Mercurys rear-drive sedan gets more horsepower, dual-stage front airbags and power-adjustable pedals as its key changes for 2001. The Grand Marquis and similar Ford Crown Victoria are the last traditional full-size, rear-drive family sedans with V-8 engines. Both are built on the same platform as the Lincoln Town Car, which wears different styling and has larger dimensions.
The dual-stage front airbags deploy at one of two inflation levels based on crash severity, whether the seat belts are buckled and the position of the drivers seat. The airbags may not deploy in some less severe crashes if sensors detect that the seat belts are buckled.
While two-thirds of Crown Victoria sales go to police squads and taxicab companies, most Grand Marquis sales are to retail customers. Restyled versions of both are expected for the 2002 model year but will retain their current mechanical design.
The Grand Marquis and Crown Vic both have a 114.7-inch wheelbase and a 212-inch overall length, which makes them a foot longer than the Buick LeSabre, the best-selling full-size car. The only styling differences between the Ford and Mercury versions are their unique grilles, taillights and exterior trim.
With bench seats in the front and rear and a wide interior, the Grand Marquis has space for six people. Large doors facilitate entry and exit. Middle passengers, however, have to straddle a large driveshaft tunnel and dont have as much legroom as outboard occupants. The front seat is a split bench with a folding center armrest. Map pockets on the front doors are a new standard feature. The power-adjustable pedals, a new option, move fore and aft over a 3-inch range.
Though trunk volume is an impressive 20.6 cubic feet, much of the space is in a deep well that makes loading and unloading heavy items a strain.
Under the Hood
Two versions of Fords 4.6-liter V-8 engine are available. The standard version generates 220 horsepower, 20 hp more than last year as a result of internal changes and revised electronic controls. An optional handling package includes a dual exhaust system that boosts horsepower to 235, also 20 hp more than last year. Both engines come with a four-speed automatic transmission.
Antilock brakes and traction control are optional.