but far more of those are bought at retail. A Police Package is available for the Crown Vic, and a new 6-inch stretched version with an extra 7.7 cubic feet of passenger space should interest taxi fleets.
A corporate near-twin to the Grand Marquis, the Crown Victoria is a traditional rear-drive family sedan with a big V-8 engine and separate body-and-frame construction. Essentially the same rear-drive platform is used for the Lincoln Town Car, which has different styling and larger dimensions. The basic body-on-chassis design has been around for a long time and dates back to the 1979 Ford LTD. Restyled versions of both the Crown Vic and Grand Marquis are expected soon.
Exterior The conservatively tailored Crown Victoria is mounted on a 114.7-inch wheelbase and stretches to 212 inches long overall, which is a foot longer than Buicks front-drive LeSabre the most popular full-size model on the market. Though Mercurys model is closely related to the Crown Vic in both styling and function, the Grand Marquis has a different grille, taillights and exterior trim. Both vehicles measure 78.2 inches wide and stand 56.8 inches tall.
Standard equipment on the new Sport model includes revised suspension components, 17-inch tires on five-spoke alloy wheels and a rear air suspension. The Sports monochromatic exterior includes a body-colored grille and bumpers.
Interior With bench seats in both the front and back, the standard Crown Victoria carries six passengers. The front seat is a split bench with a folding armrest. Middle occupants on either seat must straddle a tall driveshaft tunnel, and passengers in these two positions dont get the same cushiony seating as outboard occupants. Optional power-adjustable pedals have a 3-inch range.
Tall, wide doors permit easy entry and exit. Steering-wheel audio and climate controls are standard in the five-passenger Sport sedans, which have a floor-mounted gearshift instead of the usual column lever. The Crown Vics cargo volume is a cavernous 20.6 cubic feet, but much of that trunk space is actually within a deep well thats awkward to reach.
Under the Hood In its standard form, the 4.6-liter V-8 engine produces 220 horsepower. An optional handling package includes not only a firmer suspension and touring tires, but also a dual exhaust system that boosts engine output to 235 hp. Both engines team with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Safety Dual-stage front airbags deploy at one of two inflation levels based on crash severity, the position of the seat and whether seat belts are buckled. Side-impact airbags are not available, but antilock brakes and traction control are optional. Headlights switch on automatically when the windshield wipers are activated.
Driving Impressions For shoppers who grew up with large rear-drive cars and like the luxury of a truly expansive interior, the Crown Victoria has an appeal that modern front-drive sedans cannot match. Several full-size front-drive sedans offer as much space and feature more contemporary styling. They also deliver comparable performance with more economical V-6 engines.
Why, then, would anyone buy a Crown Vic or the similar Grand Marquis? What Ford offers is familiarity. These traditional rear-drive sedans are a practical and capable alternative and are priced lower than some front-drive rivals. Like other rear-drive models, the Crown Vic can grow treacherous on slippery winter pavement, and a traction-control system is no match for front-wheel drive.