1995 FORD CROWN VICTORIA
Used Car - 1995 Ford Crown Victoria in Antioch, Ca
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1995 Ford Crown Victoria ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
Comfort and value in a big package.
Huge rear-drive sedans used to dominate America's highways. Today, this once-plentiful species has dwindled to just a few domestic nameplates: the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis, and two offerings from General Motors: the Chevrolet Caprice and the Buick Roadmaster.
As a class, they've moved from commonplace to niche, selling steadily but moderately to people who still appreciate their roominess and view their dimensions as a safety plus. Conservatively styled, their objective is to provide comfort, convenience and value in a big package built for highway cruising.
But for 1995, an interior overhaul of the Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis gives Ford an edge on its GM competition. The thoughtful, handsome new interior is the best in its class.
A walk around the Crown Victoria has always been a long trip. It received a rounded look in 1992, with the kind of curves that can visually minimize a 212-in. vehicle but can't change the fact that this is still one big car. Exterior changes for 1995 fall mostly into the category of further refinement: smoother front and rear bumpers, new taillamps, and body-colored side mirrors and body moldings to clean up the look.
A major functional change is a new aluminum trunk lid with a lip that extends down to the bumper. The shift to aluminum eliminated 19 pounds (if only it were that easy for all of us). The new lip widens access to the trunk and lowers the liftover height, theoretically easing the task of getting heavy objects into or out of the trunk.
We say theoretically because, unfortunately, the trunk is as deep as the Grand Canyon. Lifting a heavy bag out of the bottom would be a considerable exercise for some. The trunk's volume is in its height; front-to-back depth is only average. And rather than having a convenient flat floor, it drops between the wheel wells into a sunken pit.
Our Crown Victoria LX test car came with the dual-exhaust 210-hp 4.6-liter V8, providing 20 more horsepower than the standard single-exhaust version of the same V8. This is considerably less than the Buick Roadmaster's 260-hp 5.7-liter V8, although equal to the base 200-hp 4.3-liter V8 on the Caprice. (You can option the Caprice up to the 5.7-liter V8, however.)
Ford's engine was equal to its task, but if horsepower is important, check out the GMs. The Crown Victoria's fuel economy is rated at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, typical for this class, but we observed closer to 14 mpg around town.
The point of a car like this is comfort, and the interior is critical to this. Here, the news is all good for the Crown Victoria.
Your first impression is of a clean, modern space. The new dashboard has a minimum number of pieces, reducing clutter. And the pieces are all well matched in color despite the differences in material - no easy task. This monochromatic look pleases the eye and makes the interior seem airy and spacious.
A well-thought-out rearrangement has placed important controls in more logical locations. Because low-fuss electronic automatic temperature control is standard this year, the controls have been moved down, and the radio, which you fiddle with far more, has been moved up.
The radio for '95 has - hallelujah - an all-new design. Ford has suffered for years with radios cluttered with tiny buttons. The new P100 faceplate is larger and simpler, with appealingly rounded edges. Our test car came with the high-line JBL Audio System with digital signal processing: With the touch of a button, you can alter music tone to sound as if it's coming from venues as diverse as tiny jazz clubs or massive stadiums.
Other controls have migrated intelligently. The knobs for the optional 6-way power seats (with two memory settings) for driver and front passenger are now high on the door panel rather than low and out of the way on the side of the seat. Release buttons for the fuel-filler door and the trunk are also on the door panel. The trunk release is lockable for occasions when you want a little extra security, such as when you hand your car over to valet parking.
Other new standard items: a 12-volt power point located on the floor for cellular phones and the like, a battery saver that cuts power if a light has been left on inadvertently, a radio antenna embedded in the rear window and heated side mirrors.
The all-new seats provide plenty of width if not much side support. But they are back-friendly and the increased fore-and-aft track travel - now 10 in. - makes entering and exiting easy.
Indeed, the entire interior is aimed at comfort. New grab handles are found throughout the car, height-adjustable seatbelts will be appreciated by many, and solar-tinted glass cuts down effectively on glare and heat.
One option we would have liked is Ford's integrated child safety seat - an excellent option, particularly since Ford's seat belts require an awkward locking clip for child seats.
From the driver's seat of a Crown Victoria, you feel like master of all you survey. The hood curves away unobtrusively so you aren't aware you have a small aircraft carrier deck in front of you. There is excellent visibility all around, thanks in part to a rear quarter window, which opens up the view for backing up.
The sense of security felt in a car like this is one of its most important features. Thanks to its size, and the fact that most full-size sedan drivers aren't out to establish their credentials as racers, the Crown Victoria's injury frequency rates are among the lowest of any car on the road.
Grand isolation from noise and vibration is the goal, and the Crown Victoria achieves it well. The V8/rear-drive package is inherently one of the quietest available, and a few changes in the 4-speed transmission and gear ratios for '95 make the powertrain even quieter.
The ride is traditional, which is to say soft. Even in our test car, equipped with the Handling and Performance package (revised springs and shocks, 16-in. wheels, and rear air suspension), there was body roll with any quick maneuver.
Around town, even moderate braking set our test car bobbing up and down. However, the optional anti-lock brakes (ABS) inspired confidence in all situations, wet or dry.
On the highway - this car's natural home - the soft suspension is much more acceptable. It absorbs all the bumps, delivering a predictable, if slightly slow, response.
Our test car's speed-sensitive power steering felt excessively light at low speeds, but provided adequate feel on the freeway. The car was also equipped with the optional Handling and Performance package, which helps correct the tendency of a rear-drive car to wag its tail on slippery surfaces - important when winter gets a grip on the highways.
These are cars that younger buyers love to hate, but if you accept the size and the softness, the Crown Victoria is a remarkably good car - and an undisputed good value. Fully loaded, the Crown Victoria LX is only a little more expensive than a fully loaded Taurus LX.
Yet the Crown Victoria de-livers far more space, comfort and the smooth, effortless power that goes with a V8 engine. There's no getting around the size, but traditional sedan buyers view this as a safety asset, and statistics back them up.
We'd prefer to see ABS provided as a standard feature, as it is on the Caprice. And a better handling package, like that in the Impala SS, might broaden the Crown Victoria's appeal.
Still, this is a thoughtful, competent sedan that can soak up a lot of highway miles.