What's New for 2002
A new Crown Vic LX Sport model with 235 horsepower, boosted torque, a performance-oriented axle ratio and five-spoke 17-inch wheels debuts. The Sport also comes with leather front bucket seats and a nifty center console. Standard Crown Vics get new included equipment like an auto-dimming rearview mirror, front seat back pockets and wheel covers. Newly optional on Standard models is luxury cloth seating and power-adjustable pedals. Those pedals, floor mats, heated side mirrors, antilock brakes, 12-spoke alloy wheels and steering wheel controls for the stereo and climate controls are now standard on LX models. Electronic gauges have been thoughtfully moved to the LX options list. LX and LX Sport get an optional trunk storage system. All Vics benefit from upgraded cupholders.
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.
These days, the Ford Crown Victoria and its Mercury Grand Marquis stable mate offer much more value than most compact and midsize cars being peddled at your local auto mall. Think about this: The Crown Vic costs about 30 grand fully loaded with electric everything and a leather interior. In contrast, a similarly equipped Toyota Avalon runs several thousand dollars more.
The five- or six-passenger Crown Vic is available in Standard, upscale LX or sporty LX Sport trim. All come well equipped, with the luxury goodies like leather and automatic climate control reserved for LX and LX Sport models.
The Crown Victoria has never been a slouch in terms of acceleration (as you would hope, seeing as how so many police departments use it). The standard 4.6-liter V8 engine makes 220 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. Opt for the LX Sport, and you'll get a massaged version of this motor making 235 horsepower and 276 lb-ft of twist, not to mention a shorter 3.27 axle ratio. Not surprisingly, the only transmission offered is a four-speed automatic.
In stock trim, the Crown Victoria drives and handles like you would expect a big American sedan to. It's comfortable, but it's all too happy to float around over bumps. For a more controlled ride and better grip, buy the LX Sport or equip the LX with the handling and performance package that adds power and improves the car's stability in the twisties. We recommend the new LX Sport model to anyone who enjoys backcountry highways more than mind-numbing interstates for their family vacations.
And if you do plan to haul around a family, you can sleep better at night knowing that the Crown Victoria scores well in crash tests, even without the availability of side airbags. Standard this year on LX and LX Sport, the Crown Vic's adjustable gas and brake pedals can be moved up to 3 inches toward the driver to improve comfort and to keep shorter drivers from having to sit too close to the steering wheel-mounted airbag. Traction control is optional for those who live in climates where lousy weather is commonplace.
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.