Piston Slap: Mali-blewin' Over Tight Panther Legroom?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap mali blewin over tight panther legroom

Joshua writes:

I am coming out of the throes of a mid-life crisis that caused me to replace a workable Mazda 5 several years ago with a sleek-looking Honda Civic coupe. Now that my boys are getting older, rear space room in the Honda is starting to become an issue, so I am looking to trade off the Honda for something with lots of rear seat space for hauling around the family, friends and clients.

After doing research, the two most viable candidates seem to be a 2012 Chevy Malibu LTZ with a V6 or a 2011 Crown Vic. Both would be about the same cost — $14 to 15k — and both would have about the same mileage — 35k. The last gen Malibu seems to be the only mid-sized sedan in my price range that actually has rear seat leg room sufficient for a 6 foot tall adult. It has more room than the last gen Impala, which I had originally looked at, but ruled out once I sat in the back of one with my knees jammed into seat back.

I have always wanted a Crown Vic or Mercury Grand Marquis, however, and now my living situation has changed such that I have a garage big enough to fit one. I also realize this will be my last chance to buy a low mileage Panther. So I am unsure of which car is the right fit.

Besides the looks, one of the reasons I bought the Honda was for the gas mileage. I commute 50 miles roundtrip to work each day in Southern California, so the 30 mpg it gets during that commute has been helpful. I am also used to the size of the Honda when maneuvering into parking spots and changing lanes on the freeway.

Given this, I have a feeling that the smaller Malibu might be less of shock to get used to when driving. I presume that mileage would be a non-issue, i.e., both the Crown Vic and Malibu will obviously get worse mileage than the Honda, but the difference between the Crown Vic and the Malibu with the V6 will be negligible, maybe a couple miles per gallon difference, and not enough to factor into the decision.

So, any thoughts that might help me out on my decision? Differences in reliability, etc.? Will I think I’m driving a big lumbering truck if i choose the Crown Vic? I haven’t driven one in 15 years, and that was my grandmother’s I would run errands in, so I don’t have a solid recollection of what it would be like as a daily driver. Thanks for your help on this one.

Sajeev answers:

Before we bore all the Panther Haters on this blog, let’s consider this: the Crown Vic’s rear leg room isn’t great, much less class leading. But 39.6 inches is greater than 37.6 inches. However, neither of your choices is ideal. Perhaps you should consider the Toyota Camry? It has a couple inches more, ya know.

Did I really just recommend a Camry over Panther Love? Shut ‘yo mouth!

So anyway, the Crown Vic is the obvious choice. Just go drive one. You like? Then you won’t regret.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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2 of 109 comments
  • Slantsixbuzzinaway Slantsixbuzzinaway on Sep 10, 2013

    I have owned two 92 panthers, paid $50 bucks cash for each, and did my own repairs, racking up a combined 120k+ miles between the two. Great bang for the buck. Have done many repairs though the engines and transmissions have been great. I would not recommend a 90's vintage to someone without mechanical inclinations. Limited slip with snow tires makes short work of Minnesota winters, but Minnesota winters make short work of old panthers(brake lines in particular)... A late panther with low miles.. I do drool over that. But now since I got a 2000 Impala LS for scrap price with bad cv axles and shot rear brakes(which I have replaced), I am likely not going to go back to my panthers, MGM is gone, the CV may get sold. The fuel economy of the 3800 series II(Impala) is 28 highway, I usually got 23 highway with the old panthers max(once I got 25mpg). Get the Malibu, the fuel savings will be worth it imo.

  • -Nate -Nate on Sep 10, 2013

    I really enjoy reading all the Panther Love comments . \ Right near me is a weedy lot with 7 or 8 cars in it , always carefully covered with fitted covers . Yesterday as I was riding my vintage Honda CL90 by , three of them had been moved and had the covers off ~ three Panthers all clean and shiny in a row ~ a Taxi , a Radio Car and a Black Limo ~ I suddenly realized I knew the shapes of all those covered cars : PANTHERS ! . I don't know if this is a private collection or they guy is renting them out (very common here) to the Movie Industry . -Nate