Vehicle Overview
Ford's traditional, full-size, rear-wheel-drive sedan got a new full-perimeter frame and some major upgrades in ride, comfort, safety, and steering and handling for 2003. Rack-and-pinion steering replaced the Crown Victoria's old recirculating-ball system, and the sizable sedan's turning circle was reduced by a foot.

Other than one new color and a newly available six-CD changer, little has changed for 2005. The Crown Victoria features a 4.6-liter V-8, and a power moonroof is optional on LX and LX Sport models for 2005.

The sedan earned five-star ratings for both front occupants in NHTSA frontal-impact crash tests. Mercury offers a similar Grand Marquis sedan with additional features and a higher price.

The Crown Victoria is offered in Standard, LX and LX Sport trim levels, along with an LX Premier Group option package that incorporates some of the features of the LX Sport.

Styling features include wide door openings, wraparound aero headlights and color-keyed bodyside moldings. Riding a 114.7-inch wheelbase, the four-door sedan is 212 inches long overall and 58.3 inches tall.

Standard tires measure 16 inches in diameter, but the LX Sport sedan gets 17-inchers on aluminum wheels and a monochromatic exterior. Automatic-leveling rear air springs are available.

Five or six people fit inside the Crown Victoria, depending on whether a bench or bucket seats are installed up front. Standard and LX models feature the front bench seat. An overhead console is standard in the LX and LX Sport models. The sedan's trunk holds 20.6 cubic feet of cargo, and a trunk organizer is offered as an option.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning, cruise control, a tilt steering column, a cassette stereo, and power windows, locks and mirrors. All Crown Victorias except the base model have a door-mounted keyless-entry pad. Remote keyless entry and a CD stereo are installed in the LX sedan. The LX Sport adds a cassette/CD stereo, electronic climate control, a floor-mounted gearshift lever and a full-length center console.

Under the Hood
In Standard and LX trims, the Crown Victoria's 4.6-liter V-8 produces 224 horsepower and 272 pounds-feet of torque and drives a four-speed-automatic transmission. Optional all-speed traction control uses the antilock braking system and throttle intervention to manage wheelspin. A more potent 239-hp version of the V-8, featuring a dual exhaust system, is standard in the LX Sport.

Antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are standard. A dual-rate brake booster applies full braking power automatically in a panic stop. Side-impact airbags are optional.

Driving Impressions
Though 2005 has seen the introduction of other rear-drive models, relatively few choices are available for drivers who seek rear-drive motoring at a moderate cost. Fortunately, the Crown Vic yields a generally pleasant experience, led by an easygoing ride. As long as you don't expect sharp handling, this sedan can be a sensible purchase, but it's bigger than most people need.