Distinctive design, a bevy of luxury doodads, a quiet yet lively 4.6-liter,290-h.p., 32-valve V-8 and a cute feature called puddle lamps make the 1998Lincoln Mark VIII appealing--until you stop at a friend's house to chauffeuranother couple to dinner.Watching back-seat riders enter the car is not pleasant. Sure, the two front seats power forward when the seat backs are reclined toallow somewhat easier access to the back, but when paying $40,000 for a car,there should be a more civilized way of getting folks in the back withoutreaching for the can of Crisco. Also, the front- and rear-seat bottoms are a bit short and don't offerenough thigh support. So if the restaurant is a lengthy trip from home, youhave hungry and ornery passengers. Two doors just don't do it unless you travel alone a lot. The 1998 Lincoln Town Car and Continental sedans are much more roomy,comfortable and technologically advanced when it comes to suspension andsteering than the Mark VIII coupe. One neat feature, however, is puddle lamps, lights under the outsidemirrors that flash on when you press the power-lock key fob. The lamps lightthe ground below the door so you don't accidentally place the wingtips orheels in snow, mud or other unpleasant matter when entering or exiting thecar. The lights also are brilliant enough to discourage the uninvited fromstrolling too close. Noteworthy features are dual air bags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes,all-speed traction control, fully independent air suspension andspeed-sensitive variable assist power steering. The Mark VIII we tested starts at $39,320. Add $1,515 for the powermoonroof, $290 for heated seats, $670 for a trunk-mounted CD changer andyou're at $41,795 and still only have two doors. Freight runs $670.
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