Used 1997 Ford Thunderbird Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1997

The Thunderbird receives few updates this year. A revised center console, a few new colors, and standard four-wheel disc brakes are the big news for 1997.

Vehicle overview

The long-lived Thunderbird has received many exterior and interior refinements over the last few years. Nonetheless, the Thunderbird is looking a bit staid when compared to fresher offerings like the Pontiac Grand Prix coupe or the Nissan 240SX. Considering all of the upheaval in the FoMoCo lines the last two years, it comes as no surprise that a new Thunderbird is being penned in the Dearborn design studios that will share a platform with the next-generation Mustang.

This doesn't mean that we don't like the Thunderbird. In fact, we think that it is one of the wisest choices in the personal coupe segment. An optional 4.6-liter V8 engine, rear-wheel drive, four-wheel disc brakes, rack-and-pinion steering, optional traction control and a very reasonable price make this an ideal car for people who like to drive, but are constrained by budget and the need for a more mature car then, say, a Chevy Camaro. Slap on the Sport Option, premium sound system, and leather seats and then ask yourself why anyone would spend the extra $15,000 it takes to get into a Lincoln Mark VIII.

Changes for 1997 include the addition of four-wheel disc brakes and driver's side courtesy lights to the standard equipment list and the deletion of the underhood light and leather-wrapped shift knob. Of course, there is also the usual random shuffling of package options -- the leather-wrapped shift knob mysteriously re-appears in Preferred Equipment Package 157A -- and the addition and deletion of various paint and interior colors.

People looking for an unpretentious, fun-to-drive car that has a lot of class at a good price are advised to check out their local Ford dealer and see if the Thunderbird offers the right set of wings. There is a reason that this car has been around for so long.

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.