Large V8-powered sedans made a comeback in the 21st century, but the Ford Crown Victoria was one of the very few full-size, rear-drive sedans that never left. The "Crown Vic" moniker goes back several decades to when Ford adopted the name for a high-line trim level on the full-size LTD sedan, as baby boomers and their elders no doubt recall. The LTD name was dropped in 1992.
The Crown Vic's model run continued uninterrupted until 2007, the last year it was available for consumer purchase. However, it is still produced for fleet use by law enforcement and other agencies.
Unlike its more modern competition, the throwback Ford Crown Victoria uses stout but heavy body-on-frame construction and a solid rear axle. The ride and handling envelope suffered somewhat as a result, but it is a durable and cost-effective approach -- which, no doubt, is why it's so popular with cab companies, police departments and fleet operators.
For the car's most recent redesign in 2003, Ford fitted it with an all-new frame, a redesigned front suspension and rack-and-pinion steering, all of which improved the big Vic's crash performance and handling dynamics. But, equipped like a Police Interceptor or not, it still couldn't match the agility and overall refinement of its American and Japanese peers, which feature modern unibody designs with fully independent suspensions.
Most Recent Ford Crown Victoria
Last produced for civilian use for the 2007 model year, the Ford Crown Victoria was a full-size, six-passenger sedan available in base and LX trim levels. The LX model had a few extra upscale features and also allowed access to a couple optional packages such as the premium handling and performance package (previously known as the LX Sport trim level).
Despite its 2-ton curb weight, the Crown Victoria was reasonably quick thanks to a 4.6-liter V8 engine with 224 horsepower and 272 pound-feet of torque; LX models equipped with the upgraded performance package were a bit swifter, with 239 horses and 287 lb-ft of torque. A four-speed automatic was the only transmission available, although Crown Vics equipped with the sport package also had an upgraded torque converter and shorter rear-axle gearing that made for quicker initial acceleration off the line.
Inside, the dated design and budget materials quality were immediately apparent. The vehicle's strengths were reflected in its solid value for the money and the roomy, comfortable accommodations for five or six. This included a huge 21-cubic-foot trunk that could easily swallow a week's worth of luggage for four adults or a family.
In reviews, we found that the Ford Crown Victoria delivered a forgiving ride quality. Handling was acceptable but sloppy, and there was just no getting around this big sedan's decades-old design, substantial weight and large dimensions. If you're looking for nothing more than a simple family cruiser or roomy commuter, a used, well-kept Crown Vic will perform admirably. But if you want a full-size V8 sedan that also feels nimble and refined, we believe you'll be happier with this Ford's more modern competition, such as a Chrysler 300.
Past Ford Crown Victoria Models
Though it's received a variety of updates in the past 15 years, the most recent Crown Victoria is still basically the same car as it was back in 1992, the time of the last major redesign.
The most recent body style dates back to 1998, though in 2003 it received an all-new chassis under that now-familiar body shell. The suspension design was largely the same, but it featured many updates and incorporated more responsive rack-and-pinion steering for the first time. Antilock brakes were made standard that year, and front side airbags were available on both the LX and LX Sport.
The Crown Victoria was dramatically restyled for 1998 by adopting the formal roof line previously used exclusively on its Mercury Grand Marquis twin. Powertrains were revised to deliver more power, and the rear suspension was tweaked to improve handling. There were only detail changes until 2001 when adjustable pedals were first offered, and the engine was tweaked yet again to boost output to 220 hp on the base and LX models and a dual-exhaust-enabled 235 hp on the LX Sport.
Following the end of the previous model's long run, the '92 Ford Crown Victoria debuted with a restyled body and a new-generation, overhead-cam 4.6-liter V8 rated at 190 or 210 hp that we found much smoother and more powerful than the ancient overhead-valve V8s it replaced. Minor improvements carried through to 1995, when a new grille, lighting, bumpers, trunk lid and modified dash arrived. After that, not much changed until the next big update three years later.