The Lincoln Town Car was the last of the proud American luxury boats ending production in the 2011 model year for commercial customers (limousines) and 2010 for regular retail buyers. The Town Car name was a high end trim level on the Lincoln Continental until 1981, when the Continental was renamed Town Car.
This review will focus on the last iteration of the Town Car, the 2003 to 2011 generation- a car that’s still a familiar sight in many American cities. These cars have racked up millions of reliable miles for limousine businesses, whisking their clients to airports and appointments in smooth, quiet comfort. Town Cars have been known to go over half a million miles in fleet service on the original drivetrain. Credit the 4.6L V8 engine for this long lasting dependability. The V8 is an engine that quietly teams with a 4 speed automatic transmission that has passenger comfort in mind rather then sporting pretensions. The 4.6L with an underwhelming 239 horsepower has received very minor horsepower updates from its introduction in 1991 with 210 horsepower (The Town Car was the first Ford vehicle to get this engine). This is without a doubt one of the most long lived and reliable engines Ford has ever produced. The Town Car shared its panther platform with the Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis. The panther platform getting an updated hydro formed frame with improved coil over front suspension, widened track, and outboard rear shocks to go with a watts linkage locating the solid axle rear end.
The flagship of the Lincoln brand in the prime of Lincoln’s American luxury car influence the Town Car was the largest in the lineup and occupied the space for the traditional, older buyer. Rooted in tradition was the car’s body on frame construction, at one time the way most Ford and General Motors cars were manufactured. There are advantages to this kind of construction: the body is mounted to the chassis with a series of rubber bushings providing isolation from road shock and vibration. This gives a quieter, more supple ride to the occupants. The disadvantage is that it’s heavier and more costly to produce, requiring more steel. Along with the reality of body on frame design being less fuel efficient, car manufactures have abandoned this type of construction except for trucks where body on frame is necessary for ruggedness, payload and towing.
Riding with a 117 inch wheel base, 123 inch for the extended length L model (6 inches are added to the back seat for more rear legroom) the Town Car has 18 feet of presence. Styling of the Town Car is meant to be noticed with a large hood, rear overhang and plenty of chrome. The large waterfall chrome grille makes the statement of privileged luxury and the stand up hood ornament carries the old school tradition of claiming automotive superiority. The interior is commodious with a fake wood trimmed dash and flat, soft leather seats. The two attributes the Town Car focuses on is traditional style and a serene ride.
Driving Impressions featuring a 2005 Lincoln Town Car
It’s obvious this car isn’t meant to excite the driver, rather this car is meant to ride in. The interior is comfortable with a seat you sink into…turn the key and the V8 idles obediently, not announcing its presence. Put the column shifter into drive and you roll away, the soft springs dispatching bumps in the road like a distant memory. Like a lot of cars the accelerator gives a lot of initial acceleration while barely pushing it and the car comes up to speed effortlessly. The engine provides confident acceleration at the speeds the car is meant to be driven. Power feels like plenty without much help from the 4 speed automatic that upshifts early under all conditions. Push the accelerator to the floor and you can feel the weight, the hushed 4.6L giving adequate top end performance and good passing power thanks to 287 ft lbs of torque. This is not a fast car but there is something about a V8 that gives a car an inevitable feeling of power.
The driving dynamics don’t come to the forefront and the steering and braking give smooth confident control. The responses of the car are meant to relieve the driver of the effort of driving, enjoy the ride and arrive refreshed. The handling is sure footed and capable with a lot less body roll and wallowing of older body Town Cars. If the last time you drove a Lincoln was in the 80’s or 90’s the handling will feel like a lithe patrol boat in the delta peninsula rather then the Queen Mary in angry seas. Handling is actually quite good for this type of car. That’s the result of the updated frame and suspension in 2003. You can surprise people in turns just for the fact that Town Car’s are rarely seen breaking the speed limit. The ride/handling balance compromise is closer to handling then ever before with more road feel then older Town Cars- the ride thankfully remains a high point of the vehicle. You get a little float under certain situations enough to make you smile if you have nostalgia for large sedans. The car is very quiet and if you like big American cars, the feeling of control is the best in their development.