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By Jim Flammang
February 27, 2002
Vehicle Overview Lincolns rear-drive luxury sedan, the traditional favorite of older buyers and limousine companies, will probably earn some appearance changes for 2003. These revisions may include a raised hood to accommodate an optional 300-horsepower V-8 engine, a reworked front end with a smaller grille, a revised suspension, 17-inch tires and a bigger trunk an improvement that limousine drivers should fully appreciate. The Town Car was last redesigned for the 1998 model year.
The Town Car is basically the last vehicle of its kind on the market. For 2002, it gets a new Vehicle Communication System (VCS) as an option. The system includes a transportable digital/analog Motorola Timeport phone with voice activation and hands-free capability. VCS offers automatic emergency service notification upon airbag deployment, route assistant, and news and information services. The 4.6-liter V-8 develops either 220 hp or 235 hp, depending on the model. Both standard-length and extended-wheelbase versions are available.
This big sedan best conveys the image that most consumers still have of Lincoln. But to keep up with the times, the company has been trying to alter that image by introducing such vehicles as the LS sedan and the Navigator sport utility vehicle. Another SUV, called the Aviator, will be joining the Lincoln lineup later.
Exterior In standard form, the Town Car rides a 117.7-inch wheelbase and measures 215.3 inches long overall about 8 inches longer than its long-time archrival, the front-drive Cadillac DeVille. Though it is built on the same basic rear-drive platform as the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis, the Town Car is larger and displays entirely different styling, led by a waterfall vertical-bar grille.
The Cartier L extended model is far heavier than the standard trims, and it is exactly 6 inches longer than the base Executive model in both wheelbase and overall size. All Town Car models are 78.2 inches wide and about 58 inches tall.
Interior Even in standard form, six occupants have space to stretch out in the Town Cars wide interior. But passengers in both center positions must straddle the driveshaft tunnel and can be considerably less comfortable. Both the driver and front passenger have eight-way power-adjustable seating with power lumbar adjustment of the split bench. A memory feature controls the front seats, mirrors, and power-adjustable brake and accelerator pedal settings.
Tall, wide doors make it easy to get in and out of the Town Car. An optional easy entry/exit drivers seat feature moves the seat rearward when necessary to ease access. The seats are trimmed in leather. In both models, the trunk holds an ample 20.6 cubic feet of cargo. Because the spare tire hangs over the forward end, much of that space consists of a deep center well that makes it difficult to load and unload the trunk.
Under the Hood A 4.6-liter V-8 engine and four-speed-automatic transmission go into all Town Cars. The V-8 for the Executive and Signature editions produces 220 hp. Dual exhausts are added to the Cartier models and the Signature Touring Sedan (STS), and output climbs to 235 hp. All-disc antilock brakes, all-speed traction control and side-impact airbags for the front seats are standard.
Driving Impressions The Lincoln Town Car sees plenty of service in livery fleets that hover around airports and convention centers, because its the only large rear-drive luxury sedan that remains on the market with a fairly reasonable price. A little smaller in size than the previous-generation Town Car of the 1990s, its also more agile. But its still not ready to take on tight, fast curves without a protest. As it has always been, the Town Car is basically this: a cushy, quiet, traditional American luxury sedan with a suitable ride for its passengers and power thats more than adequate but not startling.
Cadillacs front-drive DeVille feels more refined, and its Northstar V-8 engine is more powerful, but plenty of affluent consumers would rather ride in this familiar Lincoln.