Lincoln Town Car (1999)

 

Lincoln Town CarThe Lincoln Town Car is a dinosaur that's still roaming the highways.There are several reasons why its still out there. 1) People need to be driven to the airport, and it has long been the vehicle of choice for the hotel-airport shuttle driver. 2) Every year, a few more guys turn 70 and say: "Im finally getting myself a Town Car. If not now, when?" (How right they are!) And 3) The R&D investment by Ford Motor Company was paid off around 1976, so every one they sell now is pure gravy.

This is one of the last old-style American luxury boats still on the open road. (The other two being the Town Cars sister cars: Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis.) Consider these facts: its rear-wheel drive. It is built using body-on-frame technology, unlike the modern unibody design of almost every other car made today. And, most notably, its huge. It's the last of an enormous breed of lumbering American behemoths.

Driving Experience

The problem is not that its a dinosaur. Some dinosaurs can be a lot of fun. (See Tom Magliozzi.) The problem is that its not a particularly good dinosaur. The driving experience isn't exactly great. It's not that the Town Car is uncomfortable. Its very plush to sit in, and it provides nary a harsh bump for your derriere to be aware of. But, having just had a chance to drive the comparably priced Infiniti Q45, the contrast is striking. The Town Car is outdated and outclassed. The Q45 is better in just about every respect: it's got a quieter engine, a smoother drivetrain, a nicer ride, better suspension and much better visibility.

The Town Car we test-drove had the optional Touring Package, the mostsignificant items of which are a stabilizer bar and heavy-duty shocks andsprings. (Did we mention the "bird's-eye wood applique" and "argentgrille?")The Touring Package makes the Town Car sway a little less, andmakes the ride a little flatter around corners. This is almost a necessity in the Town Car, since the non-touring Town Car swings and sways enough to make you sick. With the Touring Package, however, the Town Car is just acceptable on corners. Not good, just acceptable.

Interior

Lincoln Town CarAs we said, the seats themselves are plush and comfortable, with plenty oflegroom and decent headroom. This is your basic living room on wheels. So in city traffic or on a smooth, straight highway, its just like sitting on a soft leather sofa. All thats missing is the TV remote, the dog and the fireplace. If you have to sit in a car for 30,000 miles a year, the Town Car just might be the one for you. In our humble opinion, its the most comfortable in its class--more cushy than even the comparable Infiniti Q45 or Lexus LS400.

Ergonomics

Ergonomics are good in the Town Car. The Town Car has our favorite seat controls, which are shaped like a seat. Everything else is as you might expect it. The climate control is intuitive to operate. The Town Car does have a very nice Alpine car stereo, which is located in the middle of the dashboard. Unfortunately, because of the size of the car, the center of the dashboard is actually pretty far away from the driver and requires a bit of a reach. This must be especially difficult for the little old men in Miami who buy these things. Lincoln addressed this problem by putting some of the radio controls on the steering wheel, which definitely helps.

The visibility is not particularly good out of the Town Cars small back window. Bottom of the rear window meets the trunk at a pretty high belt line, which makes it stylish but limits rear visibility quite a bit. But, come to think of it, that may not matter much. After all, the guys who drive this car dont look when theyre backing up, anyway!

Maintenance

The Lincoln Town Car has a very reliable powertrain, which should last at least 150,000 miles. Because its a dinosaur and hasnt changed much over the years, Joes Gas Station has had plenty of time to practice on the Town Car and should be a fine place for almost any kind of servicing. The Town Cars long track record, along with the fact that theres plenty of room under the hood, should keep repair costs down.

Overall comments

The Town Car is the last of its breed, which once included such classicAmerican boats as the Cadillac Deville, the Buick Electra, the Chrysler New Yorker and others. Its a throwback to an earlier era--the era when going straight quickly and smoothly was all that mattered. The era when people chromed everything--even the electric window buttons on this car are blindingly shiny! The era when Don Coreleone ran the family, and Michael was still in Italy. The people who buy Town Cars these days are older people who want to go back to that era. Fortunately for Ford Motor Company, there are still enough of them around to make production worthwhile. And even more fortunately for Ford, theres still a booming airport shuttle business.

View cars.com model report on this vehicle.


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