This traditional rear-drive luxury sedan embodies the image most consumers have of Lincoln, an image the company is trying to change with models like the LS sedan and Navigator sport utility vehicle.
However, the Town Car remains Lincolns best-selling model by far, so dont look for it to disappear soon. Its main audiences are older buyers and limousine companies, and it is due for a face-lift for 2002. Lincoln says it will build the Town Car as long as there is sufficient demand.
New options for the Town Car this year center on nontraditional hardware and software. Lincoln offers a hands-free, voice-activated cellular phone that later in the year will allow links to 24-hour emergency service and the Internet for e-mail, stock quotes, news and weather.
All 2001 Lincolns also get free scheduled maintenance for the first three years or 36,000 miles.
Lincoln added a stretched version of the Town Car last spring, tacking on 6 inches to the wheelbase and overall length. The standard-size model rides a 118-inch wheelbase and is 215 inches overall 8 inches longer than the front-drive Cadillac DeVille, its archrival.
The Town Car is built on the same platform used for the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis but is longer and has different styling.
With its long wheelbase and wide interior, the Town Car provides ample room for occupants to lounge at least the ones in the outboard seats. The middle seats straddle the driveshaft tunnel and have less legroom and comfort than other positions. The split, front bench seat and wide rear bench coddle the outboard passengers by comparison.
Wide, tall doors make it easy to get in and out, and all models come with standard leather upholstery and lavish amounts of comfort and convenience features. Power-adjustable brake and accelerator pedals with a 3-inch range are now standard.
The trunk holds 20.6 cubic feet of luggage, though most of that comes from a deep center well that makes it awkward to load and unload because the spare tire hangs over the forward end.
Under the Hood
A 4.6-liter V-8 engine and four-speed automatic transmission are standard on all models. On the Executive and Signature models, horsepower increases by 20 this year to 220. Dual exhausts are standard on the top-shelf Cartier model and included with the Touring Package available for the Signature, and horsepower increases by 20 to 235. Standard safety features include side-impact airbags for the front seats, antilock brakes and traction control.
The Town Car lost a little size and weight when it was redesigned for 1998 and gained some athletic ability. It is still a large, cushy, traditional American luxury car, but it is far more agile and manageable than previous versions. The Cadillac DeVille feels more refined and powerful, so those who are interested should compare before they decide.