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The 2011 Mercury Grand Marquis is a couple decades past its prime.
Big comfy seats, simple controls, six-passenger capacity, huge trunk.
Ancient design, nautical ride and handling, anemic V8, poor fuel economy, stability control is not available, missing modern conveniences.
Available Grand Marquis Sedan Models
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The Mercury Grand Marquis is unchanged for 2011, this car's final year of production.
This is more of a eulogy than a model review. Born way back in 1978, the Mercury Grand Marquis lived a long and fruitful life, one that began at a time when land yachts with big V8s were the norm rather than the exception. Like Joan Rivers, it has sustained multiple appearance changes, and as with most senior citizens, there have been replacements for some of its creaky mechanicals. But through thick and thin, the Grand Marquis has retained its old-school heritage.
For its final year on this good earth, the 2011 Mercury Grand Marquis receives no changes and continues to live by the mantra "they don't make 'em like they used to." Indeed, its wide dimensions allow three people to fit reasonably well in both the front and backseat, while its trunk is big enough to let you stuff numerous pieces of luggage for that trip to the airport. Anyone who has ever ridden in a Grand Marquis taxi (or Ford Crown Victoria, this car's twin) can attest to this. The old-school body-on-frame chassis is also a stalwart of sturdiness, simplicity and dependability -- something our nation's law enforcement community can attest to.
Sadly, they don't make 'em like the Grand Marquis for a variety of other, more important reasons. That body-on-frame design lets this Mercury jiggle and shake over bumps like a sumo wrestler during an earthquake. The car's handling is ponderous and the steering is slow, so you don't have much confidence in the car's ability to stay under control. Then there's the powertrain, a V8 that produces a puny 224 horsepower and barely respectable 275 pound-feet of torque, matched with an antiquated four-speed automatic. This Mercury's fuel economy (like its body structure) is rather trucklike. Finally, the cabin might be wide but the legroom is nevertheless limited, despite this car's large footprint.
Given these elderly attributes in a youthful world, it's been difficult to recommend the Grand Marquis for the better part of the last two decades. As it goes to the big garage in the sky with the rest of its Mercury family, the 2011 Mercury Grand Marquis leaves behind a wealth of impressive, thoroughly modern big sedans that provide the comfort, space, performance and fuel economy today's buyers should expect, along with a few modern conveniences the Grand Marquis never got around to offering. These cars include such young whippersnappers as the Buick LaCrosse, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Genesis and Toyota Avalon.
The Grand Marquis is survived by its cousin, the Lincoln Town Car. We wouldn't buy that either. Funeral services will be held near the Hertz rental desk at the Ft. Lauderdale airport.
The 2011 Mercury Grand Marquis is a full-size sedan that seats six people. Standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, rear air suspension, automatic headlights, foglamps, keyless entry, automatic climate control, a 50/50 split front bench with six-way driver and passenger power adjustability, power-adjustable pedals, leather upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a tilting leather-wrapped steering wheel and a CD player stereo. Options include heated seats, a leather-wood steering wheel and a cassette player.
The rear-wheel-drive 2011 Mercury Grand Marquis is powered by a 4.6-liter V8 good for only 224 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. A four-speed automatic is standard. Going from zero to 60 mph requires about 8.5 seconds, which is on par with many four-cylinder-powered sedans. Fuel economy is 16 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 19 combined. That's a big improvement over 1978, but pretty disappointing today given this car's meager power.
Standard safety equipment includes antilock disc brakes, traction control and front-seat side airbags. Neither stability control nor side curtain airbags is offered. Nonetheless, the Grand Marquis has fared well in crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, scoring a perfect five stars for both frontal and side impacts. However, while the big Mercury earned the top rating of "Good" in frontal-offset crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it garnered a "Marginal" rating -- second worst on a scale of four -- in side-impact crash testing.
The Grand Marquis' general interior design hasn't really been changed since...goodness, we can't even remember. The original George Bush may have been president. Major controls reside in the center of the dash and can be difficult to reach, though they're incredibly easy to decipher and a testament to simpler technological times. Of course, that also means you go without the sort of modern conveniences Ford has become known for, like navigation, Sirius Travel Link and Sync, which you can use to control your iPod and cell phone using voice controls. We have a sneaking suspicion, though, that most Grand Marquis buyers won't care.
The cabin is quite wide, but backseat legroom is no more impressive than cars that are smaller on the outside. Nevertheless, the Grand Marquis is one of the few remaining cars capable of seating three people in the front seat, which means you can stuff six people inside. Their luggage will be able to come along as well, because the trunk measures 20.6 cubic feet, making it the largest of any car (though the Ford Taurus' trunk is but 0.4 cubic feet smaller).
Driving the 2011 Mercury Grand Marquis is like taking a trip back in time, but without the fun of seeing your parents when they were teenagers. While rival full-size sedans generally provide decent handling and driver control, the Grand Marquis' prodigious size, cushy suspension and zero-effort steering combine to simulate the experience of piloting the Goodyear blimp. The V8 provides healthy torque off the line but not much after that.
Laura's old car was costing her a small fortune every month for gas and repairs. She didn't even want to drive her kids to the park any more. But buying a new Kia Soul changed all that.
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