2007 Lincoln Town Car

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2003 Lincoln Town Car

This 2003 review is representative of model years 2003 to 2011.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

Lincoln's Town Car gets a major freshening for 2003, with styling that returns to a more formal look, a suspension that's revised for a still-soft, yet more managed ride and new features that make this big car more comfortable.
Pros:
  • A return to more formal styling
  • Suspension improvements bring better handling
  • Oh-so-roomy back seat, especially in L trims
Cons:
  • Still some floaty sensations
  • No head restraint for middle person in back
  • Some features not offered

Never underestimate elderly parents or, for that matter, grandma and grandpa.

Retirees with the average age of 70 are loyal buyers of Lincoln's Town Car, finding this large sedan the perfect ride for long trips to Florida, golf outings and evenings with friends.

"They are the youngest 70-year-olds that ever lived," said Mike Reed, Town Car vehicle engineering manager. "They are physically fit, have active lives. They have a social life you and I aspire to have. They have time to golf. They have time to go out to dinner, and they're the first ones to say, `I'll drive.'"

Who cares if the Town Car doesn't qualify as a hot seller in today's sport utility-crazed market? Who cares if the Town Car is derided by the young as a "big boat?"

Seniors know the Town Car offers an amazing amount of room, safety, traditional rear-wheel-drive handling, V8 power and comfort for people whose bodies don't have the same flexibility and agility they once did.

And now, with the early introduction of the 2003 Town Car, buyers also get more formal styling, a revised suspension, quieter interior and more safety and comfort features.

Big car with big trunk
"Town Car customers can buy whatever they please, and their priorities are room, ride, comfort and safety," said Rick Brisson, Town Car brand manager. Indeed, the more than 17.5-foot-long Town Car is all about room. It already had the largest trunk in its class— perfect for suitcases and golf bags of all sizes. You don't have to organize them or sort them; they seem to fit back there without fuss.

Now, access to the Town Car's 21-cubic-foot trunk is improved, thanks to a wider trunk opening in the 2003 and the fact the mini-spare tire that used to intrude from a back shelf in the trunk is repositioned.

Inside, the Town Car's 45.8 inches of legroom in the front seat and minimum 41.1 inches in the back seat— 46.96 inches in the Town Car long-wheelbase trims— are noteworthy. In contrast, the Cadillac DeVille has 42.4 inches of front legroom and 43.2 inches in the back, according to Cadillac.

Likewise, the Town Car's front-seat hip room of 57.3 inches surpasses that of the DeVille and Lexus LS 430.

Movie star exit from rear seat
My test car was the Town Car Cartier L, the longest factory-produced Town Car with a wheelbase that's 6 inches longer than that of a regular Town Car. I couldn't resist trying out what it's like to get inside and out of that huge back seat.

The first thing I noticed was how long the rear doors are, and how wide the door openings are. Gosh, two people could probably fit in this car doorway!

Once inside the Town Car, I felt like I was lounging, there was so much room. I could slouch without worrying about my knees getting anywhere near the front seatback. I could cross my legs with ease.

Rear-seat headroom of 37.6 inches, though, is less than the 38.3 inches in the DeVille. And there's still no head restraint for the middle rider in the back seat of the Town Car.

But this was all forgotten as I gathered myself to get out of the back seat of the Town Car. There's just so much room in the doorway and the car sits nicely close to the ground compared with SUVs. My exit from this car was as gracious as any I've ever had from an auto. No wonder movie stars exiting from Lincoln limos look so glamorous!

Formality returns to styling
Thankfully, the overall styling of this new Town Car is more formal than that of its predecessor. The grille is bolder, with more chrome, and stands more upright than before. Rear taillights are bigger, helping to provide a more squared-off look vis-a-vis the rounded, less formal styling of the previous Town Car.

In fact, the new car reminds me a lot of earlier Town Cars which were instantly recognizable and looked pretty decent as stretched limos, too. I never thought rounded styling for a Town Car made it as good-looking when stretched for a longer-length limo.

Visible hood ornament back
Even the stand-up Lincoln hood ornament is back for 2003, and I am thankful. Because the Town Car's hood is so long, I use the ornament to help me gauge how close the Town Car is to the vehicle in front of me at stoplights. I'm sure other drivers do, too.

Note the new tires and wheels on the 2003 Town Car. They're larger— standard tires are 17-inchers now vs. 16-inchers in the 2002 Town Car. Wheels are bolder-looking, too.

Big news is suspension, steering
Despite the Town Car's reputation as a "big boat" with a floaty ride, the 2003 Town Car conveys a less floaty sensation than its predecessor. No guffaws, please.

Sure, the car still keeps most road bumps from riders and provides a noticeably cushioned ride. Steering doesn't take a lot of effort, either, especially in slower-speed city driving.

But the 2003 Town Car also handles better on two-lane roads, where wandering is minimized now, and in mountain curves, where body sway is better managed.

Improvements come from a new frame, new front suspension and new steering system.

Brakes are more powerful, too, but I still found myself squeezing hard on the brake pedal in the final seconds before a stop as I'd suddenly realize I wasn't slowing this big, 4,467-pound car as quickly as I had thought.

Same engine, more power
The 2003 Town Car has the 4.6-liter single overhead cam V8 that was in the predecessor.

But it makes more power now — 239 horsepower vs. 220 in the 2002 Town Car. Torque is up 22 lb-ft to 287 at 4100 rpm.

It's more than adequate to get the new Town Car up and moving quickly. I launched out of a parking lot and into traffic, yet easily managed to keep ahead of the oncoming cars, for example.

Shifts from the four-speed automatic transmission are smooth most of the time. There was a sharp jerk when the accelerator was depressed hard for a bit, as if the driver wanted quick acceleration, then released suddenly.

But despite the increased engine power, I didn't hear a lot of engine noise while inside the Town Car. The exception was when I had the pedal to the metal. Then, the deep sounds of a V8 at work would come through. They're newly tuned for a more pleasant sound this year, too.

Fuel economy isn't bad for a car this big that can carry up to six passengers. The 2003 Town Car, which comes with a four-speed automatic transmission, is rated at 17 miles a gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

No private conversations
Special detail to insulation keeps most sounds— noisy trucks and blaring radios, for example— away from riders and makes the Town Car interior quieter than before. In fact, it's difficult to have a private conversation in the front seat. My rear-seat passenger heard everything I said, even when I was speaking in quite low conversational tones.

The previous Town Car received five star ratings for both driver and front-passenger in U.S. government's front-crash tests. Lincoln officials expect the 2003 model to also "perform well."

The Town Car includes both analog and digital speedometer readings on the dashboard, which can help older drivers quickly see their speed.

A new park assist system is a great help in parking this big car. The system uses both ultrasonic and radar sensors to let a driver know if an obstacle is back there, as much as 15 feet away, when the car is in reverse gear.

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BB05 - 9/23/2014 11:37:45 AM