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2006 Mercury Grand Marquis review

November 10, 2005 07:42 PM EST | Mercury , Sedans | Email to Friend

View large imageA popular seller among older folks who appreciate its large size and reasonable price, the Grand Marquis offers a Lincoln Town Car experience for under $30,000.

Spacious interior, comfortable ride, good crash test scores, low price.

Large size makes it difficult to park and maneuver, some low-grade interior materials.

What's New for 2006
For 2006, the Grand Marquis LS gains 16-spoke, 16-inch alloy wheels, as well as an overhead console with compass and universal garage door opener. All models get a new grille, front fascia, headlamps and rear trunk applique.

One of the last surviving full-size, rear-drive American sedans from an earlier era, the Grand Marquis is an aged car. But under that familiar skin are some modern touches. A full-perimeter frame uses strong, lightweight hydroformed steel sections for the front rails to improve frontal and offset crash performance. Along with a stiffer frame, the Grand Marquis received a number of suspension upgrades in 2003, all of which contribute to the car's smooth, controlled ride and handling characteristics. Other modern features include a variable ratio rack and pinion steering system with variable power assist and a dual-rate brake booster that automatically supplies full braking power in a panic stop. On the inside, the seats are comfortable, and there's room for up to six people.

The Grand Marquis is mechanically identical to the Ford Crown Victoria and similar to the Lincoln Town Car. Decades-old technology allows Mercury to keep the prices low, and the car is a favorite among people who need space and don't want a minivan or sport-ute. Shoppers looking for a modern driving experience, however, might want to check out the Toyota Avalon, which is just as roomy and comfortable, and infinitely more refined.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The full-size Grand Marquis comes as a four-door sedan in two levels of trim -- GS and LS. Each trim is further broken down into base and Convenience lines for the GS, and Premium and Ultimate for the LS. Base GS models include all the family sedan basics, like air conditioning; a CD player; a power driver seat; keyless entry; power windows, mirrors and locks; cruise control; a tilt steering wheel; and 16-inch wheels. The GS Convenience adds traction control and power-adjustable pedals. The LS Premium adds alloy wheels, a power front-passenger seat, automatic climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The LS Ultimate includes a wood and leather steering wheel with audio and climate controls. Options on both LS models include leather upholstery, a moonroof, seat heaters, a CD changer and a handling package, which offers a bump in power as well as firmer suspension tuning for better handling.

Powertrains and Performance:
Only one engine and transmission are offered. Standard models use a 224-horsepower, 4.6-liter V8 and a four-speed automatic to put power to the rear wheels. Opt for the handling package on either LS model and the same engine is upgraded to produce 239 hp, along with a boost in torque to 287 lb-ft (from 272). Fuel economy is respectable for a large V8-powered sedan -- expect about 17 mpg in the city and up to 25 mpg on the highway.

The Grand Marquis scored well in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests; it earned a perfect five stars in frontal-impact testing and four stars in side-impact testing. The big sedan also earned the top rating of "Good" in frontal-offset crash testing conducted by the IIHS. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes are standard on every Grand Marquis, and traction control is standard on all cars except the base GS. Seat-mounted side airbags for front occupants are optional, but side curtain airbags and stability control are not available.

Interior Design and Special Features:
A roomy cabin is one of the biggest selling points for the Grand Marquis, and adults will find plentiful head-, shoulder, hip- and legroom. Bench seating allows this big sedan to accommodate up to six people. A cavernous trunk of 20.6 cubic feet will swallow any luggage they might have with them. Controls and instrumentation are simple in design, though not particularly stylish, and some of the materials are low in quality.

Driving Impressions:
Want a chrome-encrusted, rear-drive V8-powered American sedan without the premium charged for a Lincoln or the trendy Chrysler 300C? The Grand Marquis fits the bill perfectly. The standard V8 provides plenty of acceleration in just about any situation, and the car's smooth, forgiving ride spares occupants from harsh impacts over bumps. The large size of this Mercury can make it unwieldy in tight spots, but the car's relatively responsive steering helps drivers keep it on track.

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