Ford's biggest passenger car and its Mercury Grand Marquis twin are the last of a genre that was once mainstream: the full-size, V-8 powered rear-drive family sedans. With the exception of some luxury vehicles, the full-size segment is now dominated by front-drive rivals.
The Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis are built on the same platform as the Lincoln Town Car, which has different styling and larger dimensions. The separate body-chassis design dates to the 1979 Ford LTD.
Both the Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis sell more than 100,000 units per year, but two-thirds of Ford's business is fleet sales, primarily as police cars and taxicabs. Ford says the Crown Vic corners 85 percent of the market for police pursuit vehicles in the United States and Canada.
The conservatively tailored Crown Vic has a 114.7-inch wheelbase and is 212 inches overall, a foot longer than the Buick LeSabre, a front-drive rival. Styling is the same as the Grand Marquis' except for a different grille, taillamps and exterior trim.
Tall, wide doors allow easy entrance and exit, and with bench seats front and rear, the Crown Vic holds six people. Middle passengers, however, have to straddle a large driveshaft tunnel and don't get the same cushy seating as outboard occupants. The front seat is a split bench with a folding center armrest.
Cargo volume is a cavernous 20.6 cubic feet, though much of it is in a deep well that is awkward to reach.
Under the Hood
You want V-8 power in a family sedan? This is where to find it. The standard engine is a 4.6-liter V-8 with 200 horsepower. An optional handling package includes a firmer suspension, touring tires and a dual exhaust system that boosts horsepower to 215.
A four-speed automatic transmission and anti-lock brakes also are standard. Traction control is optional.
Several full-size front-drive sedans offer about as much room and similar acceleration (with V-6 engines), and they come wrapped in more contemporary styling. The Crown Vic and Grand Marquis, however, offer rear-drive traditionalists competent and reasonably priced alternatives.