Last of the dinosaurs
The Grand Marquis is one of the last three full size body-on-frame rear wheel drive sedans sold in America, an automotive genre which was once the meat and potatoes of the American auto market.
The car's generously sized dimensions have not changed since it's 1978 introduction as the downsized Mercury Marquis. Step inside, shut the reassuringly heavy door, and you are welcomed by two thickly padded velour covered bench seats, large enough to comfortably accommodate you and four of your XXL friends (five in a pinch, by folding up the front armrests).
Aesthetically, the Grand Marquis is a mix of mid '90s and early 2000s styling. With the exception of the grille, the car could be mistaken for a well preserved 1998 model. On the interior, scarcely more than the addition of analog gauges and a new steering wheel distinguish the '05 Marquis from the '98 Marquis. The interior is curvy and contains a mix of decent quality plastics, garnished with some unconvincing fake burled wood trim.
The Marquis' long hood houses Ford's 4.6 litre SOHC Modular V8, which serves up 224 horsepower, and 275 lb-ft of torque, bolted to a four speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels. Performance is good, considering the car's engine is tasked with motivating 4600 lbs. 0-60 is around 8 seconds.
While you won't win any drag races, highway cruising is effortless at 70 mph, and there is always plenty of power in reserve. The car is quiet at speed and it's 6.5 feet of width render it stable in crosswinds and emergency manoeuvres; you would need to do something very stupid to flip this car over. As you might expect, the car is a bit difficult to park.
For fuel economy, I have seen no higher than 19 mpg in daily mixed driving and I have seen no lower than 15, quite outside the window sticker's optimistic 18/23 mpg estimates, which is to be expected with such a massive car. The owner's manual recommends 87 or higher Octane unleaded regular gasoline.
The suspension is double wishbone in front, with a live axle in the rear, with gas charged shock absorbers and coil springs all round. The car rides as if it is floating down a river of whipped cream, thanks to the isolation provided by body-on-frame construction. Despite the smooth ride, it corners remarkably level. The solid rear axle (such as you would find on a truck) makes for some interesting handling over broken pavement, but is vastly more durable than an independent rear suspension.
Overall, this car and its twins, the Ford Crown Victoria and Lincoln Town car, are the last of the land yachts, and are rumoured to be discontinued in 2011. It remains a mystery to me why the masses gravitate to smaller, more expensive uncomfortable Accord and Camry or piggish unsafe SUVs, when for only $20k they could have a safe, fast, supremely comfortable battlecruiser.
While I have not owned the Marquis long enough to comment on reliability, one would expect all the bugs to have been worked out long ago, and replacement parts are ubiquitous and cheap.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 12th November, 2008