America's best selling full-sized sedan of the mid 1990's, the Crown Victoria, has always been one of my favorite large cars. In the late '90s it offered high levels of refinement that its predecessors just didn't have. While dated by todays standards, the 1997 Crown Vic held its own in the mid 90s, not only as federal and state law enforcement units, but as a civilized large sedan.
The 1997 Crown Victoria weighs almost 3,900 lbs and only has 190 horsepower to move it; you automatically think "slow." Not by any means is the Crown Victoria fast, but it does surprisingly well in the off-the-line performance category. Not only is this Ford strong off the line, but the 4.6 liter is smooth all the way to redline. With only 260 lb-ft of torque, the 97 Crown Victoria also did well on hills, not needing to downshift to accelerate up the steepest inclines. While not doing it fast, in time this heavy weight accelerated quite well up the hills.
Cruising is very smooth, engine noise can not be heard under normal use, bumps are taken extremely well, and vibration is also isolated. The 1997 Crown Vic also handles very well for a car of its mass. The suspension is softly sprung, so the Crown Victoria has a tendency to pitch and wallow, but holds the road surprisingly well, especially compared to the '80s models. Despite the large radials, body lean can be alarming around corners and the steering feels somewhat vague. Don't get me wrong, while not exactly nimble, this car did handle well for a vehicle in its category.
Braking was only average, my test car (owned by a family member) was only adequate. I'm not sure if this is because the brakes had not been changed or what, but at 54,000 miles this car needed a heavy foot to stop this behemoth. Brakes are front discs with Drums in the rear; ABS in an option; my test car had the ABS brakes. NOTE:
This car only comes with a 4-speed automatic transmission.
The interior, while only moderately dated back in 1997, is now considered a dinosaur set-up. Everything was so simple in this car and plain. The dash is more 1980-ish than anything I have seen in the late '90s. Inside, there is a thin, semi tacky wood strip that lines the middle of the dash like an equator and cheap plastics everywhere. The steering wheel was not as thick as I would have liked it to have been, however it was not too bad. Test car came with AC, power everything, a tachometer, and a premium sound system (no CD player). Ergonomics are good, everything is well placed, but there really weren't too many amenities in this car; relatively speaking. The Crown Victoria makes very good use of the space provided, offering more legroom in the rear. The seats are comfortable and supportive, and the drivers position is excellent.
while loads better looking than its predecessor, is a little dated. Even for 1997 this car is lacking the modern appearance of cars like the large Dodge Intrepid, Chrysler LH, and many other cars in this class. Even after 1991, the Crown Victoria's boxy appearance was replaced by slick aerodynamic lines, but it retained a conservative look which suits more buyers.
Price & Reliability:
In 1997 the price for the Crown Victoria was around $24,000, Today with bad resale, and a newer '98 model out that is much more desired, the 1997 Crown Vic can be had for less than half for what it ran for when it was new. Reliability at 54,000 miles was quite disappointing after listening to a story I had heard, the owner of this car had spent almost 2,000 dollars in repairs after the warranty wore out. He even said that the car now used oil. I'm not sure if this is a common problem with the Crown Victoria's, so please check around before buying one.
The Crown Victoria represents an excellent value in the used car market. The ride is relatively plush, and serves every purpose it is meant to serve with honors. Despite the fact that some more power on tap would be useful, this car is recommended 100% to anyone looking for a used full sized family cruiser.
-Happy Car Shopping!
Amount Paid (US$):
1997Model and Options:
Crown Victoria, 4 speed automatic