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1997 Lincoln Town Car Cartier Edition Review

by John Heilig


SEE ALSO: Lincoln Buyer's Guide

1997 Lincoln Town Car Cartier Edition SPECIFICATIONS

ENGINE:            4.6-liter V-8
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 210hp @4250rpm/275 lb-ft @3250 rpm
TRANSMISSION:      Four-speed automatic
FUEL ECONOMY:      17 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, 18.7 mpg test
WHEELBASE:         117.4 in.
OVERALL LENGTH:    218.9 in.
OVERALL HEIGHT:    56.9 in.
OVERALL WIDTH:     76.7 in.
CURB WEIGHT:       4040 lbs 
FUEL CAPACITY:     20.0 gal.
LUGGAGE CAPACITY:  22.3 cu. ft.
TIRES:             225/60R16
INSTRUMENTS:       Speedometer, fuel level, water temperature, 
                   fuel management computer, compass, digital 
EQUIPMENT:         Power windows, power door locks, 
                   power mirrors, cruise control, 
                   air conditioner, AM-FM stereo radio with 
                   cassette, anti-lock braking, dual air bags.
STICKER PRICE:     $44,785

When General Motors abandoned the large rear-wheel-drive luxury car market in 1997, it left it pretty much open to Ford. The leader of the big Fords is the Lincoln Town Car.

Our tester this week is a Cartier Edition of the Town Car. I have to tell you, the exterior paint is ivory pearlescent and the interior was prairie tan leather. This was a color combination that drove me insane because I loved it so much. The cream exterior is just slightly off-white, while the white leather interior is perfectly in keeping with a car of this class.

Town Car is powered by a 4.6-liter V-8 that is rated at 210 horsepower. It drives the rear wheels through a four-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is pretty decent, even for the big engine and car. We averaged over 18 miles per gallon for our test. Granted, the bulk of our traveling was on Interstates, but that's still a decent number.

The Town Car has all the features you'd want in a luxury car, including those leather seats, all power accessories, an excellent sound system and HVAC system, and plenty of legroom front and rear.

Our primary trip with the Town Car was to Maryland to our regular halfway stop to transfer our daughter from our car to her husband's when she came home for a wedding and he had to work. We discovered when we arrived that we were about a half hour earlier than we had ever been before. This meant that we must have been speeding somewhere along the way, but it certainly wasn't noticeable. We had to use the cruise control to keep the speed down to non-ticket levels.

The ride was also made in great comfort. There were three of us in the car with a trunk crammed full of assorted goodies. The trunk capacity is over 22 cubic feet, which makes it the largest sedan trunk in the industry. It was a pleasure not to have to try to force objects to fit in there, as we do with most cars. It was almost like driving a stylish minivan.

Susan had enormous legroom in the rear. When she wanted to get some work done, she was able to flip down an overhead vanity mirror that provided light and didn't disturb the driver. We've seen similar arrangements in other large cars and applaud them. They give rear seat occupants the chance to read or work. Some others also have rear reading lights, but this is another alternative.

Cruise and sound system switches were on the steering wheel and were not lighted. One feature I liked about the Town Car was that most of the convenience switches were lighted. The small steering wheel had a small air bag in the center. One problem we had was that we often switched off the cruise control accidentally when we hit the switches. A better location might have been chosen.

Door switches--on the driver's side for power mirrors and door locks, heated seats, power window and power seat controls--were lit. This lighting was unobtrusive and you really didn't notice them until you went looking for them. But you didn't have to grope around in the dark to find them. A quick glance told you where the mirror switch was, for example, and you could make the adjustment. On the passenger door the door lock and seat controls were also lighted.

The Lincoln Town Car is what you'll buy if you want a full-sized luxury car. If you're switching from one of the General Motors brands, you're probably not going to be disappointed. The Town Car is a solid, well-riding car that handles well and provides exactly the level of luxury that one would expect for $45,000.