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2003 Lincoln Town Car

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San Francisco: I can't say I was eager to test the new Lincoln Town Car. Sure, like a good auto journalist I'll try anything and give my honest opinion, but the Town Car? That's a car for my parents' generation.

As it turns out, the average Town Car buyer is fiercely loyal – 60 percent are repeat buyers and 65 percent won't even look at anything else. Three quarters of Town Car customers are retired, but they still have relatively high household incomes. No surprise since the average age of buyers is 70 years old.

I was expecting a huge, comfortable car and I was not disappointed when my Silver Birch Clearcoat Metallic Town Car came into view. The Town Car has received substantial upgrades for 2003, but it still shows the long, opulent look it has worn for decades. The grille has more chrome this year, and the hood, fenders, and quarter panels are revised. The tail end styling got tweaked too, with a higher trunk line. And to the joy of many, the classic hood ornament is back!

The interior retains its massive sofa rear seat and generously proportioned front bench with room for a center front passenger, if three couples want to go bowling. The armrests are wide, and the dash, big as a tree trunk, is half covered in walnut burl appliqué.

The steering wheel sports two fat spokes filled with handy buttons for the cruise control and the audio system. At 132.9 cubic feet, the interior volume rivals that of my first apartment, but it is much more nicely furnished.

Lincoln sells the Town car in three levels - nice, very nice, and exquisite. Represented in ascending order by the Executive, Signature, and Cartier series. The Executive and Cartier are also available in "L" models, which have a six-inch longer wheelbase and offer more rear legroom than any other car on the road today at 47 inches. These cars are not stretched versions, but are built extra long from scratch. My test Lincoln was a Cartier L, and believe me you could go camping in the back seat area.  

The Executive is the starter level Lincoln, favored by commercial customers. About 25 percent of Town Car sales are Executive models, as Lincoln supplies three quarters of the limousine market. Prices start at $41,040.

The Signature is the middle range, and accounts for just over half of all Town Car acquisitions. The Cartier models reside at the top, with Cartier badging and every imaginable feature tucked into the mix. One out of five Town Car buyers takes a Cartier model home. Signatures start at $45,015, Cartiers begin at $46,010, and the Cartier L tops out at $51,470.

It could almost be easier to list what isn't in the Cartier L than what is in it. There is no back porch or hot tub, for example. As an automobile nothing appears to be missing, except a navigation system. In every Town Car there is power running the windows, mirrors, doors, and seats. The dual-zone automatic climate control lets front passengers select their own temperature and fan settings. Rear seat passengers get vanity mirrors that fold down from the ceiling. The headlamps turn on at dusk all by themselves.

Of course, the Signature and Cartier models get lots of extras, like a wood and leather steering wheel and a memory system that recalls the seat, mirror, and adjustable pedal settings for two drivers. The rear seat amenities package adds redundant audio and climate controls, extra lighters and ashtrays, and controls to move the front passenger seat forward or backward. In the Cartier L the rear seats are even heated.

My favorite feature of all though is the automatically opening and closing trunk lid. Push a button on the remote control key fob and the trunk opens completely. Push it again and, even more surprising, it closes itself tight with an electric whir. That trunk, with 21.1 cubic feet of storage, has a 7.8-inch wider opening this year for easier loading and unloading.

Another worthwhile feature is the delicate chime that sounds if you leave the turn signal on for more than half a mile. It is a fine reminder, but it won't do much for drivers who can't hear the turn signal itself.

Driving the Town Car was a big surprise. Thanks to a thorough redoing of the car's frame, steering, brakes, and front suspension, the handling is remarkably controlled and precise, while the comfort is greater than ever.

Despite incredible isolation from the road, the Town Car doesn't handle like anything nautical. Its 239-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 pulls nicely in nearly perfect silence. And, miracle of miracles, the Government rates the fuel consumption for this aircraft carrier of cars at 17 city, 25 highway. That's on regular gas too.

The numerous changes wrought to the Lincoln under the body are extremely important. The new rack and pinion steering brings the feel of a smaller, lighter car. The boxed section frame rains are lighter, stronger, and more uniform than the welded steel channels of old. The noise and vibration reduction is welcome, even in an already quiet car.

While no one would mistake the Lincoln for anything out of Germany, Japan, or Sweden, the traditional floaty ride and over assisted controls are history. Now someone half the age of the target demographic can enjoy driving a Town Car, while the true believers can buy the size, looks, and comfort that has kept them loyal for so long. By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco

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Byline:  Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name:  The classic hood ornament is back!
Topic:  2003 Lincoln Town Car
Word Count:   984
Photo Caption:  2003 Lincoln Town Car
Photo Credits:  Lincoln Internet Media
Series #:   2003 - 12

Download the Microsoft Word version here:   2003 Lincoln Town Car

Download the original image file here:  2003 Lincoln Town Car 54k








Publisher - Editor:   Tony Leopardo
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