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New Car/Review



By Matt/Bob Hagin


Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 23,925
Price As Tested                                    $ 27,350
Engine Type              SOHC 16-valve 4.6 Liter V8 w/SMFI*
Engine Size                                 281 cid/4601 cc
Horsepower                                   215 @ 4500 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               285 @ 3000 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  114.7"/78.2"/212.0"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     3742 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  19.0 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                        P225/60TRX16 all season
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
Drive Train                   Front-engine/rear-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                        Six-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content                                 80 percent       
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.37


EPA Economy, miles per gallon
city/highway/average                               21/27/23          
0-60 MPH                                        8.0 seconds
1/4 (E.T.)                          16.5 seconds @ 84.5 mph
Top speed                                           110 mph

* Sequential multi-point fuel injection

When the Crown Victoria was introduced in 1979, it was an upscale version of Ford's big LTD sedan according to Bob Hagin. Matt Hagin says that the design is getting pretty old and so is its customer base.

BOB -When Ford presented the Crown Victoria label 20 years ago, it was actually resurrecting a name that it had used in the mid-'50s on a gussied-up top-of-the-line Fairlane two-door. Ironically, that antique shares a lot of features with its successor of today. The wheelbases are only an inch different, the V8 engines are close in size, they both ride on separate parametric frames and the power still goes to the rear wheels via a solid rear axle. I guess it's a case of not fixing something or redesigning it if it isn't broken and still sells well..

MATT - There's a lot of life left in the rear-wheel-drive design although most modern versions utilize rear independent suspensions rather than live axles. But the system used on the Crown Vic works well enough and is so rugged that it's the almost universal choice of police departments that need a big boomer for pursuit work. All the other domestic auto makers have abandoned this venerable all-American big-sedan design in favor of unibody chassis and front-wheel drive. The other U.S. auto makers still use the "formula" but only on trucks and big SUVs. That says something about the ruggedness and reliability factor built into the '99 Crown Victoria.

BOB - Although the new Crown Vic uses a V8 engine like its ancestor, the version used in the new car is state-of-the-art. It's one of Ford's "modular" models which means that the basic aluminum engine can be configured several different ways. Its 281 cubic inches of displacement are topped by single-overhead-cam cylinder heads and puts out 215 horsepower. But when Ford uses double-over-head-cams and four-valves per cylinder, the horsepower can skyrocket to over 300 in Ford various muscular Mustang sportsters. The basic engine is also a popular choice for specially-built streetable sports cars like the Panoz and De Tomaso as well as pro race cars like the 500 horse Riley & Scott endurance racers. At only 215 horsepower in the Crown Vic, the engine should last forever. The engine in the '99 Crown Victoria has a neat limp home feature which drops out alternating cylinders if the engine should lose its coolant.

MATT - The car comes standard with 200 horsepower but our tester came with the optional Power & Handling package which adds another 15 horsepower via dual exhausts. The handling and performance is enhanced through performance-oriented tires, larger diameter sway bars, revised shocks and rear air springs. The rear axle ratio is a bit lower too. It doesn't give the performance that's available in the Police Package but the color schemes are somewhat restricted on the cop cars. Speaking of which, I was amazed to find that 85 percent of the Crown Vics are sold as specialty vehicles like police cars, taxis and such.

MATT - Our tester was the LX which has a lot of standards like remote keyless entry power drivers seat and dual vanity mirrors as will as center arm rests front and rear. This a big car and it hold six full-sized adults with no problem at all. The doors are big enough to make getting in and out a breeze and the only thing I had trouble with was getting the car parked in those postage stamp-sized pieces of asphalt that urban municipalities call metered parking spaces. I can see where shorter drivers could have a hard time seeing over the long hood. The Environmental Protection Administration classifies the Crown Vic as a large car and there are few sedans on the road that are much bigger. It's very high in loyal repeat buyers and that includes fleet buyers also.

BOB -The Crown Vic has changed in a lot of ways since it came on the scene two decades ago but in many more ways it's remained the same. It's big and comfortable with lots of interior room to spread out in. What a shame that so few young Americans are into the virtues and amenities of these perfect drive-in movie double-date conveyances.

MATT -I didn't know that you and Mom did that anymore, Dad.