Model choices have been modified for Mercurys full-size rear-drive sedan, which is closely related to the Ford Crown Victoria. This years selection includes GS, GS Convenience, LS Premium, LS Ultimate and LSE versions.
Antilock brakes, traction control and heated mirrors are now standard on all models. The cupholders have been redesigned, and the LS Ultimate and LSE get auxiliary audio and climate controls on the steering wheel. A trunk organizer joins the options list this year.
Taken together, the Grand Marquis and similar Crown Victoria are the last of the traditional, full-size domestic family sedans. Both feature V-8 power, rear-wheel drive and separate body-on-frame construction. They are built on the same platform as the Lincoln Town Car, which has different styling and even larger dimensions.
Although the majority of Crown Victorias are sold to police squads and taxicab companies, most Grand Marquis sedans go straight to regular retail customers. Restyled versions of this big duo are likely to appear soon.
The Grand Marquis and Crown Victoria both ride a 114.7-inch wheelbase and measure 212 inches long overall, which makes them a foot longer than the Buick LeSabre the top-selling full-size car in the U.S. market. Styling differences between the two Ford products are evident mainly in their unique grilles, taillights and exterior trim. Each is a rather chubby 78.2 inches wide.
An optional handling package includes lacy-spoke aluminum wheels, a specially tuned front suspension and an air suspension with special springs for the rear.
Traditional bench seats are installed in both the front and rear of the Grand Marquis wide passenger area, which provides space for six occupants. The front bench seat is split and comes with a folding center armrest. Center passengers in each seat must straddle a large driveshaft tunnel and are deprived of the legroom that outboard riders enjoy. Large doors ease entry and exit, and the front doors have map pockets. Optional power-adjustable pedals move fore and aft over a 3-inch range. Leather seating is available at no extra cost for LS sedans.
Trunk space amounts to an impressive 20.6 cubic feet, but the usable capacity is actually smaller because much of the space is in a deep well. This makes loading and unloading heavy items a strain.
Under the Hood
Two versions of Fords 4.6-liter V-8 engine are available. In standard form, the engine develops 220 horsepower. An optional handling package includes a tauter suspension and a dual exhaust system that boosts engine output to 235 hp. Both engines mate with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
Antilock brakes and traction control are standard. Dual-stage front airbags deploy at one of two inflation levels based on crash severity, the position of the seat and whether the seat belts are buckled. Side-impact airbags are not available.
Once you get past the sedans abundant size inside and out the Grand Marquis delivers a pleasant driving experience. Its handling is better than that of big cars of the past, and its no problem on expressways or straight highways. But once the road turns twisty, the Grand Marquis driver is generally obligated to slow down considerably. These large rear-drive models just arent meant to cope with curves as well as modern probably smaller front-drive sedans.
On the positive side, the strong, quiet V-8 engines yield plenty of energy for confident passing and merging. Ride comfort is also a bonus, though the optional handling package might make the experience a little less gentle. Only a handful of younger folks take a shine to one of these sedans out of the American past; but for older people with more limited driving requirements, the Grand Marquis produces an awful lot of satisfied customers.