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Expert Reviews 1 of 8
By Jim Flammang
January 24, 2003
Vehicle Overview At a glance, the next-generation Lincoln Town Car doesnt look like a close relative to its predecessor, which was marketed from 1998 to 2002. The 2003 version is noticeably more formal in appearance and features a completely different grille and taillights enough to give this rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan a different personality.
The basic platform and profile havent changed significantly, but the frame and front suspension are new. Steering and handling improvements lead the technical revisions. A new dashboard combines traditional and modern elements. Lincoln claims that the cabin is quieter and more refined. Reductions in the levels of noise, vibration and harshness stem from such efforts as the modification of the space between cylinder heads.
Five Town Car versions are on sale: the regular-wheelbase Cartier, Signature and Executive series, and the posh long-wheelbase Cartier L and Executive L models. Many of the latter go to limousine companies.
Even though the Town Cars overall appearance hasnt changed dramatically, the 2003 model displays a more formal look than its predecessor, courtesy of the reshaped hood, fenders and quarter panels. A stand-up hood ornament that was absent from the prior generation has returned. The new, chromed, vertical-bar grille stands more upright than before and is flanked by quad-beam halogen headlights that Lincoln claims are 60 percent brighter. High-intensity-discharge headlights are standard on the Cartier L and optional on the regular Cartier sedan.
Standard models are 215.4 inches long overall on a 117.7-inch wheelbase, while the L sedans measure 221.4 inches long with a 123.7-inch wheelbase. All models now have 17-inch tires on aluminum wheels. Euroflange wheels promise a clean appearance because their wheel-balancing weights are concealed. A power glass moonroof is optional.
The Town Car seats up to six occupants with a 40/20/40-split bench in the front. Seats in the Signature and Cartier sedans are trimmed in premium leather. The adjustment travel of the front seat has increased by 1.5 inches. Panels of burl walnut appliqué decorate the instrument panels and doors, and an elegant analog clock is new. A wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel is standard in the Signature and Cartier models.
In addition to the regular analog speedometer, a separate digital speedometer is installed. Standard equipment includes an eight-way power feature for the drivers seat and all outboard passenger seats, power lumbar support, dual-zone climate control and adjustable pedals. The Signature and Cartier models have heated seats and automatic wipers. All Town Cars can be equipped with the Lincoln Vehicle Communication System, which features voice-activated calling, roadside assistance, emergency notification and more.
Under the Hood
Lincolns 4.6-liter V-8 engine develops 239 horsepower thats 19 hp more than the previous standard power plant produced. A four-speed-automatic transmission is standard.
Dual-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags and antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are standard.
Within moments of starting off in the new Town Car, the steering and handling improvements become evident. The 2003 model delivers a more secure, confident sensation than its predecessor by offering a greater kinship with the road. This sedan yields a surprisingly appealing driving experience.
The latest Town Car is especially easy to drive and exceptionally stable on the expressway; it produces a smooth yet controlled ride. The sedan is also very quiet, but you can hear the engine. To a considerably greater degree than prior Town Cars, the new model hangs tight in curves. Braking in the Town Car was less pleasing as its pedal exhibited a long dead spot before the brakes became effective.
The seat bottoms are fairly long and well cushioned, but support could be better. Raising the center console box gives seating space for three people in the front seat. Interior space is abundant, and rear legroom in the extended-length sedan is nothing short of massive.