Performance wise this car is no hot rod, and wasn't meant to be. It has adequate pick up and go, and that is more than enough for this type of car. A high end euro would smoke it, but hey, this isn't a high end euro. It's a Lincoln, classic American luxury cruise barge.
The Cartier rides stiffer than the lower Lincolns, in exchange for less body roll. Probably will "downgrade" back to soft suspension. Although it is by no means stiff, just stiffer than others I test drove, and the other Cartiers rode the same way, so I assumed this is just how the Cartier was tuned. Would have gotten the lower end TC if they weren't either worn out, bought already, or had other issues. I figured that it would be easier to buy this one that has the bells and whistles, and was in very good shape, and change the suspension later, than buy a crappy one with good suspension, and have it spend the first four months in the shop. I ain't worried about body roll, as there are not many places for a high performance vehicle as is. Plus, got I've the Jag for those froggy moments, but as is, the Jag rides better.
Interior/Comfort - Before settling on the TC, I drove the Crown Victorias in the years 2000-2006, and the Grand Marquis, as far as cars based on this platform go. The Crown Victorias felt like an unfinished Grand Marquis, as if they forgot the soundproofing to filter out road noise. Might as well been riding a large, roomy motorcycle with all that noise. The Grand Marquis, some sound insulation, but not quite enough. The Lincoln, finally, some peace and quiet. And that was the deciding factor. Plus the "leather" in the Crown Vic seemed more like vinyl of the cheap variety, but the 2004 and 2006 seemed to have better quality. Couldn't find a 2003 with leather. Grand Marquis leather was better quality, but only could find two with leather out of the hoards of Grand Marquis available. But the sound proofing was the clear deciding factor for that platform.
The seats are wide, roomy, and soft; good for me on long road trips. They don't seem to be tailored for people of small frame though, but that is OK. That is what the Jag is for.
The trunk is large, yet smaller than the pre-1997 ones. Very strange. And doesn't seem like they thought of a good place for the spare, so they put it on the trunk shelf thing, and covered it with trunk lining. They could have designed that better, especially given the large amount of space they had to work with. Ah, that is nothing but a little niggle, plus I guess it has its upside, as you can have a relatively full trunk, and still get to the spare tire easy, unlike the Jag, where anything in the trunk has to be removed first.
Style Inside - Nice interior. Far nicer than the unfinished plastic look of the Crown Victorias. Although there are a lot of plastic trimmings, but the Lincoln does a good job at making it look nice. The leather feel of the Cartier is a step up from the Grand Marquis and Signature TCs, but is thin. I mean it seems paper thin. It's soft and supple, but not substantial. Meh, it's OK. That is what the Jag thick and supple leather is for :p.
Outside/Inside - Nice styling. I'm a little indifferent to the style of the 2001 body style and the facelift of 2003 overall, but prefer the 2001 for a few minor reasons. The Lincoln emblems. It's like in 2003, Lincoln became ashamed of the emblem and removed them from every place outside the wheel covers and steering wheel. I like the old Lincoln tradition of the emblems on the door panels, and on the seat backings and taillights. At night, when the light shines through the emblems, it's telling the other people on the road, "yeah, you are staring at the rear end of a Lincoln." I mean, Cadillac has its distinctive rear tail-light shape, but Lincoln without the emblems seems generic now. No emblems on the door panels, looks swappable with the Grand Marquis; no emblems on the seat backs, looks and feels exactly swappable with the Grand Marquis. Hell, then the 2003 TC interior is an exact copy of the Grand Marquis. Although, the Cartier have the Cartier emblems on the seat backs in the 2001. Nice emblems, but I think it looks like those trampolines off the NES Super Mario Bros game. No worries, I have the 2001 TC. Sad the new ones abandoned those trade marks though.
Gas mileage - Good gas mileage. Not so good city driving, but that was expected. On the highway it's respectable. Average about 24-25 MPG actual measured/calculated the old way. The computer was found to be accurate though. This MPG is if allowed to cruise at 65 mph, give or take a few mph. Probably can get better MPG, but here we are about 3,500ft elevation, with summer days that reach 100 often, and hover at above 95 most days. Not sure of the average without the A/C running, but wouldn't imagine it being that big of a factor, plus A/C here during summer is not an option. It's a requirement. The window roll down trip don't work unless ya like being heat and sand blasted, and that's not something I like or can stand.
While it's not as fast, refined, nor as nice of an interior as the Cadillac DTS, it's simpler. The Northstars of that year and prior are notorious for problems, especially the overheating type. And a quick search and/or test drive of the average Northstar engined Cadillac here will reveal these overheating problems. Most people just didn't know about the special additive that was supposed to be put into the coolant system of those Northstar Cadillacs to prevent overheating and head gasket failure. This car is simple, standard maintenance with no worries or trying to hunt down special stuff. When I want complicated, I hop into the Jag :p, which is the real thing without driving a Northstar (wannabe Euro engine that doesn't excel at it, but comes with all the downsides and more. Hell, my Jag doesn't have cooling issues and the ones prior to the years I have, 98/99, have been solved and can be solved on those cars with a new water pump and metal thermostat housing). Lincoln, I made a good choice.