2003 Crown Victoria New Car Test Drive
For 2003, Ford's largest sedan, the Crown Victoria, may look very similar to last year's offering, but there's been plenty of changes under the skin to keep it technically up to date. Key among them is a new, stiffer chassis that includes front frame sections designed to better absorb crash energy. Handling precision is improved via the adoption of more precise rack-and-pinion steering, plus there's been an extensive redesign of its front and rear suspensions.
Once the most common type of automobile on America's highways, Ford's big rear-wheel-drive Crown Victoria is now something of an anomaly. But Ford's biggest sedan still has significant virtues: affordable V8 performance and room for six people (if configured with a three-abreast front bench seat). It almost sounds odd today, but this sort of car and seating arrangement is what most people drove in the 1950s, during the Eisenhower administration.
Crown Vic's interior and trunk volumes compare well against those of an SUV. Indeed the Crown Victoria offers the largest trunk in its class. Its old-fashioned low seat height doesn't afford today's popular elevated-perspective of the road, but climbing in as effortless as settling into your favorite arm chair). This lowness also pays a noticeable dividend in ride quality over tall, hobby horse SUVs. This is why the Crown Vics are so popular as taxi cabs and police cars.
The Crown Victoria is popular for its impressive safety ratings, easy entry/exit, big windows, pleasant ride quality, quiet interior, confusion-free controls, and adjustable pedals.
The Crown Victoria is available in just one body style, the large four-door sedan. Three versions of the Crown Vic are available, the standard model, the more highly equipped LX, and the sport-oriented LX Sport.
Only one engine is offered, a 4.6-liter V8, but it comes in two states of tune: Standard and LX models get the 224-horsepower version, while the LX Sport gets a higher-tune 239-horsepower version.
Crown Victoria ($23,805) comes standard with air conditioning, ABS, power windows, power door locks (including a remote locking), power mirrors, an eight-way adjustable driver's seat, and an AM/FM stereo/cassette sound system.
Crown Victoria LX ($27,175) adds more standard equipment, such as automatic climate control, cruise control, an integrated in-dash CD player, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, power-adjustable pedals, and alloy wheels.
LX Sport ($28,795) gets firmer suspension tuning, beefy P235/55HR17 tires on special five-spoke alloy wheels, a lower-ratio rear axle for quicker acceleration, dual exhausts, leather-trimmed front bucket seats with floor-mounted shifter, an armrest/central storage compartment with twin cup holders, a mini-storage bin below the center of the dash, and a monochrome exterior appearance.