By on July 9, 2007

07fordcrownvic_03.jpgIf cars were ordered by the foot, then the Ford Crown Victoria is exactly what you’d get if you walked into a Ford dealer and said “I’d like 17.6 feet of car please.” Other than length, Ford’s fleet-duty work horse has absolutely no outstanding features what-so-ever and very few features worth mentioning. Still, the Crown Vic and its panther playmates (the Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car) are perennial favorites among fleet buyers and, uh, fleet buyers. In fact, in anticipation of its removal from the retail field of battle, the Ford website doesn’t even list the Crown Victoria under “passenger cars.” Should they?

If you discount the original 1955 Ford Fairlane variant, the Crown Victoria’s lineage stretches back to 1992. In the intervening 28 years, Ford nipped and tucked the full-size model’s sheetmetal to keep it vaguely semi-modern. Like Cher, the Crown Vic’s constant plastic surgery masks the model’s age well— as long as you don’t look at it too closely or for too long.

The Crown Victoria has a gi-normous hood and Mafia-sized trunk, with a classically low greenhouse squeezed in between. Large headlights, a [comparatively] demure grill and optional push bar round out the ancient classic styling. This antithesis of “cab-forward” design is actually somewhat appealing, in a wannabe cop/cabbie sort of way. And don’t forget the bonus: everyone THINKS you’re a cop. (Even cops.) You can either travel [slowly] in a bubble of law abiding folks, or blow through them looking suitably stern. 

07fordcrownvic_04.jpgOnce you realize the Crown Victoria isn’t a police car—well, THIS one isn’t– the recognition hits: this IS your grandfather’s Ford. Sure, the corners have been rounded off a bit, but the Vic’s minuscule gauge cluster, endlessly flat plastic dashboard, bench seating for a sextuplet and column shifter all point to prehistoric DNA. 1980s flash backs include: faux wood trim that’s not “fauxin” anyone, and velour (!) Barcalounger seats.

The Vic’s blue-light-special pricing precludes nifty toys. Dual zone climate control? No and no. Bluetooth? What’s that? MP3? Nope. Still, the radio will pick up AM Gold clear across the square states and adjustable pedals are the sciatica sufferer’s best friend. The Crown Vic’s trump card: a cavernous rear compartment that seats three large adults without the slightest complaint (unless they’re wearing handcuffs). The Vic’s high roofline means that 6’4” linebackers and 4’6” grannies with 20” blue-beehives are accommodated with equal ease.

Hoods this epic used to indicate something wicked this way driveth. Alas, that equation went the way of the pet rock. This barge gets FoMoCo’s 4.6-liter modular V8. The tried and true OHC mill cranks-out a meager 224hp and 262 ft-lbs of twist. Crank up the eight-cylinder mill and the ‘Vic charms with a surprisingly quiet and civilized nature. The V8 burbles smoothly. Plenty o’ sound insulation keeps the clamor of the outside world at bay.

2006_ford_crownvictoria_ext_1.jpgMash the Vic’s throttle and Ford’s brick-on-wheels scoots from zero to 60mph in a respectable 8.4 seconds. Thanks to rear wheel-drive and decent on-tap twist, the truly dedicated hoon (who wouldn’t be seen dead in a Vic) can elicit Mustang-like oversteer and parking brake turns with shocking ease. If you have fond memories of abusing your folk’s Country Squire on the way to school, this whip is for you.

With Cretaceous-era DNA, a 17-year-old V8 and a tiller that serves-up about as much road feel as a hovercraft, it’s no surprise that the Crown Vic hustles down the road like Officer Doughnut. (There’s a reason why every 70’s cop show chase scene had loads of tire squeal.) On the positive side, the Crown Vic rides on a surprisingly firm suspension. It’s no corner carver, but neither is it a floaty drifty automotive schooner.

For the 26 large [or less with the inevitable discounts], the Crown Vic buyer gets more cylinders than the competition, a trunk suitable for cadaver transport and fuel economy that is not as bad as it could be. But don’t get me wrong: I come here to bury the Crown Victoria, not to praise it. The 4057 pound sedan is all barge and no luxo. Anyone who sees this vehicle as the key to Ford’s turnaround needs to check the color of their mood ring and think again.

megs-charles2.jpgI reckon it’s a good thing that the Ford Crown Victoria is destined for fleet-only sale. The ’08 Taurus– whose predecessor was relegated to the fleets before its recent (if entirely nominal) resurrection– packs more power, better fuel economy, AWD and more cargo/passenger room. Still, if Ford can reinvent the Five Hundred as a Taurus then maybe they can find something worthy of reinventing as the “new” Crown Victoria. I nominate the Jaguar XJ.

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78 Comments on “Crown Victoria Review...”


  • avatar
    JJ

    So, why was Ford in trouble again…?

    Still, headrestless backseats rule!

    I have to admit, in all its South Korean Luxobargeness it is kind of cool is some ways. Like, in the TopGear cool wall kind of way. I mean, obviously nobody should buy this but still.

    Also “the truly dedicated hoon (who wouldn’t be seen dead in a Vic)”???

    It’s a perfect car for hoonage…especially after some minor adjustments…

  • avatar

    The 4057 pound sedan is all barge and no luxo.

    A few more years and it’ll be the lightest car of it’s size you can buy.

  • avatar
    windswords

    Why do a “review” of a car we can’t buy? Isn’t the Vic no longer available to retail buyers? I would have been more interested in a review of the Marquis. Maybe it has the dual zone climate control (then again, maybe not).

  • avatar
    mrcknievel

    uh-oh….somebody’s picking on a Panther platform car…

    *ducks and covers*

  • avatar

    windswords:
    I would have been more interested in a review of the Marquis. Maybe it has the dual zone climate control (then again, maybe not).

    Nope. But it DOES offer a “Palm Beach Edition” complete with “power-heated exterior mirrors with chrome skull caps.”

  • avatar
    GS650G

    The sport model had dual exhaust, lower rear end gearing, rear air suspension, a center consle with shifter, and better wheels. Add a supercharger kit and it is a definate sleeper.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    By her time, the crown vic was the embodiment of american true virtues. It was gargantuan , preferably slowly cruisin` ship that sent it`s message all around- i have dough, I have space, andd I have a trunk for at least 3 bodies. It has got no idea about oversteer, understeer, weight saving or agility. It `s about slow motion picture, so you could manage to notice the the chrome grille, crown vic passport ID, and the chrome wheels that had to be polished more seriously ,unlike some stupid gasket or oil pressure checkings. it had vinyl and leather everywhere. plastic was a blasphemy. it was about being solid, being man, being average at job, but being generous at beer spree or acting truly masculine.no book-keeping. no fuel economy. fuel gauge could be replaced anyway by a huge chrome ego readout. It`s a retirees fort, imaginably strong, presumably reliable, and with scmeckable sense of value. sure it sways more than Mel Gibson after a binge, Is more fuel thirsty than Gates for the greenback, longer than Naomi campbell`s legs, is as natural in it`s segment as Cher in her face, Is as new and modern as Jack Daniel`s whiskey , as feminine as Vin diesel and as truly luxury as Martha Stewart. It`s a hell of a machine…for a museum. this is what happens when ford engineers get frozen for too long in their cryogenic cameras. knock, knock!!!

  • avatar
    zenith

    Why is this thing still in production and the Delta 88 only a memory.

    Last summer, my daughter was in the market for something she could buy for $3-4,000 cash. i helped her look.

    Small stuff, from whatever manufacturer, was beat-up and had 140K+ miles on it.

    Since my daughter doesn’t drive more than 6-8,000
    miles per year and gas cost would be much less of a factor than it is for her mother and me who put 11,000/year on each of two vehicles, I suggested we look at Granny-mobiles. These were in much better overall condition.

    Crown Vic actually had a more cramped-feeling rear
    seat than big GM FWDs like Bonneville, 88, Le Sabre.

    She got a nice ’98 Delta 88 for $2800.

    Having driven Marquis,Crown Vic, Intrepid/Concorde, and the GM triplets,Ican say that the Ford and Merc are the worst of the lot.

  • avatar
    andyinsdca

    Actually, the Crown Victoria goes back further than ’92. It’s this generation/look of Crown Vic that goes back to 92. I had a ’91 Police Interceptor Crown Vic (that I bought off of the CHP sales lot in Torrance) – it was big & squared off. And VERY VERY fast.

  • avatar

    The standard version of this car is rather pointless for anyone under 65, that is until you drive one with the police interceptor package. First of all, it comes with a badge that says “Police Interceptor”, which I think is worth the price of admission right there. It goes like stink, costs damn little to maintain, handles like a hoot and hauls all the dead bodies you need for a Friday night. I still think this car is the bees knees.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Actually, the Crown Victoria goes back further than ‘92.

    It was either 1982 or 1983, whenever the LTD went from two headlights to the LTD CV’s four.

    Alex, nice review. Did you test the sport model or one with the regular suspension/wheels?

  • avatar
    barberoux

    All they need is a new advertising campaign slogan, “Crown Victoria. the epitome of nanny-technology.”

  • avatar
    JSForbes

    I want to see a review of the Police Interceptor model.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    We have a review of the current revision Grand Marquis on the site already.

    I agree, with the supercharger it is a great sleeper, and that fits with the bottom line. Unfortunately the market moved on as we saw with the Mercury Marauder which didn’t exactly fly off dealer’s lots. Still, the value proposition is satisfied since the price is low and if you are after a car to modify, you could do a great deal worse than a ‘Vic.

    I tested both the base and the sport models. If you plan to modify your ‘Vic, you might as well start with the base model. The feel of the sport model is not terribly different since even the base model has surprisingly refined on-road manners. Save yourself some money so you can buy a push bar.

    I had a chance to drive the police interceptor model. It is 100% the same in feel as compared to the ‘Vic with the sport package except it’s slower with the extra weight (not to mention all the weight from the equipment the police add). Safe to say it is really no wonder the po-po have some troubles catching minivans now and then.

  • avatar
    skor

    The basic design of this car goes back to 1979.

  • avatar
    92camrywagon

    I rented one of these last week. I had considered a Crown Vic as a minivan-alternative when our third kid was on the way. We ended up with a minivan, but I was curious to compare them as family cars.

    First, it is easy to fit 3 child seats in the backseat. The baby bucket goes in the middle, conveniently isolating the bickering toddlers.

    However, it’s downhill from there. The trunk is large, but our luggage wouldn’t fit without careful arrangement. The trunk space is broken up by the spare tire and the intrusion of the hinges. We had 3 suitcases + 2 strollers. In our minivan, all this stuff just stacks up in the back with no effort, with room to spare (of course the third row is in use).

    On the road, the suspension and brakes are all squishy. A simple lane change on the freeway leads to nauseating roll. Light turning yellow? Start braking now, or you might not stop in time.

    Acceleration seemed leisurely to me–I was expecting a bit of V8 punch, but it felt no different from the 3.3L V6 in our Sienna.

    The only redeeming quality of the Crown Vic as a family car is the wide bench seating arrangement.

    If you are looking for a safe, used family car for $5000, maybe this should be on your list. Especially if you do a lot of freeway driving. And you like to stick to one lane.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I think this review has the right idea, wrong car.

    A late model police interceptor or a sport package model would be the one for us enthusiasts. The former can still be picked up at any county/city auction and their maintenance histories are usually far far better than the typical used car.

    The later is a sleeper… but as Alan pointed out, probably the best one for pimpin’ ;)

  • avatar
    NickR

    Actually, the tables can be turned with these, i.e., the police can use the Grand Marquis as a sleeper. I remember cruising along one of the highways here and beside me was a black Marauder. It has the shiny chrome wheels, shiny grill, even whitewalls. A GTI and a modified Civic had a go at each other the Marauder reeled them in. I can only imagine the look of surprise on their face.

    I had a hand me down Crown Vic for years. It was a hoot to drive after a big snowfall, and was dead reliable. Once you got used to it’s driving dynamics, it actually cornered respectably.

    And living in Toronto, it offered one feature that you can’t put a value on…no one, and I do mean no one, cut me off.

    Still, for such a large car the interior packaging wasn’t really great. I am 6 ft 4 and I never really felt as though I had quite enough leg room. The Five Hundred is far more spacious.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    Realize that when this platform goes away there will exist only one other automotive platform that is uniquely American and that is the pick-up truck/SUV.
    Then you can announce the complete globalization of the automotive industry.
    I for one will miss the full sized sedan and will likely become the owner of a truck.

  • avatar
    dsf3g

    It must be cool, though, to watch everyone around you slow down to the speed limit and pull into the right lane whenever you approach. In that sense driving this car must seem like parting the Red Sea everywhere you go.

  • avatar
    saabophile

    I’m glad someone has made a fleet only vehicle at last. Its not a new model, but fleet only is the right thing to do with this car. Fleet buyers dont care if the car doesnt change every year, in fact they prefer that they stayed the same so their accessories will still fit form year to year. All Ford needs to do to make this the perfect fleet vehicle is add a V6 option and a larger V8 option for fleets that either want more oomph (cops) or better economy (taxis, etc). Instead of selling Ford 500s to fleet buyers they should just sell these. The more the merrier and the more the cheaper im sure with development costs long since paid for.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    It must be cool, though, to watch everyone around you slow down to the speed limit and pull into the right lane whenever you approach. In that sense driving this car must seem like parting the Red Sea everywhere you go.

    The problem is the waters do not part, they just freeze. After a day of driving around in a ‘Vic you realize that when people thin k you are a cop, they don’t move over, they just s-l-o-w down. No wonder I mirrored the EPA fuel economy numbers, I don’t think I ever went above the limit on account of the blockade of cars in front of me with their brake lights on.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Realize that when this platform goes away there will exist only one other automotive platform that is uniquely American and that is the pick-up truck/SUV.

    Then you can announce the complete globalization of the automotive industry.

    Well said, Gottleib.

  • avatar
    NickR

    and a larger V8 option for fleets that either want more oomph (cops)

    On that note, I wonder why they never dropped the 5.4 litre Triton in this for police interceptor use? (Of course, taken to the extreme, I wonder if the V10 would fit. Kind of pointless to take it that far, but still, it would be a hoot.)

    I too will be sorry to see it go. The comment about it being the only uniquely American car left is very true. Ford’s neglecting the Panther platform to death is another of their unforgiveable sins.

    • 0 avatar
      twinsonic

      The 5.4 litre Triton motor engine block is too tall, preventing the hood slamming shut.  I have seen the 4.6 32 valve engine in a P71 CVPI and tested on the track, doing close to 145 mph.  But, the lower bumper fascia buckled severely during the top speed run, causing damage to the bumper. 

  • avatar
    AKILEZ

    Change the Platform??? don’t forget to have a reserve tank of gas on the back of your pickup/suv. I didn’t know having a Pick truck/Suv
    is uniquely American. I wonder whassup w/ the Mustang and the new American cars coming out on 2009 and 2010 (did you see the Transformers)?

    I thought automotive Globalization already started back in the 70’s during the OPEC oil embargo and the introduction of Compast cars by Datsun and Toyota.

    Very well said Akilez….

  • avatar
    windswords

    jurisb:
    July 9th, 2007 at 8:48 am
    “It`s a retirees fort, imaginably strong, presumably reliable, and with scmeckable sense of value. sure it sways more than Mel Gibson after a binge, Is more fuel thirsty than Gates for the greenback, longer than Naomi campbell`s legs, is as natural in it`s segment as Cher in her face, Is as new and modern as Jack Daniel`s whiskey , as feminine as Vin diesel and as truly luxury as Martha Stewart…”

    Jurisb,
    With writing of that quality you should try your hand at writing a TTAC editorial.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Alas, after a quarter-century of Ford continuous improvement the Crown Vic is still on Consumer Reports’ Not Recommended list.

  • avatar

    “No outstanding features what-so-ever”? The Crown Vic seats six in comfort, has a trunk big enough to live in, gets 25 MPG on the highway, is easy to park, and costs $26k. Find me an SUV that meets that description. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Detroit traditionalist; I’m all for smaller and more economical. But when it comes to big-time people movers, the Crown Vic does it pretty darn well.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    These cars are cool. I was behind a long line of traffic on the expressway one evening and everyone was going exactly 65. The lead car was a plain Crown Vic that looked like a police cruiser. Nobody had the guts to pass her for miles until someone figured it wasnt a police car.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Autonerd,
    How about the Odyssey, Caravan, Sienna, Sedona and Quest? They all seat 6+ with a lot more room than any sedan and decent mileage.

  • avatar
    tms1999

    I like the Crown Vic (and I’m only 34) it’s 80% of a 300c killer and everything in it has been paid for. All you need is:

    1. Updated interior, and seeing the latest Explorer I know Ford is able to produce decent interiors.
    2. A better engine. And again, a few years ago they squeezed out 300 hp out of the same engine in the Marauder by just reworking headers and cams. And it’s not like Ford is low on the big engine department, nor is the engine bay of the Crown Vic too small.
    3. Sheetmetal from the 427 concept.

    So what’s the problem? Ford is the problem. They definitely let that one rot on the vine into oblivion.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    Ah yes – the beloved Ford Panther platform. Having driven them for years, I think you are missing the point of the vehicle.

    It is an honest car, built for a time when Americans wanted something solid and reliable that they could depend on for years. I absolutely love mine, and it will be a sad day when it finally does die. I’ll buy one more before I turn my back on Ford for it’s neglect of it’s family jewel.

    The best unit to buy is a base Grand Marquis with the rear air suspension – it will ride like a million bucks, yet haul like a pick-up truck.

    When I think of all the things I’ve hauled in the trunk of my old 94 Grand Marquis, and my current 2002 Grand Marquis – 1,000 lbs of concrete, 6 foot sections of prefab deck railings, 36 inch televisions, an assembled wheelbarrow, two bikes, lawnmowers, etc.

    People today buy based upon what they think their neighbors like, not what they like. I’ve never had and serious issues with either Grand Marquis, and as stated before, the respect you get on the road driving the car is very interesting.

    I used to also own a 2000 Intrepid – the biggest piece of crap ever, especially compared to a real car like a Grand Marquis. For such little cash, you can buy a car that will run for 200,000 miles, and unlike the little unibody crapwagons, it is a car you don’t mind driving for 200,000 miles.

    Proud member of the “Panther mafia”

  • avatar
    tsofting

    Oh, oh, how this review brings back (fond) memories! Just to set the record straight, the car that has morphed into today’s Vic’ came out in 1979, Ford’s contribution to the new class of “sensibly sized” full size cars. I went to the substantial effort of importing one of these to Europe in 1979, a brand spanking new Country Squire with “real” plastic wood sides and all the usual trims. Rest assured – taxman100 and other Panther lovers – I was King of the Road in that machine! European and Japanese crapmobiles(!!) politely gave the right of way to this machine! I have a particularly vivid memory of a trip in Northern Sweden around 1980. We were driving up to the front of a small, rural motel, and the manager/owner lady came running down the entrance, wondering whether the King of Sweden was about to visit her modest establishment! But, I also remember how the frame could (and would) strike violently into the road if driven beyond its capacities on frost heaved country roads. It even had a “scrape bar” welded to the front crossmember to protect the oil sump! It is really sad to the this latest specimen of the true American sedan being milked for what it’s worth without getting two cents worth of upgrade. I am inclined to feel it should have been given an honorable death, instead of just letting it degrade into a joke!

  • avatar

    I’d buy one, but I like staying married.

    Buying a Crown Vic is the one idea, out of the countless crazy car thoughts that I’ve spoken aloud, that led flatly to my wife indicating that if I bought one, I’d be using it to move into a place of my own.

    She tolerates most all of my automotive craziness, but I guess driving a old-/hit-man mobile was one step too far.

    Maybe I’ll try again in 25 years, when a CV would be more age appropriate.

    (And yes, she’s worth it.)

  • avatar
    confused1096

    I really wish Ford would try updating this car (maybe re-skinned with the new Interceptor concept) rather than just downgrade it to fleet only status. The biggest problem with the car is simply lack of modernization. The current Vic is essentially unchanged from the 1998 model. The Focus and the Ranger suffer from the same malaise. I would suggest where Ford management has their head at, but I don’t want to get my comment deleted.
    That being said, I like the car. I’ve owned one for awhile now and it does everything I need it to quite well. It seats my family of 5 comfortably if we use it instead of the minivan. I can haul anything I need in the trunk. The rubber floor and vinyl seats in the back clean up after kid messes very easily…I may never (for the next 15 years anyway) have a carpeted floor again. The car has decent performance, and the heavy duty suspension, dual exhaust, transmission cooler, and performance intake are nice bonuses (I know that’s the PI package but everything I’ve mentioned, minus the rubber floor, comes with the sport). As for the review stating that enthusiasts should shop elsewhere: Remember: every aftermarket performance upgrade for a Mustang will work on this car. GREAT for those of us that have to have 4 doors on our daily driver.
    The new base model can be had, after rebates, for around 24K. For the price of an Accord or Camry you can get a real car.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    The new base model can be had, after rebates, for around 24K.

    24k? I’ve seen many a loss leader Grand Marquis sold for 18-19k…and that’s drive out. Base models are deep in Camry CE price range.

    And the dirty little secret is that base models come with power everything, standard.

  • avatar
    svensk

    The cops get tired of being torched on city roads by pickup trucks, and or anthing with 3.73/4.10 gears and a V8. They make up for it though on the highways where the vic’s fairly tall gears get them up to 127mph.
    Unfortunately the charger police edition is still too expensive to replace vics.

  • avatar
    lprocter1982

    Svensk: The police don’t need stupid fast cars to catch criminals. They have Motorolas and other police cars to gang up on speeding criminals.

  • avatar
    svensk

    helicopters.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    A Crown Vic or its variants are the only American cars I would consider buying at this time. Guess that makes me an old fart. Mini vans, bah humbug

  • avatar
    taxman100

    The Comedian: my wife is not a big fan of my Grand Marquis either. I’ve been trying to convince her to drive the car when the child we are adopting is matched up, but she wants to buy some small chick-SUV. In other words, pay more for a lesser product.

    I wish the Colony Park was still available – I’d jump on that.

  • avatar
    Ryan

    If you go at this with the right outlook, this is nothing more than a continuation of Henry Ford’s original vision. The Crown Vic, like the Model T, is simple, durable, and reasonably unpretensious. It’s got some undeniably good qualities, and realistically, what it’s missing out on is meaningless gadgetry. I’m not saying Ford hasn’t left it to die, but for something so minimally changed, it’s held up well. Honestly, that’s a virtue we should praise a little more.

    I’ll admit though, I’ve had a soft spot for the Vic since I was a toddler (my grandparents had an ’86). I’d love to pick one up at some point in time (I suppose I really wish that GM hadn’t killed off the Caprice – I work at a Chev dealer, so I feel obligated to be a GM guy).

  • avatar
    htn

    As far as I can tell the Sport CV is only 90% of the PI. The Sport package has less horsepower, less engine/tranny cooling, weaker alternator than the PI. But the real killer is you cannot get black steel wheels delivered on your Sport CV. White CV sport with black grill and aftermarket steel wheels (with or w/o small center hubcaps). That’s the ticket. Also used PI (one used as supervisor car not patrol car)is not a bad car for young person living in a large city but needing a car.

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    I wonder if some of you have actually driven this car. I’m pretty sure whoever wrote the Marquis review didn’t. My family’s had four of them. A ‘92, a ‘98, an ‘00, and an ‘01.

    I wasn’t old enough to drive the first two, but I can say the latter models definitely have some redeeming qualities.

    The drive isn’t what you’d expect, or at least not entirely. The steering is vague with a high ratio, and the chassis unsettles easily with mid-corner bumps. The car movements feel disconnected from the control inputs. But it corners flat, and the front end has loads of grip. If you’re used to FWD cars today, the way this car sticks will surprise you. The brakes are very strong and actually a bit touchy. They fade quickly, as the cops have discovered, but not so much for the first few stops.

    Mileage sucks. 16 MPG, realistically. And the engine is an odd choice for the car. It’s nothing like the old Caprice LT1s. There isn’t much torque down low. It likes to rev, but there isn’t some sudden pickup in thrust in the high range. The engine just makes more noise as it winds up. The torque wasn’t any better in the Marauder, which is why that car failed. Nissan’s 340 HP 4.6L or Chevrolet’s LS2 block would transform the car.

    I think making this a fleet car is exactly the right thing for Ford to do. On the kinds of things Consumer Reports evaluates, the CV is a knock-down, drag-out failure. We also have an ‘05 stripper Camry, which wallops this car in every ‘family’ category.

    But to the people who actually drive the CV, it’s leagues beyond anything else you can buy. Body-on-frame means that when you hit something, you can replace cheap panels and not scrap the car. The pushbar in front becomes something you can actually use. The frame is rated to tow 3000 lbs or better. All the internals are ancient, so they’re bulletproof and cheap to repair. The car is physically large enough to hold a half-dozen people and loads of gear in the trunk. The seats are comfortable and visibility all-around is excellent, which is more than can be said for the Charger. And the tree-shift means you can mount more stuff in the middle area in the front.

    In short, while it’s completely uncompetitive in the family sedan market, there are people for whom the car is ideal. Really, all it needs is suspension work, a better engine, and a stiffer floorpan.

  • avatar

    This car make a lot of sense if you understand what it is NOT !
    I had one for 7 years, 130k miles and I loved it, as long as you know what it is for, not too much excitement, great engine, no problems whatsoever, fuel consumption that is much better than many other cars considering the size, extremely cheap to maintain.
    True, we are in 2007 and it’s not the most sophisticated thing around, but not many people care, read about some problems BMW and Mercedes owners have with their sophisticated cars.
    I have to admit; I do drive a compact Japanese car now, 2 of the reasons for that is constantly looking for a parking space in Manhattan and of course fuel costs.
    Go to any ford dealer and you can take a used one for pennies.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    KnightRT, if it’s a good, comfortable hauler you want, reconsider a minivan. My minivan tows 3500lbs, seats 6 ve-ry comfortably (I won’t be poking a kid with my elbow as we drive, and carries a ton of gear, beside, getting better fuel economy as we go.

    As for the repairability, if the resale value tanks, a small accident will still cause your insurance company to total it out. I think I’d rather take the hit in a recently engineered minivan, too, from a survival perspective.

    If you want to haul 6 people and can’t stand the look of a minivan, sure, the CV is for you. However, if you want to haul 6(+!) people and aren’t biased, you’ll gravitate to a minivan. It’s just more practical.

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    Kix, that wasn’t really what the post was about. I was writing from the perspective of fleet buyers. I don’t want a comfortable hauler at all, I want an M3. But were I a cop, I’d much prefer the Vic.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    This car is akin to the most perfect version of a 1960s or ’70s American car you could find, like a 1970 Ford LTD with disc brakes upgrades, all around, and a level of restoration close to number one. It is the American version of the Morgan, a venerable anachronism that just keeps on ticking (to borrow a phrase from an old Timex watch ad).

    It’s a cheap shot to call it “an old man’s car,” but to a degree that is accurate; since it reminds older Americans of how all American cars were once laid out. Police officers like them since most police officers tend to be bigger guys or gals. Then too, now that they have to ride not only with a shotgun, but a laptop upfront, even if they are just hitting six feet in height, these cars are good for that line of work.

    But at what point do you keep trying to get the kinks out of what is essentially an anachronism? Maybe Ford should ask Morgan that one.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Upon reflection, I believe what I meant to write was: at what point do you stop trying to get the kinks out of what is essentially an anchronism?

  • avatar
    Mud

    Ah, I see we are kickin’ the vics again.

    I have more than a few runs on both my 95 CVPI and my 02 HPP having to fetch parts for the oh-so-sophisticated German vehicles that we also own.

    You miss the point – just because she has a plain face does not mean that she would not be a great wife.

  • avatar
    213Cobra

    The wheelbase of the Panther platform, along with the space needed to accommodate the solid axle limited the cabin space relative to the overall length of the Vic, but it was still a roomy conveyance and one of the very few vehicles of its price able to take three child seats across or two teenagers or adults in … uh … repose. Solid, roomy, big-shouldered, affordable, safe. So what’s not to like? Cool sometimes misses the best stuff.

    The Mercury Marauder proved the platform can move, dance and show some poise, in a high-strength configuration that eludes the sheet-metal origami of the front-drive swarm.

    Notwithstanding the old-school body-on-frame, solid-axle, V8, RWD, two-ton character, the platform got some updates in 2003 that materially and seriously improved the driving experience. That year saw the debut of hydroformed front frame rails, which noticeably stiffened the structure and banished dash creaks. Modern monotube shocks — Konis on the Marauder — and revised spring rates tightened the suspension. Rack & pinion steering amped up road feel by about 50X. The stick axle got a Watts Link to locate it, which proved the wisdom of sorting out the rear suspension if you want make a car steer properly. Brakes got a bump up. With these changes the car felt much more contemporary. The major letdown has always been Ford’s stubborn refusal to put the premium versions of the 4.6L in the engine room.

    The Town Car begs for the power and high-spin smoothness of the Marauder’s 32v mill. The CV and GM need the Mustang’s 3 valve version in full GT tune. New gen 6 speed autos wouldn’t hurt.

    Like most Ford special editions, the Marauder wasn’t marketed and LM dealers for the most part didn’t know how to sell it. I bought one on a whim just because I had never owned a Panther and I figured Ford would never build a better version. That car was sensational. It was a mystery to most people but it outright amazed everyone I let drive it. Long hood? Only to those with short memories. The car’s ability to move on mashed-throttle kickdown made people raised on V6s giddy. The surprising tenacity of the suspension and the BF Goodrich gForce kDWs flummoxed sports car drivers attempting to lose it. The larger brakes hauled the car down with dispatch. The business-like interior was calm and accommodating. An Accord, Impala, Taurus or a Camry seemed like a toy after an outing in the big Marauder, yet with the extra power and handling precision, the car drove smaller than it was — always a good sign.

    Was it completely modern? Naw, not by a long shot. It’s a heavy platform, though I still managed to get 17/25 fuel mileage. Panthers are light on electronics and distractions. They do have traction control but even that is made much more effective if you bolt an all-mechanical Torsen into the pumpkin. You do sense that the frame and the body have a slight disconnect, compared to a well-executed unibody. However, the super-durability and sheer presence of the car were felt in every rolling mile. These cars are serene cruisers able to sprint into action when called to. They insulate you from the flaring emotion of other drivers. You feel less frustrated by coagulating traffic. People give you room. And if you keep it clean and shiny, valet staff still love Panthers and give them respect disproportionate to their price and implied status. Really, a lot of people who buy $25K front drive massmobiles ought to be in Panthers, and if more of them were, the CV would still be in dealers. Unfortunately, most of those people haven’t even sampled one.

    When I bought my Marauder, I walked into a LM dealer knowing what I wanted and how much I wanted to pay. I was buying the car as an experience, an aesthetic, and possibly as basis for a project car. The test drive wasn’t going to influence my decision, only inform what I might do with the car first. The salesman approached. It turned out he was a former race car driver. His eyes lit up when I told him I was interested in a Marauder. “We have to go on my 23 mile test drive, then.” He grabbed the keys and slapped me on the back to get in the car.

    He was headed for Mulholland Highway. It was dark. We flew west on Mulholland, through the back side of Malibu at 75 – 85 mph. He expertly flicked the big Mercury through every turn, making it feel half its actual mass and size. after he covered 11 miles as his demo, he pulled over. “Here, now you take it back.” He jerked open his door and motioned me to exchange.

    On the drive back I nearly matched his pace, only slowing some for curves where line of sight was insufficient to react to a deer or coyote in the road. I locked out the overdrive to let that smooth Mach 1 mill spin its music in the power band. The front end felt modern and the back was old school but all four corners stayed planted and true. I didn’t need that car. I had 4 others at home. But I had to have it.

    These cars are not up-to-the-moment designs but we should want them in the mix just the same. The body-on-frame stick axle rear drive configuration was made to freely roam a challenging continent with widely varying roads and climates in comfort. The design evolved to have no Achilles heel. No constant velocity joints to bust or grind. No origami foil to stress, nor subframe hardpoints to bend. No buzzy high rpm engine to annoy you. Plenty of room to stretch out. From the low-zoot Vic to the stealthy Marauder to the Zen of the Lincoln Town Car, Panthers will be the Millenium Falcons of 2050, battered by time but treasured for their die-hard charm. In the meantime, know and miss the CV for what it has been: creamy conveyance for imperturbability in a highly perturbable world.

    Phil

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    In the meantime, know and miss the CV for what it has been: creamy conveyance for imperturbability in a highly perturbable world.

    Phil, such love for the Panther but none of that for the Mercedes CL? All kidding aside, that was very well said.

  • avatar
    213Cobra

    Sajeev,

    Thank-you. I knew someone would bring this up. If the CL63 were the price of a Crown Vic — hell, even a Town Car LWB — I’d forgive its mass and priorities. Similarly, if the Town Car cost, say, $40K more I’d want to see the frame made of hydroformed aluminum, with an aluminum body for some high-tech mass reduction, along with one of Ford’s high-end V8s. In this case, Ford makes old-school inexpensively, and Mercedes fails to deliver enough new school for its price, hence love for the Panther.

    Phil

  • avatar
    IronEagle

    Terry Parkhurst

    I am surprised that you say it is for larger people. I am about 5’9 and drove a 92 ‘vic we had purchased for my sister. I could not believe how such a big car could be so cramped. The power 60/40 seat moved back just enough for me to be barely comfortable. I was also surprised just how little headroom there was. I have to say the interior was packaged really bad in terms of space for me.

    Still sad to see Ford let this along with the Ranger languish especially with all the stupid stuff they were spending all that cash on in the mid-late 90’s.

  • avatar
    Alcibiades

    Some people like the panther platform, some don’t. I happen to love it, and own two, a Grand Marquis and a Town Car. If you don’t like panthers, there is plenty to complain about. If you do like them, there is plenty to like, perhaps to the point of irrationality. When Ford kills the panther, it will be a sad day, and the end of an era that saw the American auto industry at its best–making big, inexpensive, rear wheel drive V8 cars with genuine Yankee attitude. You can’t get it anywhere else, not even in the Chrysler 300 pimp-mobiles.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Phil: MB vs Panther is the same feeling, same attitude…just for people with two shockingly different sized pocketbooks.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Interesting comment you made “Iron Eagle.” All I know is I have a friend who is 6’2″ tall and he loves his 1996 Ford Taurus (for the room) and relishes when he can rent a Crown Victoria for the same reason; he tells me.

    I myself drove the last generation of Mercury Marauder and really enjoyed Phil’s observations. I remember feeling that it was more car than I’d ever use and wondering what the police would think about a fleet of them as “cop cars.”

  • avatar
    213Cobra

    I’m 6’3″ and am pressed to grasp the proportions of a mere 5’9″er feeling cramped in the pilot’s chair of a Panther. But people come in surprising dimensions, so I certainly can’t rule it out. The 500/Taurus certainly has more modern packaging and is designed as a “tall sedan.” On a purely practical level, the newer car’s modernity spotlights the vintage priorities of the Panthers. But it can’t remotely compare for swagger, presence and the veiled menace a CV or Marauder lend to the driver.

    Phil

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    Forget the Crown Vic, just give me a Mercury Marauder. Then again…actually DON’T give me one.

  • avatar
    Maxb49

    Ah, the beautiful Crown Victoria. The best car on the market in America or elsewhere for that manner. Ford took this car and did something the other manufacturers don’t know is good business – the didn’t screw it up. Full size, nice ride, reasonable fuel economy, good handling, and stately design – precisely what a sedan should be at a decent price.

    Anyone who sees this vehicle as the key to Ford’s turnaround needs to check the color of their mood ring and think again.

    I don’t appreciate that comment. Why are you urging Ford to ruin a perfectly fine design.

    maybe they can find something worthy of reinventing as the “new” Crown Victoria. I nominate the Jaguar XJ.

    This is EXACTLY what’s wrong with the car industry. Auto makers have tried to re-invent everything – Chrysler “reinvented” the 300C, the PT cruiser was a reincarnation of old wagons, Chevrolet reinvented old designs with the HHR and the SSR – guess what? They all were MIIIISSSEERRRRAAAABBBLLLLLEEEEE FAILURES. It runs against the grain of logic to try and reincarnate a great concept to begin with. If the original is so good, why do it over again? What you’re doing is reinventing the wheel. Ford has fallen prey to “modern” (read, trendy and forgettable) designs with their Five Hundred, Freestyle, and Fusion. The Crown Victoria fills a market niche for people who treasure this kind of car. Why can’t auto journalists lay off and stop ruining it for everyone who likes these cars?

    P.S. I can only imagine what would come from the pens (or keyboards) of auto journalists if Ford reincarnated the Crown Victoria as the Jaguar XJ. I can hear it now! “Ford placed their Crown Victoria on the outdated Jaguar platform.” That, along with 20,000 comments regarding “badge engineering” will buy you a gallon of gasoline.

  • avatar
    Maxb49

    KnightRT, if it’s a good, comfortable hauler you want, reconsider a minivan.

    Uhhh, no. Minivans suffer from the same problems as SUVs without the 4×4 equipment.

  • avatar
    blautens

    As a former police officer, I spent a lot of time in Crown Vics and Caprices. I also owned a 1996 Impala SS until 2003, and my father has driven Panther platforms for the last 25 years (current ride is a 2003 Grand Marquis, loss leader purchased for about 19K, which is the max anyone should consider spending for these when new).

    I’m 6’4″ and 250 lbs. I base my opinion on a lot of time behind the wheel of multiple Panthers of this current generation, in various seating configurations:

    The Panther platform is simply not as roomy or comfortable for me as any of the Chevy 9C1’s I drove, rating both ingress/egress and interior room – including such annoying features as cup holders that protrude from the dash to lacerate my knee, etc.

    Other similar sized people I know agree. That being said, if someone would park a Marauder in my driveway and leave me the keys, I, as an enthusiast, surely would enjoy the last of a dying breed.

    But Panther packaging efficiency is woefully inadequate, even compared to its now deceased competition (9C1 – RIP 1996), let alone its own brand mates (Ford 500/Taurus). If you could fix that, the rest is relatively easy to address (engine and suspension mods are relatively cheap). To me, in a car with such a massive footprint, if I’m not comfortable getting in and out of it and spending time in it, than surely this platform fails at its intended mission, does it not?

    I had a supervisor that was 6’6″ who had our fleet mechanics bolt the front seat in 2 inches aft of the factory mounts just to make it reasonable – one of the few times I envied rank. They wouldn’t do it for patrol, because once the cage was installed, it left exactly 0 inches for legs in the rear seat.

  • avatar
    86er

    If the 93-96 Caprice had been as readily available as the CV’s of a similar vintage, one of those would now be in my garage instead. But it isn’t. And so it is not.

  • avatar
    mongoose

    We have two of these junks, Police Interceptor models, to patrol the parking facilities of a major University. With all the idling and going up and down the garage ramps, they get 6-7 mpg. Sucks to be a taxpayer.

  • avatar
    86er

    We have two of these junks, Police Interceptor models, to patrol the parking facilities of a major University. With all the idling and going up and down the garage ramps, they get 6-7 mpg. Sucks to be a taxpayer.

    That’s way too much car for its use in this example. Why didn’t the university just purchase Impalas for such light work?

  • avatar
    86er

    Alas, after a quarter-century of Ford continuous improvement the Crown Vic is still on Consumer Reports’ Not Recommended list.

    Actually, the Crown Vic and the Grand Marquis were only recently removed from the Recommended list because, in their words, there are “better options” currently available, i.e. the Five Hundred/Taurus.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    The Crown Vic may not be on the “Consumer Reports” recommended list, but they are at the top of my recommended list.

    That is a better list to me.

  • avatar
    copcarmike

    I am a 30 year old, not a blue haired granny. 2, I work at a Toyota dealership(will come back to this), and 3, I happily own 2 crown victorias. You Sir drive new cars everyday, so to you, maintanance is not an issue. But if you actually had to pay to maintain your OWN vehicle, you would rather enjoy these cars very much. They require NO maintance compaired to lets say a Camry, and when a part needs replacing – the cost is minimal. No hundred dollar CV axles — just 15$ U joints. THese cars are the strongest built, and most reliable cars on the road. You dont see these on tow trucks. They are simple, rugged, reliable, safer than unibody and affordable. I see Japanese cars in the shop everyday, and they cost ALOT to fix. The new Camrys EAT TRANSMISSIONS, squeek and rattle, and are expensive. Crown Vics are the quintessential american Icon. And are built Ford Tough. By the way, try taking a police interceptor onto a road course. VERY IMPRESSIVE. And you can beat on it all day, it wont fail. I know, because my second one is a track car. And its more fun than the WRX I got ride of to have it. 

  • avatar
    csalbertcs

    They’re probably gonna restyle it in 2011…that’s when the Ford Interceptor is coming out. They’re gonna drop the Interceptor name and make it the new Crown Vic. Thats my prediction and I hope it comes true because it has 400 hp, better fuel economy, still a 4000+ pound RWD vehicle, modern independant rear suspension, and it looks cooler. The Ford Interceptor (or 2011 Crown Vic if my predictions are correct) is the future of Ford. The future of fleet, the future of police cars world wide, and the future of old people cars. It might even turn out to be like the Chrysler 300. A big RWD bling bling car.

  • avatar
    petergregos

    Alex Dykes doesn’t say what his two personal cars are, a mini cooper and some other import econo box. He is speaking about the Panther platforms, American automotive classics. These cars are safer and more comfortable than any on the market and for the $26,000 Dykes researched, you can get a heavily loaded luxury Grand Marquis. For the price they are a bargain. Their safety is unquestionable and the body on frame rear wheel drive construction is why they CAN be taxis, limos, and police cars.

    Panther platform cars, Town Cars, Grand Marquis, and Crown Victoria, are the smallest cars I will ever buy or be seen in. They are fabulous vehicles. And my 2004 Mercury Marauder, slightly modified, goes 0-60 in 4.5 seconds…not bad for a 17.6″ land yacht. Go hug a tree and recycle something!

  • avatar
    Todd82TA

    I’d just like to correct a few things. Co-incidentally, I inhereted a 2002 Ford Crown Victoria LX from, well, my grand father. So it WAS my grandfather’s Ford. I kept it though as it has sentimental value, and it only had 14k miles when I got it. I don’t drive it much, but use it for highway trips, etc.

    There’s some mis-information here though. The Crown Victoria is no longer offered to the buying public anyway, and it’s available with more power than stated. At the time when it was available to the public, it could be purchased with the Sport package which had 239 horsepower and over 260 foot pounds of torque. This is often misleading when compared to a Honda Accord sedan that has technically more power than that, but it puts out significantly more torque.

    It’s not a barn burner, but a Sport would typically run mid 15s in the quarter, which is decent for a car that big.

    The platform has actualy been around since 1979, but was redesigned in 2003. I’m not sure exactly what changed in 2003, but I know that almost none of the suspension components are the same.

    The editor is fairly correct on the options. Earlier in it’s life, it had all the creature comforts. In 1995, you could get it with pretty much everything… heated mirrors, heated seats, MEMORY seats, subwoofer, blah blah. These items pretty much all dissapeared after the 2003 model year with only a few of the items remaining.

    Overall, it’s a decent car if you like BIG cars. It’s a solid body on frame design which doesn’t much exist anymore. I towed a 1984 Porsche 944 from Georgia to Fort Lauderdale with my 2002, effortlessly.

    It’s not as “old fashioned” as one would think, but it’s definitely not peak technology. The engine is actually quite efficient, and performs really well for it’s size, and considering the size of the car.

    The best fuel economy I’ve ever received in my 02 Crown Victoria was 28.2 miles to the gallon. (I calculated by filling up completely before my trip, resetting the trip odometer to 0, driving my trip, then filling up when I get back and dividing the miles on the trip odometer with the number of gallons put back into the tank).

    NOTE, current Crown Victorias produce over 250 horsepower, and similar improvements in torque.

  • avatar
    Nebula7

    I’m an owner of a 2003 Gran Marquis, I don’t need the options, I don’t understand why people need a million options to drive them from point A to B, it’s a very respectable car, I get 20mpg city and 32 highway and yes I’m only 18, I love this car and wouldn’t pass it up. Also in 2003 they updated the chassis to a firmer suspension, better torque converter and more power. In 2004, (my father owns) they did a lot of upgrades and it has some get up and go that year when they changed the torque converter again.

  • avatar
    motorhead911

    Saying that the Crown Victoria is only an oldtimers car is completely wrong. Yes, I agree that most of them are owned by elderly folks however, it’s perfect for a teen driver who’s trying to find a cheap ride. Im 17 and I have owned two Crown Victorias (1998 and 2007). While I may be paying more for gas, I haven’t spent a dime at the repair shop. I tried driving my 1998 into the ground but i couldnt do it (this included sending it airborne, crossing bare train tracks at high speeds, thrashing the engine, and throwing it on two wheels around sharp turns). And after i ran it into another car (intentionally) I sold it for $1,000: the price I originally paid for it.

  • avatar
    Al Zaidi

    It’s been 10 years since the original article. A friend’s car died and I wanted to buy them the most reliable, long lasting car $3000 could buy. I bought a 2005 Mercury Marquis with 90,000 miles. No rust. My Mom’s ’92 CV still runs fine, and has only ever had minor repairs.
    Around here in 2017, $3000 will get you a similarly aged V6 Camry or Accord, but with twice the mileage! And the CV/Merc only has a -3 mpg penalty, not too bad in two dollar per gallon gas days.

    And it should be just as reliable and long lasting.

    It’s a dinosaur, but easy to like.

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