1997 FORD CROWN VICTORIA BASE
Used Car - 1997 Ford Crown Victoria Base in Dodge City, Ks
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1997 Ford Crown Victoria ReviewThis car review is specific to this model, not the actual vehicle for sale.
An enduring, endearing tradtional.
If the mere sight of this car makes you think of your local constabulary, there's a good reason. These big cars are the last of a breed--the rear-drive, full-size American V8 sedan--and as such they are the vehicle of choice of law enforcement agencies, as much as for their size and power. Cops need lots of room for their gear, as well as occasional unwilling rear seat passengers who need their space.
The Ford Crown Victoria, and its sibling the Mercury Grand Marquis, represent true values in upscale touring transportation. Each is generously appointed, luxuriously spacious, with a ride well suited to long trips while also being responsive to the throttle.
Law enforcement groups are not the only ones who see value here--so too do folks who transport people for a living. Professional chauffeurs and taxi drivers value these cars because of the ride quality they offer their clients and with an ease of ingress and egress. Not to mention exceptionally rugged durability.
With the demise of the Chevrolet Caprice, the Crown Vic and Grand Marquis are the only surviving members of this once-populous breed. And they promise to be with us into the next century.
The lines are modern, yet conservative. The car looks aerodynamic and for good reason. The coefficient of drag is in the range of most sedans at 0.34. Thus, in spite of substantial curb weights, fuel economy clocks in at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg on the open road, better mileage than most of today's popular sport-utility vehicles.
To carry the SUV comparison a bit further, consider passenger space. Most mid-size sport-utilities can carry a maximum of five passengers, and in most the back seat trio will be cozy to the point of crowding. Depending on the seating arrangement, the Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis offer room and comfort for up to six passengers plus the space in the full-size trunk for bags, baggage, golf clubs or what have you.
The exterior differences between the Crown Victoria and the Grand Marquis are subtle. Since Mercury is slightly more focused than the more generic Ford, the Grand Marquis is a bit more formal. The grille is vertical and dominates the front end. The greenhouse or passenger compartment on the Marquis has a slightly more formal roofline featuring a semi-privacy rear quarter panel whereas the Crown Vic is more open, with glass in the rear quarter. And while the Crown Victoria rolls on blackwall tires, the Grand Marquis comes standard with whitewall tires for an extra touch of formality and tradition.
Both cars are available in two trim levels. For Ford versions' it's either the basic Crown Victoria (from $22,075, including a $605 destination charge), or the Crown Victoria LX (from $23,795). Grand Marquis models include the GS (from $23,099), and LS (from $24,505), latter featuring the greatest number of luxury appointments.
All have a 4.6-liter V6 engine and four-speed automatic transmission. Antilock brakes are optional across the board ($670), but the system includes traction control.
It is easy to maintain your dignity as you gracefully get into, or emerge from, either the Crown Victoria or the Grand Marquis. The door opening is ample and the roofline is high enough so no acrobatics or unusual reaches are required to get in or out. The driver's controls are numerous, commensurate with the features, but they are positioned logically so you won't have to resort to the owner's manual in order to locate or operate any system.
The seats will put many cloth- or leather-covered sofas to shame. Tough devoid of lateral support, they are living-room comfortable, front or rear, with plentiful legroom for all. A tall driver and/or front-seat passenger doesn't require the rear seat passengers to twist sideways to find space for knees and/or feet.
And even at highway speeds, the interior noise level is so low that conversation can easily be carried on between the front and back seat occupants. The interior of the car is so quiet that on rainy days even the click of the windshield wiper motor being engaged intermittently can be heard.
You can opt for either an analog gauge-equipped dash, which is standard, or the optional digital electronic display instrumentation. (Nearly all options are part of packages these days, grouped according to the most frequently paired and ordered items.) Integral to the electronic instrument package is the automatic electronic climate control as well as trip computer.
Ford's corporate 4.6-liter V8, coupled with a four-speed electronic transmission, provides adequate power for easy cruising. If you want a little extra oomph, the optional performance and handling package integrates dual exhausts and thus increases the horsepower by 20, from 190 for the standard engine to 210, a difference that's distinctly tangible.
The performance package also stiffens the suspension somewhat, lending a little more authority to the handling without sacrificing much in the way of ride quality.
A third engine option may be just the ticket for buyers in rural areas. The Crown Victoria can be ordered with the V8 retuned and dedicated to operate on compressed natural gas (CNG). The CNG engine has been reworked to increase the compression ratio from 9.1 to 10.1 for the natural gas version.
There is a performance penalty involved, but it's a small one. The CNG version produces 175 hp at 4500 rpm and 235 pound-feet of torque at 3500 rpm. The carrying capacity of the trunk is also reduced a bit--from 20 cubic feet to 14 --in order to accommodate the four type-2 CNG tanks and their internal solenoid shut-off valving. The spare was also relocated underneath the car to maintain trunk space.
Why CNG? There are two good reasons. First, it's the cleanest-burning of all fossil fuels. Although catalytic converters have all but elminated exhaust emissions in new gasoline cars, there's still that first minute of operation before catalyst light-off.
Second, and perhaps more compelling, natural gas is exceptionally kind to internal combustion engines. Even the newer reformulated gasolines produce corrosive by-products that are absent in CNG, so you can expect a CNG engine to endure indefinitely.
Since this is a factory-produced vehicle (as opposed to an aftermarket conversion) it carries full warranty and service protection, and can be ordered directly through Ford dealerships.
Whichever powerplant option you select, the ride will be smooth, effortless and quiet. And the power available for passing, merging or just cruising the highways and byways will be more than adequate.
While other domestic manufacturers have discontinued this type of car, Ford has pledged to continue to provide these vehicles to the customers--inlcuding police forces and taxi fleets across America--who still appreciate the features and comfort which come with a full-frame platform and V8 power turning the rear wheels.
Comparison shopping, feature for feature, will show you just what a value these all-American cars are as well. Depending upon which model you select and how you option it, the window stickers for Ford's Crown Victoria or Mercury's Grand Marquis will range from about $22,000 to $27,000.
It is, as they say, a lot of car for the money. And you'll probably find the dealership willing to discuss even that reasonable price.
St. Thomas, Ont., Canada.
Options As Tested
Automatic climate control a/c, AM/FM/cassette audio, power front seats, leather seating, keyless remote entry, auto-dim inside mirror, antilock brakes with integrated traction control, performance package.