Pros: retro styling, image, attracts attention wherever it goes, good passing power
Cons: rather heavy, shares too many parts w/Lincoln LS, headroom for taller folks, gas mileage
After a 5-year "break" Ford finally restores its new Thunderbird. The Thunderbird has gone through many changes over the years. Now, Ford has decided to bring back the T-Bird with the same "essence" as the original.
EXTERIOR: Unmistakable, 1950's Thunderbird in a clean, modern setup. The styling is very eye-catching to say the least. Bits of chrome here and there add a bit of elegance to what is otherwise a sporty roadster. Wherever the car goes there is sure to be a crowd. I especially like the "eggcrate grill" and the hood scoop (even though it's not functional).
INTERIOR: About what you would expect in a 2-seat roadster, only a bit wider. With the top up I feel cramped. There is very little headroom for me. The driver's seat is power-adjustable 6-ways, the passenger, just 2. Personally, I like the power lumbar support. Entry/exit is actually pretty good too due mostly to the fact that the doors are not too long. The dashboard is shared with the Lincoln LS, though the T-Bird has its own gauges (black-on-white w/purplish/turquoise needles). It takes about 10 seconds for the power-operated soft top to fold down.
ENGINE: The new Thunderbird is powered by a 3.9-liter DOHC V-8 engine that produces 252 horsepower at 6,100 rpm, and 261 lb./ft. of torque at 4,300 rpm. It is mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. Both come directly out of the Lincoln LS. Personally, I was hoping that a 5- or 6-speed manual transmission would be available. Although the T-Bird's peak torque is at a rather high rpm, I feel it still provides good passing power even at low speeds. I averaged only 15.8 mpg on the recommended premium fuel during my short test drive.
HANDLING: With a curb weight of 3,775 pounds, the new T-Bird is not as agile as most other 2-seaters. There is little body lean in corners, and the 17-inch wheels provide good grip. Despite the weight, the car is fun to drive.
RIDE: Although it's not as smooth as the Lincoln LS (they share platforms) it rides better than most 2-seat roadsters. Ride-wise, it is much more comfortable than a comparatively-equipped Chrysler Prowler.
RELIABILITY: The car is too new to tell if it is reliable. It shares a LOT of parts with the Lincoln LS, though, but should be more reliable given that it is a brand new vehicle.
VALUE: Although more practical than most 2-seaters, the T-Bird does have its disadvantages as a 2-passenger roadster. All in all, I think the new 2002 Ford Thunderbird is in a class by itself!