Review: 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis

The Manufacturer

Celebrating its pearl anniversary, the Mercury Grand Marquis is the archetypical American highway sedan. Its trademark rear-wheel drive, V-8 engine, cushioned ride, and bench seating lend themselves perfectly to putting away long stretches of interstate highway with the cruise control on. It's a car that appeals to those who have fond memories of old Detroit and its big, powerful, and affordable vehicles--an audience that started driving well before the Grand Marquis's 1975 introduction.

The Grand Marquis is available in five trim packages, ranging from the base GS to the decked-out LS 30th Anniversary Limited Edition. The two GS models are a bit Spartan, while the three LS packages have enough bells and whistles to suit most full-size-sedan drivers' tastes. For 2005, the Grand Marquis is little changed from its comprehensive 2003 makeover, which included a new frame, suspension, and steering system. Enhancements for 2005 include improved modulation of airbag deployment, new color choices, a new steering wheel, and optional 16-inch wheels.

The soft-lined exterior of the Grand Marquis is nearly identical to that of its brother, the Ford Crown Victoria, and it's a familiar profile to anyone who has traveled by taxi (or, uh, police car) in recent years due to the prevalence of Crown Vic in fleets. You won't find modern styling trends such as crisp lines, large wheels pushed out to the corners of the car, or high-tech lighting. Instead, the Grand Marquis is proud of its traditional, block, three-box form. Although the Grand Marquis fit in with Ford's product line when it was introduced, minor changes have done little to bring this machine into the 21st century.

Utility is the overarching theme of the Grand Marquis' interior design. The standard materials are meant to endure rather than cosset, and yet they manage to provide a reasonable level of comfort. The Grand Marquis's fans love both its bench seats that accommodate a total of six passengers (for short hauls, at least) and the ease of entering and exiting its cabin. Its class-leading trunk space is commensurate with its seating capacity and could accommodate the baggage of a basketball team's starting lineup and their driver. The linear instrument panel has large digital displays, and while it looks dated, it's highly legible and gets the job done. The center console is simple to use, but only if you can reach it; drivers with shorter arms will find the placement of the controls a stretch. Standard equipment on LS models supplies all the necessities. Heated leather seats and a power sunroof are among the available options on the LS. No rear-seat DVD entertainment system is offered--a shame given that many a Marquis makes the long annual journey from Florida to the Midwest and back, and the folks in back likely would whine a lot less with a few movies to watch.

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