Full 2011 Lincoln Town Car Review
What's New for 2011
There are no significant changes for 2011.
Spend more than a few minutes outside any major U.S. airport and you'll see dozens of shiny black livery cars waiting to pick up arriving bigwigs. Look closer and you'll discover most of them are virtually identical to the 2011 Lincoln Town Car.
That's because this grande dame of the Lincoln lineup hasn't had a major mechanical redesign in, well, decades. Which, oddly enough, is both this full-size luxury sedan's greatest strength and fundamental weakness.
On the plus side, the Town Car is one of the few remaining sedans on the market to offer seating for six passengers. Rear-seat legroom is abundant, especially in the 6-inch-longer "L" body style. Other benefits of driving a car that's roughly 18 feet long include a downright cavernous trunk and excellent crash test scores.
The downsides of the Town Car's anachronistic nature become readily apparent from the driver seat. The combination of its body-on-frame design and a solid rear axle contribute to the car's lackluster handling and nautical ride quality. The 239-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 and four-speed automatic transmission are about as outdated as you can get, delivering both poor fuel economy and meager acceleration.
To put all this in perspective, one need only take a spin in one of the Town Car's many competitors, which are newer, more refined and often less expensive. Choices include the Hyundai Genesis, Lexus ES 350, Toyota Avalon and even Lincoln's own MKS. The Chrysler 300C also provides similar luxury and a more robust V8 -- there's even an extended-wheelbase version available. In short, the 2011 Lincoln Town Car is not a car we can recommend unless you spend most of your time picking people up from the airport.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Lincoln Town Car is a full-size luxury sedan available in two trim levels that correspond to the available wheelbases. All Town Cars seat six people, thanks to a three-person front bench. The regular-wheelbase Signature Limited model comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry (with code access pad), a power-opening and -closing trunk, rear parking sensors, 40/20/40-split front bench seats with eight-way power adjustment and driver memory functions, leather upholstery, heated front seats, power-adjustable pedals, a tilt steering column, a wood-trimmed leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and climate controls, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an eight-speaker stereo with a six-CD changer.
The Signature L adds 6 inches of wheelbase and therefore substantially more rear-seat legroom (not that the regular Town Car was lacking in this department). It also features heated rear seats, rear-seat audio and climate controls, a folding armrest with a storage bin and two power points, rear-seat vanity mirrors and redundant fore-aft controls for the front passenger seat.
Options for both trim levels include chrome-clad wheels, whitewall tires and xenon headlights. The Continental Edition package adds polished aluminum wheels, chrome B-pillar trim and special badging and interior stitching.
Powertrains and Performance
The rear-wheel-drive 2011 Lincoln Town Car comes with a flex-fuel 4.6-liter V8 good for 239 hp and 287 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard. Expect a 0-60 time in the mid-8-second range for the Signature Limited and longer for the heavier Signature L. EPA fuel economy estimates are 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined, which is worse than the 355-hp Lincoln MKS EcoBoost.
The 2011 Lincoln Town Car comes standard with front-seat side airbags, but it doesn't offer side curtain airbags. Antilock brakes and traction control are also standard, but stability control is unavailable. The Town Car received the top five-star rating from the government in front and side crash test categories, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Town Car the highest rating of "Good" for offset frontal impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Town Car's plus-size dimensions translate into one of the roomiest passenger cabins on the road. Front seats are plenty comfortable, though they provide very little lateral support. The rear seat is adult-friendly even in the shorter base model, while the long-wheelbase Signature L version offers rear legroom in NBA proportions. Out back the trunk offers a whopping 21 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
The T-shaped dash design hasn't changed much since the 1980s, making it look both comfortably familiar and a tad boring despite upscale details like genuine burl walnut trim. Audio and climate controls are simple and straightforward, but the latest high-tech bells and whistles you'd expect to see in a modern luxury sedan are conspicuous by their absence. Depending on the buyer, that could be a good or bad thing.
On the road, the 2011 Lincoln Town Car's V8 engine produces enough low-end torque to make this huge vehicle feel faster than it is. The engine runs out of steam quickly, however, which explains why the car's overall performance lags behind virtually every other luxury sedan on the market.
Cruising down the freeway the Town Car's suspension delivers a smooth ride, at least as long as it doesn't run into any significant pavement irregularities. If it does, the rear end can get jiggly or float like a yacht on the high seas. Handling is decent enough compared to the boatlike driving character of previous generations, but it still pales in comparison to the capabilities of virtually all of its more modern competitors.