I'm planning on buying a late model Marquis this week to replace my VW Passat wagon (2003) with 106,000 miles.
I really love my VW. The finish overall, and the general impression of quality is very high and nearly equivalent to my previous 535i BMW, as well as my even older Mercedes 300. It is fun in the corners up to about eight tenths lateral g's. Trouble is that in the last 10,000 miles my VW has come to require $5,500-6,000 in out of warranty maintenance. Breaks my heart. Had I done my research I doubt I would have bought it.
Now that I'm a family guy I like to travel more with my kids. The VW was really great for this, but left me stranded twice in the middle of nowhere with two young daughters. After I started having breakdowns, I started researching and found a lot of other folks had the same exact issues with VWs. Even the guy who sold it to me left the dealer, due to how many folks were unhappy with the needed repairs, (so he said).
The reason the Grand Marquis, and cars like it are so reliable, is that the parts are so under-stressed. To get high specific power output from smaller engines requires getting more work out of the parts. Hence, turbos and superchargers, aggressive cams and multiple valves put addition strain on internal parts to generate more power. Firmer suspension takes more abuse and so-on.
I find that there are no cars that function so well for my intended purpose, as the Grand Marquis. It is ideally suited to American highways. Long straight and boring driving, traditionally ensconced in supreme isolation and comfort.
In the past, I was raised with mostly European cars and I've owned mostly European and Japanese cars and prefer the supportive (some call them too hard) seats and grippier side bolsters. I also love responsive handling and direct steering. I've owned a number of European vintage sports cars, and consider myself somewhat of an aficionado.
I readily agree with both sides of this discussion. Take the Grand Marquis for what it is, a (dare I say it) Classic American dinosaur that has attributes from an age gone by, but whose qualities still have useful value today, (at least in this country). Some of the interior materials on the ones I've looked at are second rate compared to most modern cars, but they aren't really offensive either. I never dreamed I would find such cars so interesting or compelling. You can be sure that I'll always keep something far more sporting as a second car though.
A lovely bit of nostalgia that Grand Marquis... even if I wasn't there to remember the "good old days", I can still have a sense of it today.
You know, since you're from the UK, the Mercury Grand Marquis is a large car, since it's "too big" to drive on the roads there, for your roads are smaller than the U.S. roads. A Ford Fusion (comparable to the Volkswagen Passat) would be a large car for you folks.
This Ford product is a benchmark in its class; you wouldn't have liked the Charger/Chrysler 300; it's hard to get in and out of, visibility is horrible, and it "guzzles" gas. The Mercury doesn't; it can get up to 31 MPG on the highway, when driven properly. The Ford Crown Victoria is a similar car, but drives differently.
I cannot believe that you were disappointed by this fine car. I've driven a Grand Marquis multiple times, and it's a treat to drive one. If you can't afford a Lincoln Town Car, the Mercury Grand Marquis or Ford Crown Victoria is just as good for less money. You can't compare a Passat to a Grand Marquis; it's like comparing an apple to an orange.
Some people miss the point of why Ford kept making full size cars without major updates. It's because customers liked the cars. They didn't want to downsize to a smaller, more efficient front wheel drive modern car like a Ford Taurus or Honda Accord. It was more the fact that Ford wanted to discontinue the model for some time, rather than just dwindling sales, that there wasn't much interest or money for updates.
As gas prices went up, and SUV crossovers flooded the market, sales started declining. With the exception of fleet sales, police, taxi drivers and older buyers who had become accustomed to large, heavy duty and reliable rear wheel drive V8 engine body on frame cars.
I grew up riding in and learning to drive full size American cars, and after I got my license I switched to small imported cars. After my dad came to help change a tire on the roadside (overtightened lug nut was too much for the flimsy tire iron) we switched cars for the trip back home. His Chevy Caprice Classic was kind of scary to drive as I had become so used to driving a small front wheel drive hatchback with manual steering and transmission. I was driving on a major highway in heavy traffic. Out of habit I was wanting to reach for the shifter to change gears. The car seemed to float and sway a lot more than I remembered. It accelerated in a smoother more linear way than the more peaky quicker revving 4 cylinder car I was used to. It was faster 0 to 60 mph by 2 seconds, but from how it felt in the driver's seat you would swear the small car was the faster of the two. You could hardly feel the Caprice's transmission changing gears at part throttle, and you weren't exactly thrown back in your seat at full throttle. And the big Chevy's over assisted power steering felt like you could turn the wheel with your pinky finger, I could also turn the wheel a fair bit before the car actually changed directions. So I can sympathize with drivers who aren't used to driving cars like the Ford CV or Mercury GM.
I have owned cars and trucks sized from a Renault LeCar to a F250 supercab pick up. And I'll tell you it's much easier to switch from a large vehicle to a small one than the other way around. So I don't think the original review was fair. Plus the Grand Marquis wasn't Ford's answer to the latest and greatest from across the pond (or the best rental car to drive the wheels off of); it was an older style car that Ford kept building as long as there were buyers wanting to buy them and some profit to be made.
Imagine going to Mexico and renting an old style air cooled VW Beetle and complaining about it being small, outdated, underpowered, and slow. Volkswagen kept making the same old Beetle for so long, for the same reason Ford kept making full size RWD body on frame sedans. You don't mess with a good thing.
Well if we started drilling 10 years ago, rather than just moaning "It'll be 10 years before we see any benefit" as an excuse, we'd be much better off today than we are.
Different markets, different countries, different target audience. I, for one, don't like the cramped feeling of tiny European cars - no offense intended. The European manufacturers who sell cars here market US-spec cars that are comparable in size to many of our compact and mid size domestics. Bigger roads, and yes, bigger people = bigger vehicles. I spend a total of two hours in my car each day commuting to and from work, and I appreciate the extra space as well as the comfortable ride provided by my Grand Marquis. Different strokes for different folks.