Pros: Beautiful Old School styling and solid build. V-8 power. Roomy and comfortable.
Cons: Annoying little problems. Mediocre fuel economy. Rather cheesy interior details.
My everyday car, a faded blue 1988 Buick Park Avenue, developed issues with its engine management system which would inexplicably cause the car to stall and refuse to start. When this issue compromised my safety by stalling in the middle of one of Philadelphia's worst intersections almost resulting in a rear-end collision by a red Honda Civic, I figured it was time to bid adieu to "Old Blue."
On Saturday, March 28, 2009, I replaced my aging but faithful Park Ave with a used 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis LS Premium sedan finished in "Vibrant White Clearcoat" with a "Medium Parchment," (beige) leather interior. Unfortunately, it also has one of those ridiculous "roadster tops" with pretentious "Collectors' Edition" script emboidered on the C-pillars. Hey, it's used and appears to be in good condition, so I guess I can compromise!
It is powered by a 4.6 litre V-8 single overhead cam 16-valve Fuel-Injected engine rated at 224 hp at 4800 rpm and 275 ft-lbs, of torque at 4000 rpm. It is mated to 4-Speed automatic transmission shifted via the column. The car is of ther rear wheel drive configuration featuring the classic short and long arm independent front suspension and a multi-link rear suspension. It features disk brakes at all four corners employing a standard four-wheel antilock braking system. Other safety features are the driver's and passenger side airbags. Side airbags are optional. Traction control is standard and can be deactivated via a switch to the left of the steering wheel. Overdrive can be and engaged and disengaged via a button on the end of the column-mounted shift lever. It has a single exhaust exiting out the right rear of the car, but dual exhaust appears to be available for the Grand Marquis due to the cutout on the left side of the rear bumper. It is shod with P225/60R16 T-rated Michelin T-rated all-season tires mounted on ten-spoke aluminum alloy wheels.
It has a huge deep trunk with 20.6 cubic feet of of space. What? No cargo net? Of course there is the ever-present almost useless donut tire, but a full-size spare is an option. There is a reset button for the fuel cut-off switch on the left side of the trunk.
The instrument panel features three semi-circular guages - a larger speedometer in the center flanked by two small guages housing analog ammeter and fuel guages on the left and analog temperature and oil pressure guages on the right. Hmmm! Odd that there's no tachometer which I thought was de rigueur in modern cars. It also has the usual constellation of idiot lights. You can adjust the foot pedals via a button to the left of the steering wheel which I think is a cool feature as I'm rather tall and hefty whereas my wife is short and petite. The heater controls are confusing. It has a plethora of buttons of various sizes and I'm still trying to get used to them versus the rather intuitive controls on my other cars. One thing Ford definitely does right is the air conditioning. I'd be confident keeping ice cream in the car in the middle of July while parked an asphalt parking lot with the A/C engaged!
The steering wheel is leather-wrapped and manually tilts via a small lever near the 7 o'clock position on the column. Cruise control buttons are built into the steering wheel spokes. Trouble is, there is no light on the instrument panel to tell the driver the cruise control is engaged. Also, the car has a huge transmission hump that intrudes into the foot space for both driver and front passenger. Don't even think of putting somebody in the center. The car also has a AM/FM stereo with CD which delivers decent but not spectacular sound. The front ash tray pulls out to reveal two cupholders, but I wouldn't put anything larger than a 12-ounce soda can in them due to their awkward placement and flimsy construction which might leave your "Big Gulp" splattered all over the dashboard.
The six way power seats are adjusted via Mercedes-esque controls on the front doors. Lumbar support is via a small button on the sides of the lower cushion. The trunk may be opened via a locking chrome button on the driver's door.
The rear passenger compartment is very spacious and features a fold-down central armrest and adjustable reading lamps near the center edge of the rear window. There are child seat mounts on the rear package shelf and rear doors feature child safety locks. If you're accustomed to the leather upholstery of more upscale cars, you're going to be disappointed with the Grand Marquis' leather which seems more like heavy vinyl than leather. The imitation wood trim also looks rather fake. There are also no rear ashtrays, though you could see where they were once mounted in the rear door arm rests prior to smoking being deemed "politically incorrect."
The Grand Marquis is happy on regular fuel, but I run mine on Sunoco Ultra 93. It has a rather small 19 gallon fuel tank. Fuel economy is 16 City/ 23 Hwy with an average of 19 MPG. The ride is ultra smooth and it handles rather well for a platform that dates back to 1979, however, I feel the braking is rather weak. It also doesn't seem to be as powerful as I'd expect and there seems to be a delay in acceleration when I mash down on the gas pedal. Suprisingly, the car is easy to park.
I've had two annoying problems with my car so far. About a month after my purchase the ABS and Traction Control lights were illuminated. This turned out to be a malfunctioning sensor in the right front wheel and the repair cost $250. A weirder problem occured on May 30th when the windshield wipers refused to deactivate. I bet I looked rather foolish with my wipers going on a bright sunny day! I immediately brought it in for repair which cost $590! Ouch! It turned out to be the wiper motor and switch.
In conclusion, the Mercury Grand Marquis is a great car if you're a fan of big old school full-frame V-8-powered rear-wheel drive sedans, but I feel it is a bit antiquated to be truly competitive this day in age. There are better values among the Marquis' more modern domestic and foreign competitors. If this kind of car is your bag, hurry up and get one while you still can - I believe 2009 is the Grand Marquis' final year.