2003 Lincoln Town Car
This 2003 review is representative of model years 2003 to 2011.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.