Ford’s traditional, full-size, rear-wheel-drive sedan got a new frame and some major upgrades in ride, comfort, safety, and steering and handling for 2003. Other than a revised overhead console, the availability of laminated side glass and modifications to the automatic transmission’s torque converter, little is new for 2004.
The Crown Victoria is especially popular with taxicab companies and police squads. In recent years, more than 80 percent of police pursuit vehicles in the United States have been Crown Victorias. The four-door sedan also has a steady following among retail buyers and other fleet companies. Mercury offers a similar Grand Marquis sedan with additional features and a higher price.
Built on a full-perimeter frame, the Crown Victoria has variable-assist rack-and-pinion steering. The sedan earned five-star ratings for both front occupants in frontal-impact crash tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Offered in Standard, LX and LX Sport trim levels, along with an LX Premier Group option package that incorporates some of the features of the LX Sport, the Crown Victoria is manufactured in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada.
Styling features include wide door openings, wraparound aero headlights and color-keyed bodyside moldings. Riding a 114.7-inch wheelbase, the four-door sedan is 212 inches long overall and 58.3 inches tall.
Standard tires measure 16 inches in diameter, but the LX Sport sedan gets 17-inchers on aluminum wheels and a monochromatic exterior. Automatic-leveling air springs are optional.
Five or six people fit inside the Crown Victoria, and the seating capacity depends on whether a bench or bucket seats are installed in the front. Standard and LX models feature the front bench seat. An overhead console is standard in the LX and LX Sport models. The sedan’s trunk holds 20.6 cubic feet of cargo, and a trunk organizer is offered as an option.
Standard equipment includes air conditioning, cruise control, a tilt steering column, a cassette stereo, and power windows, locks and mirrors. All Crown Victorias except the base model have a door-mounted keyless-entry pad. Remote keyless entry and a CD stereo are installed in the LX sedan. The LX Sport adds a cassette/CD stereo, electronic climate control, a floor-mounted gearshift lever and a full-length center console. A SmartLock system prevents the driver’s door from locking if the key is left in the ignition.
In Standard and LX trims, the Crown Victoria’s 4.6-liter V-8 engine produces 224 horsepower and 272 pounds-feet of torque. It is connected to a four-speed-automatic transmission. Optional all-speed traction control uses the antilock braking system and throttle intervention to manage wheelspin. A more potent, 239-hp version of the V-8 features a dual exhaust system and is standard in the LX Sport.
Though Ford doesn’t sell many, the company also offers a version of the Crown Victoria that runs on natural gas. In this form, the 4.6-liter V-8 generates 180 hp and 235 pounds-feet of torque.
Dual-stage front airbags deploy according to crash severity, and a weight sensor can prevent the front passenger-side airbag from deploying if the seat is occupied by a child or unoccupied. Ford’s BeltMinder system reminds unbelted occupants to buckle up. Side-impact airbags are optional.
Antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are standard. A dual-rate brake booster applies full braking power automatically in a panic stop. LATCH child-safety seat tethers are integrated into the outboard rear seats, and all occupants have three-point seat belts.