2010 Mercury Grand Marquis LS Ultimate 4.6 Liter SOHC Ford Modular V8 from North America
The last batch of a bygone era, and I am proud to own a piece of time gone by
I have only owned the car for a week; can't comment on reliability just yet.
This is my 3rd Grand Marquis that I have owned since I started driving in 1994, and counting a 1984 Crown Victoria I had in high school, it is the 4th "Panther Platform car" I have owned. With the low miles, I was lucky enough to purchase it "Ford Pre-Owned certified", which includes another year/12,000 miles of bumper to bumper warranty, plus power-train for another 2 1/2 years or until it hits 70,000 miles. Not that I expect to need it, but it's just nice to know it's there.
I have owned a 1987 LS, and 1997 LS, and now this one. I think I am one of the only people around my area in my mid 30s that appreciates these cars.
If you are biased, and you like tiny, plastic econoboxes, you will probably not appreciate this car, and will view it as an outdated barge.
If you like a smooth ride and near bulletproof reliability, combined with a vehicle that is relatively safe and very cheap to buy insurance on, they are great cars.
This car is an "LS Ultimate", but there really isn't much ultimate about it. Since the middle of the last decade, Ford had planned on discontinuing this model. 2006 was the last major restyle, and I believe all that really changed are the grille, headlights, and taillights and the trunk.
As far as looks go, on the outside I think 2003 and newer were the best looking ones of the bunch since 1992. With that said, towards the end of production Ford seemed to take the motto "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" and "keep it simple" a little too far. The interiors on 2006 and newer models had quite a bit of extra cheapness to them.
For example, there are plastic plugs in the rear doors where ashtrays were meant to be, unless you ordered the smoker's package. This leaves only one 12-volt outlet in the whole car, the old fashioned front ashtray. This is combined with the only two front cup-holders, so having a cup of coffee and powering anything in our technology age will just be awkward as it completely blocks of the heater/AC controls.
Ford stuck with a plain CD player in these things to the bitter end; I'm not even sure if a satellite radio was ever available. I know for a fact that a USB or AUX cable plug was never offered with the factory radios in the Grand Marquis. On models with leather seats, unless you are lucky enough to find one with the dark charcoal colored seats (and I wasn't), the plain gray or tan colors will remind you more of grandma's 1980 Ford Fairmont.
As crazy as it sounds, The cloth or velour interiors in these things have always felt and looked better to me. In the end Ford pushed more leather seats to the dealer lots and rental companies just to "fit in", sacrificing the traditional comfort that a lot of their loyal buyers enjoyed for years.
Whether you find one in cloth or leather, if you are used to perforated leather Recaro sport buckets with side bolsters, you will never find a correct seating position in this car. The Grand Marquis is meant to be driven with your right hand on the the wheel, leaned back gangsta style, with your left elbow out the window resting on the door. That is the only way you will be comfortable.
Believe it or not, there was a Sport package available for the Crown Vic and Grand Marquis that had a full center console with floor shifter, but they are very hard to find. And even those are more of a 40/console/40 split bench instead of real actual bucket seats.
The Mercury Marauder was also sold as a separate model from 2003-2004. It has a higher output engine with the floor shift console, blacked out trim and upgraded suspension.
It is nice to actually have a tach on the instrument cluster on the 2006 and newer models. The instruments are well laid out and easy to read, but even this instrument cluster seems like more of a cheap afterthought, like a second rate throwaway design from the drawing board of an old F150.
Now let me focus on the good.
Whether you own a 1992 or a 2010, the 4.6 liter V8 in good running condition is quiet and buttery-smooth. My 2010 has about 220 HP; the ones in the 1990s started at 190 HP. Over the years various versions with single and dual exhaust were sold, ranging from 190 to about 240 HP. Outside of a few internal tweaks and things being re routed under the hood, the engine changed very little since 1992. This engine is also shared with the Mustang from about 1996 onward to 2010 or so, so if you are good with wrenches there are many easy aftermarket performance upgrades available.
If you want quick acceleration out of this car, you will be disappointed that even a stock 240 HP version with dual exhaust will struggle to hit 60 MPH quicker than today's entry level 4-cylinder compact cars. But if you want to have a spine left after a 500 mile road trip, a Grand Marquis is a much better choice.
I spent a week driving on two lane somewhat hilly 55MPH roads, my computer showed close to 27 MPG, while actually filling it and doing the math I was just over 26 MPG. I usually drive 5MPH over the limit, and do somewhat hard acceleration to pass slow drivers.
Even my 1997 driving 75 MPH on the interstate got 24 MPG at times. My 1987 with the old 302 5.0 V8 got close to 23 at the same speeds. For city driving, a V8 is useless for fuel economy, that is reality even if you buy a new Dodge Charger. You may see 16 to 18 MPG on a good day doing city driving.
Most of the Grand Marquis came standard with 2.73 rear axle gears; that translates to a very low engine speed on the highway. The standard high axle ratio is where you will see the best highway fuel economy. I have to get close to 80 MPH before I even hit 2000 RPM in 4th gear.
You are not going to notice any real huge performance difference in a car with dual exhaust vs single, or 3.27 vs 2.73 gears, unless you buy aftermarket performance upgrades.
While everyone criticized the handling and steering on these cars, my 2010 feels just as tight as a new Taurus or Fusion. Dare I say the steering and suspension even has a hint of "road feel" to it. You can't steer them with a single finger like the ones from the 1980s. The Grand Marquis laughs at potholes and any minor bump in the road; unless you try to jump a curb at 20MPH, most of your passengers will be able to take a nap.
Edmunds did a final review of this car in 2010, and did their best to trash talk and destroy a fine car. If they would stop trying to drive everything like a BMW M series, a lot more people would see and appreciate cars like this for their good qualities.
Most people are terrified to drive anything rear wheel drive in the winter up north. With a good set of snow tires, a Grand Marquis can get around nearly as good as a 4 wheel drive pickup or SUV. Even with good all season tires, it is not too bad, but if you have bald cheap tires from Wal-mart, you might as well park it; that goes for any car.
I put Goodyear Ultragrips on my 1997, and managed to drive through 4 inches of fresh powder with barely a hiccup. My 1997 had no traction control and no working ABS. I saw plenty of stuck Subarus, 4WD trucks, wannabe SUVs and front wheel drive cars in the ditch that night though.
Most of the 2000 era and newer cars had ABS and traction control. I don't think the newest Grand Marquis ever had stability control, even in the end. In short, they are fine winter cars, you actually have to know how to drive. A skill severely lacking in the USA today.
If you wonder about long term reliability, simply pay attention to how many cars from the last 30 years are still on the road. Even in the 1980s Grand Marquis were the stereotypical "old fart" car or "is that a cop or just grandma going to bingo" car. But look and see how many "sporty" Pontiac Grand Ams from the 1980s are still on the road vs full size Fords? Foreign or domestic, with a few exceptions, most of the cheap, tin-can front wheel drive compacts from the 1980s and 1990s have long been rusting away in the junkyard or crushed by now, and the ones that didn't rust away had such poor quality they literally fell apart at the seams after less than a decade. Look back even 10 years. How many Chevy Cobalts, Kia Rios, Dodge Avengers, or even entry level Acuras from that time are still on the road? There are still quite a few Grand Marquis and Crown Vics from even the 1980s still cruising along, literally hundreds of thousands still out there from the 1990s, and they have seen the birth, death and demise of countless cheap throwaway cars, foreign and domestic, over the course of that time.
With its ancient body on frame construction and receiver hitch, the Grand Marquis is one of the last sedans ever made that has more standard towing capacity rating than some new compact pickup trucks at 4000 pounds. I am sure it could safely tow almost double that. In contrast, the new unibody Dodge Charger can be ordered with a V8 nearly twice as powerful as the Grand Marquis, but due to its frame design, it's only rated to tow 1000 pounds.
I will wrap it up by saying the Grand Marquis is like the oldest long-term grunt employee in a factory. People that first meet him think "Why doesn't he just retire already." He may not be the quickest, the coolest, or the most stylish. But he is the most dependable person employed there, knows his job better than anyone else, and still out-performs the majority of his coworkers when push comes to shove.
Just because something is old, doesn't mean it needs to be thrown away. And shame on Ford and society for throwing away a perfectly fine automobile!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 14th September, 2014
15th Sep 2014, 21:05
Thanks for your great review of a great car. The fact that the Crown Vic/Grand Marquis is an outdated land barge is exactly what I love about it.
This is literally the last of the rear wheel drive, V-8, body on frame, full size North American sedans. My favorite cars to drive.
I've owned a 1986 Vic with a 351, 1990 Vic with a 302, and 2007 P71 Interceptor Vic with a 4.6. All amazing cars that were super reliable and low maintenance. These cars are built to last and a pleasure to drive; I recommend them very highly.