A new frame, suspension and steering system were the major changes in 2003 to Mercury's Grand Marquis full-size sedan. Equipment revisions and a mild face-lift highlighted changes for 2004. A CD player replaced the cassette unit on base GS, GS Convenience and LS Premium sedans. The modified overhead console contained a compass and garage-door opener.
Five Grand Marquis trim levels are available: GS, GS Convenience, LS Premium, LSE and LS Ultimate. Two-tone paint is optional on all 2005 models, which gain an automatic parking-brake release and an occupant sensor for the front passenger seat.
The Grand Marquis and similar Ford Crown Victoria are the only six-passenger rear-wheel-drive sedans with V-8 engines and traditional body-on-frame construction sold in the United States. The 4.6-liter V-8 produces either 224 or 239 horsepower.
According to Ford Motor Co., every Grand Marquis since 1996 has earned five-star ratings for the driver and front passenger in frontal-impact crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Styling changes to the grille, front fascia, headlamps, integrated cornering lamps and taillamp lenses took place in 2003. Lightweight hydroformed steel sections are used for the front rails of the full-perimeter frame. Standard 16-inch wheels are installed. An optional handling package includes a rear stabilizer bar, rear air suspension and aluminum wheels.
Measuring 211.9 inches long overall, the Grand Marquis rides a 114.6-inch wheelbase and stands 58.4 inches tall. Rack-and-pinion steering includes speed-dependent variable assistance.
Except for the five-passenger LSE, all Grand Marquis models hold up to six occupants. The trunk can hold 20.6 cubic feet of cargo. Liftover height is 28.7 inches, and a trunk organizer is optional.
Standard GS equipment includes a CD stereo, an eight-way power driver's seat with lumbar support, air conditioning, and power windows, locks and mirrors. The GS Convenience adds keyless entry and power-adjustable pedals. Heated mirrors, electronic temperature control and a power passenger seat go into the LS Premium sedan. The LSE model features two-tone leather seating surfaces. The LS Ultimate edition includes a rear air suspension and a cassette/CD audio system.
Under the Hood
In standard form, the 4.6-liter V-8 develops 224 hp. Models with the optional handling package get a more potent 239-hp version of the V-8 and dual exhausts. Both engines team with a four-speed-automatic transmission. The handling package includes a different rear-axle ratio for improved acceleration from a standstill. All-speed traction control is included with higher-end models.
Dual-stage front airbags are installed. All-disc antilock brakes incorporate electronic brake-force distribution. Side-impact airbags are optional on LS Premium, LSE and LS Ultimate models. A dual-rate brake booster automatically supplies full braking power during a panic stop.
Fans of traditional rear-drive sedans don't have many choices today. Fortunately, the Grand Marquis is a reasonable one, offering a comfortable ride, satisfactory performance and ample space. These attributes, however, are accompanied by tepid handling. Ford's Crown Victoria delivers the same benefits, but the Grand Marquis contains more comfort and convenience features for the extra dollars.