What's New for 1999
Antilock brakes are now standard on Base and LX models. A stereo with cassette player is also newly standard on the Base model. Deep Wedgewood Blue, Light Blue and Harvest Gold are new exterior colors. Medium Wedgewood Blue, Light Denim Blue and Light Prairie Tan are no longer available.
If you've been pinching your pennies to buy a new full-size, rear-drive American sedan, we hope you like Fords. The Blue Oval is the only manufacturer building such cars these days. Decades-old technology allows Ford to keep the prices low, and the car is a favorite among fleet buyers for taxi companies, police departments, or just those who need space and don't want a minivan or sport-ute.
The grand dame of the Ford lineup was redesigned in 1998, getting a formal roofline, more prominent grille, new hood and revised rear styling. Additional changes to the 1998 model included simplifying the option lists and improving the steering and handling. For 1999, Ford makes antilock brakes standard on both models, adds a stereo with cassette to the Base model's standard equipment list, and swaps a few colors around. Added in mid-1996, the natural gas engine remains an available, if pricey, option. Amazingly, this engine makes the natural gas-equipped Crown Victoria one of the cleanest burning cars sold in the United States.
These days the Ford Crown Victoria and its Mercury Grand Marquis stablemate offer much more value than most compact and mid-size cars being peddled at your local auto mall. Think about this: the Crown Vic costs just over $26,000 fully loaded with electric everything and a leather interior. In contrast, a similarly equipped Toyota Avalon runs more than $30,000, and the much smaller Toyota Camry XLE costs $25,000; despite a wimpy (in comparison) V6, tight seating for five, and a comparatively small trunk.
Sporting a big car floaty ride, the Crown Victoria is nonetheless comfortable. The handling and performance group adds a few horsepower and improves the car's stability in the twisties; we recommend it to anyone who enjoys backcountry highways more than mind-numbing interstates for their family vacations. New last year was a Watt's Linkage rear suspension that gives this car's rear axle a 400-percent increase in rigidity, a real payoff in the handling department. Larger brake rotors with dual piston calipers were also added last year, and help pull the car down from high speeds without overheating. The Crown Victoria's traction control, also added in the 1998 redesign, operates at all speeds, using the antilock brakes and engine spark retardation to keep the rear wheels from slipping.
So, if you're one of the few people unwilling to pay for a sport utility's high insurance premiums and abysmal gas mileage and if you just can't stand the idea of a minivan, we hope that you like the Crown Victoria. It's your only choice for an American, full-size, rear-wheel drive sedan.