Introduction

The Mercury Grand Marquis is one of the last surviving rear-wheel-drive, V8-powered full-size cars built on a separate frame. Its ostensible competitors, Buick LeSabre, Chrysler Concorde, Pontiac Bonneville and Toyota Avalon, are all more modern in concept, with front-wheel drive, V6 engines, shorter wheelbases and unitbody construction.

However, the Grand Marquis offers almost all the comfort and convenience of the Lincoln Town Car for a price less than that of a near-luxury mid-size car.

And while the Grand Marquis has been criticized by driving enthusiasts for being way too conservative, that could change very soon as Mercury prepares to launch the Marauder version of the car with 300 horsepower, a floor-mounted shifter, sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch high-performance tires.

For 2002, Grand Marquis arrives with standard antilock brakes and traction control; fold-away, power-adjustable and heated outside mirrors, and a storage pouch that's sewn into the driver's seat. A new trunk cargo organizer is optional on all models as well.

Model Lineup

Grand Marquis comes in GS, LS and LSE trim levels.

GS ($23,645) has a 220-horsepower, 4.6-liter V8 engine, automatic transmission, seating for six and many comfort features. The GS Convenience version ($24,065) adds power adjustable pedals for the driver and remote keyless entry.

LS Premium ($27,120) adds automatic climate control, HomeLink garage door opener, rear reading lights, automatic-dimming mirrors, body side moldings, dual front seats with 8-way power for the driver and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. LS Ultimate ($28,300) comes with a rear air suspension, electronic instrumentation, an upgraded audio system, and controls for speed, audio, and climate on the steering wheel.

LSE ($28,625) has a different rear axle, a more powerful 235-horsepower engine, dual exhaust, sports suspension settings, including the rear air suspension, leather seats and special wheels and tires.

Options include leather seats ($995), a single CD player ($140), and a six-CD changer ($140). (Packages and pricing varies for buyers in California and Hawaii.)

Walkaround

Mercury's Grand Marquis a big, roomy car. It boasts a curb weight of more than 3900 pounds, a 114-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 212 inches.

Buyers concerned about safety will appreciate the heft, as bigger cars tend to be safer in collisions than smaller cars. The size of the Grand Marquis, as well as a new frame design that was part of the 1999 model year overhaul, helped it earn a five-star rating in government front and rear crash tests.

The Grand Marquis was restyled for 1999 with a new and more vertical grille, new complex-reflector headlamps and new tail lamps.

Interior Features

Sit down in the Grand Marquis and you'll be treated to huge, thick seats as comfortable as an old pair of shoes. The Grand Marquis retains that big-car feel many of us grew up with. The interior is spacious, with plenty of room for long legs, broad shoulders and gangly arms, and it will comfortably seat six adults. The Grand Marquis provides more front and rear headroom than a Buick LeSabre.

Despite the car's size, there's enough fore-aft seat adjustment to accommodate the petite. This is true even without the adjustable pedals, and with them, small drivers should find an even greater range of comfort.

Like many bench seats, the units in the Grand Marquis are made for cruising cross-country, and won't hold you in place in sharp corners. One minor annoyance: The hump running down the center of the floor for the driveshaft reduces foot space for anyone sitting in the center. It is the single largest drawback in the Grand Marquis' rear-drive design.

Rear-seat roominess and comfort are at the top of the class. Trunk capacity is rated at nearly 21 cubic feet. Fit and finish inside the car are superb, and the choice of materials is excellent.

All controls and instruments are arrayed in a logical, intuitive, and spacious manner; nothing seems out of place.

Driving Impressions

The Grand Marquis' 4.6-liter single overhead-cam V8 is one of the best engines Ford has ever built in terms of quality and durability. It is smooth and quiet, yet delivers strong acceleration with plenty of power for quick passing. It features a coil-on-plug ignition system that is simple and reliable. Thanks largely to its strong V8, Grand Marquis is rated to tow 2000 pounds.

The transmission delivers smooth, precise, quick shifts. Like many transmissions on the market today, it requires no maintenance for the life of the car.

Grand Marquis offers a smooth, quiet ride. It is stable at high speeds and in crosswinds. Better yet, with the suspension alterations made in 1999, this is the best-handling big Mercury we've ever driven. Mercury engineers refined the Grand Marquis in 1999 to produce a car that rides and handles better than its predecessor. The rear trailing arms were redesigned and relocated to provide better control of vertical wheel motions. A three-piece Watt's link was added; it provides more precise lateral location than would be possible with the single-piece Panhard rod or track bar usually used in live-axle setups.

The car does float over undulating pavement, though not at uncomfortable levels. The steering is a bit light at higher speeds, but the power assist makes it easy to maneuver the big car in crowded parking lots.

Braking performance is surprisingly good for such a large car. The brakes were enlarged and upgraded for 1999 as well, with larger, thicker rotors and dual-piston calipers on the front discs. Those changes improved braking performance and reduced the chance of brake fade when descending steep mountain grades. Steel 16-inch wheels are standard, while aluminum alloy wheels are optional. Standard tires are P225/60R-16 all-season Michelins.

We found our Grand Marquis to be a pleasure to drive on a winding road. The rear air suspension and 16-inch alloy wheels with Goodyear high-performance tires contributed to this feeling.

Summary

Mercury's Grand Marquis is a wonderful sedan for covering a lot of territory on wide-open North American highways. With its body-on-frame construction, smooth V8, and rear-wheel drive, this car separates you and your companions from noise and intrusions caused by the road surface, but it doesn't totally disengage you from the driving experience. The steering and suspension work well to deliver competent ride quality and handling.

 


Model Line Overview

Model lineup: GS Base ($23,645); GS Convenience ($24,065); LS Premium ($27,120); LS Ultimate ($28,300); LSE ($28,625)
Engines: 220-hp 4.6-liter sohc 16-valve V8 (235-hp with dual exhaust in the SE)
Transmissions: 4-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard): dual airbags with personal safety system, seat-belt pre-tensioners
Safety equipment (optional): N/A
Basic warranty: 3 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in: St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): Grand Marquis LS Ultimate ($28,300)
Standard equipment: power steering, power brakes, power mirrors, tinted glass, power locks, anti-theft system, tilt steering column, power windows, remote keyless entry, rear window defrost, electronic instrumentation, premium audio system, rear air suspension, antilock brakes, traction control, cast aluminum wheels, automatic climate control, power passenger seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto-dim mirror with compass, electronic instrumentation, power adjustable pedals
Options as tested (MSRP): CD changer ($350); leather seats ($995)
Destination charge: ($680)
Gas guzzler tax: N/A
Price as tested (MSRP): $ 30,325
Layout: front-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine: 4.6-liter sohc 16-valve V8
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 220 @ 4750
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 265 @ 4000
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 18/25 mpg
Wheelbase: 114.7 in.
Length/width/height: 211.9/78.2/56.8 in.
Track, f/r: 63.4/65.3 in.
Turning circle: 40.3 ft.
Seating capacity: 6
Head/hip/leg room, f: 39.4/58.0/42.5 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m: N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r: 38.1/58.7/38.4 in.
Trunk volume: 20.6 cu. ft.
Payload: N/A
Towing capacity: 2000 Lbs.
Suspension, f: Independent
Suspension, r: live axle
Ground clearance: N/A
Curb weight: 3973 lbs.
Tires: P225/60R16
Brakes, f/r: disc/disc with ABS
Fuel capacity: 19.0 gal.

 

 

Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of September 10, 2001.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-392-3673 - www.lincolnmercury.com

Copyright © 1994-2003 New Car Test Drive, Inc.


 

New Car Test Drive

Copyright © 1994-2009 New Car Test Drive, Inc.

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