Used 2003 Ford Crown Victoria Natural Gas Review

Edmunds expert review

One of the last rear-drive, V8, traditional full-size sedans. A host of 2003 changes should keep it in favor with taxi cab drivers, police departments and those looking for a lot of room at a reasonable price.

What's new for 2003

Ford's big sedan receives a number of updates for 2003. A new full-perimeter frame uses strong, lightweight hydroformed steel sections for the front rails to improve frontal and offset crash performance. Redesigned frame crossmembers and new optional side impact airbags improve side impact crash performance. Additionally, the new frame -- combined with a redesigned independent front suspension and new monotube shock absorbers -- contributes to a smoother, more controlled ride and improved handling. Other changes include a new variable ratio rack and pinion steering system with variable power assist and a new dual-rate brake booster that automatically supplies full braking power in a panic stop. Inside, revised seats offer improved comfort and appearance; the cupholders are new; and a three-point seatbelt has been added for the rear center passenger.

Vehicle overview

Introduction: The Victoria debuted in the Ford lineup in 1951 as a new derivative of the 1949 Ford, the company's first new post-war car. The Crown Victoria, a top-of-the-line version highlighted by a "basket-handle" chrome accent strip that looped over the greenhouse, joined the lineup in 1955. The Victoria models continued throughout the 1950s as derivatives of the Fairlane series. Other models included a luxury Town Victoria and stylish Club Victoria. The Victoria designation went on hiatus in 1965 in favor of the Galaxie 500 and LTD series Fairlanes. The Crown Victoria name returned in 1980 as the high end of the full-size LTD models and once again became a best seller.

Currently, the Crown Vic is the favored ride of taxi drivers, police departments and fleet services. Decades-old technology and platform sharing (the Mercury Marquis and Lincoln Town Car are progeny) allows Ford to keep the prices low.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options: Ford's full-sized Crown Victoria comes in two trim levels, base and LX. The base model comes equipped with basics like air conditioning and a cassette stereo, as well as heated side view mirrors. It may be equipped with such convenience features as power adjustable pedals and remote keyless entry. Step up to the LX trim to get them standard, as well as a CD player, passenger power seat, steering wheel-mounted stereo controls and a spare tire. You can order a handling and performance package that includes performance tires and aluminum wheels, revised suspension components, a 3.27 axle ratio (compared to the 2.73 for the non-performance package), dual exhaust, leather trim for the seats and a six-disc CD changer. Traction control and a trunk organizer are available for both trim levels. Powertrains and Performance: The two-ton Crown Victoria was never a slouch in terms of acceleration, with the 4.6-liter V8 engine pumping out 224 horsepower and 239 pound-feet of thrust. For 2003, Ford has made a few minor improvements that reduce emissions and boost oil longevity. The only transmission offered is a four-speed automatic. Safety: All Crown Vics come supplied with ABS-equipped four-wheel disc brakes and electronic brake force distribution (EBD). Side airbags are available this year, but only on the LX trim level. The Crown Victoria has done well in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests; for 2002, it earned double five stars for frontal crash and double four stars for side impact testing. With a crash-severity sensor, safety belt pre-tensioners, dual-stage airbags and seat-position sensors, this full-size sedan protects occupants like few smaller cars can. Added standards like EBD, brake assist, traction control and power adjustable pedals boost the Crown Victoria's safety content even more.

Interior Design and Special Features: If you've ridden in a taxi cab recently, you know that the Crown Victoria's strength is not inventive interior design. For better or for worse, it's basic, roomy and comfortable. A cavernous trunk of 20.6 cubic feet will swallow any luggage you might have. The Crown Vic can seat six passengers thanks to a column-mounted shifter and a front bench seat. Driving Impressions/Opinions: 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. 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.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.