1998 Lincoln Town Car

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1998 Lincoln Town Car
Available in 3 styles:  Town Car 4dr Sedan Executive shown
Asking Price Range
Estimated MPG

17 city / 24 hwy

Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 1 of 7
1998 Lincoln Town Car 4.7 11
$ 347-8,575
May 14, 1998
It was late when I climbed aboard the Lincoln Town Car, tired and gloomily anticipating a 130-mile solo drive back to Phoenix.

I stretched out in the leather seat, cued up a CD and wheeled the massive white cruiser out of the parking lot.

Now, I have to admit, I'm not a fan of these big luxo-barges. They seem anachronistic, wasteful and somehow indecent.

But the new Town Car is a heckuva lot sleeker and drives a whole lot better than the previous generation. No longer is it so squared off, or burdened with a pretentious formal roof line or velvet boudoir interior.

And no longer does it drive like the Queen Mary. Though hardly what you'd call sporting, this "full-size luxury car" now rides on a suspension that's much better controlled, still soft, but less likely to heave and sway.

The steering's quicker, the brakes are better, and the whole package feels tighter and better put together.

The first part of my trip was mostly over a desert road, straight as an arrow, but with deep undulations through the washes. The 2-ton Town Car rushed quietly through the darkness, unfazed by road irregularities or the sudden drops and rises.

I felt snug and secure on my leather throne, with plenty of headroom, shoulder room and, most importantly, legroom for my lanky self. The driver's seat is soft and not real supportive on turns, but as comfortable as an easy chair. The split-bench front seats are a lot better than those ersatz living-room sofas from the old Town Cars.

One of the top draws of this big craft is the space within. The new version has an impressive level of comfort for six, with a back seat styled for a busy executive being chauffeured to the next board meeting.

Once the American driving landscape was loaded with full-size, rear-wheel-drive cars. But now, the Town Car and its corporate siblings, Ford Crown Victoria and Lincoln Grand Marquis, are the last of the breed body-on-frame construction, live rear axle, the way we used to build 'em.

As such, these cars attract a cadre of mature drivers who favor the traditional feel of a big American car. Only better.

Trouble is, Lincoln's clientele is rapidly aging, with the average Town Car buyers well into their 60s. Lincoln would love to attract some less-geriatric drivers to the fold.

Lincoln Navigator, the luxury sport-ute behemoth based on the Ford Expedition, has helped bring in a younger crowd this year and pushed Lincoln sales way up the chart. Next year, Lincoln benefits from Ford's ownership of Jaguar, getting two sporty midsize sedans with input from the British marque.

For the Town Car, the rounded, sportier styling and improved driveability is directed at younger drivers, while trying not to scare away the traditional buyers. For instance, check out all that chrome, a definite '50s throwback.

The roof is rounded into a coupelike style, which looks from the outside as if it would compromise headroom in the back. That's deceiving, becau se even an NBA player should be able to sit back there in regal comfort.

The front end has a refined version of Lincoln's traditional formal grille, but now it's angled lower and appears more aggressive.

The Town Car is most distinctive from the rear, where its rounded trunk lid and enormous taillights make it look something like a newer Bentley. Reactions were mixed, but I think this look will sell and be copied by others.

The trunk space is enormous, but it's in the shape of a deep basin, lacking the practical advantages of a broad, flat trunk.

Our test car was a Cartier Edition, slathered with luxury appointments, leather, chrome bits and plastic wood trim. Otherwise, the interior is pretty straightforward, maybe a bit boring for such a high-end car.

This model also has the more powerful V-8, with 10 percent more horsepower than the base Executive model. Even so, acceleration is not terribly brisk, the 220 ponies working hard to haul the 4,000-pound car up to spe ed. But the engine is very smooth and quiet, in keeping with the Town Car's character.

Aside from the Cartier package, another optional upgrade is the Signature Touring Sedan, which offers tighter suspension and improved handling, along with the higher-output engine. According to other media reports, this is a worthwhile addition that should appeal to a younger crop of drivers.

Anyone considering the Town Car might check out the Grand Marquis, basically the same car with a similar level of appointments, but significantly less costly.

On the freeway between Tucson and Phoenix, the miles rolled by quickly, the Town Car quietly doing its job at 75-plus miles per hour, the excellent stereo reeling through the CDs. I enjoyed the solid ride, especially when passing phalanxes of semis. Wind noise was absent, and only faint tire rumble intruded on the climate-controlled cabin.

Aside from touring Manhattan, this is the kind of driving in which the Town Car excels, where its weight and driving ease are at their best.

I arrived home around midnight, feeling pretty mellow. The Town Car is a grand touring car in the American tradition - maybe not my style, but definitely well-appreciated on this late-night voyage.

1998 Lincoln Town Car

Vehicle type: Six-passenger, four-door sedan, rear-wheel drive. Base price: $41,830. Price as tested: $44,050. Engine: 4.6-liter V-8, 220 horsepower at 4,500 rpm, 275 pounds-feet of torque at 3,250 rpm. Transmission: Four-speed automatic. Curb weight: 4,030 pounds. Length: 215.3 inches. EPA fuel economy: 17 city, 24 highway. Highs: Many improvements. Roomy interior. Distinctive body style. Lows: Needs stronger engine. Dull interior. Geriatric image.

    Expert Reviews 1 of 7

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