You, too, can feel like a movie star on Academy Awards night, rolling up curbside in a roomy Lincoln Town Car.
Starting this year, Lincoln -- whose limos handle the star-studded Oscar crowd, executives and other assorted dignitaries -- began offering the first factory-built, long-wheelbase version of its Town Car for everyday folks. Well, at least folks who have $50,000 to spend on a very big luxury sedan.
The 2000 Lincoln Town Car Cartier L -- the L is for long -- adds 6 inches to the 117.7-inch wheelbase of the full-size Town Car.
The resulting 123.7-inch Cartier L wheelbase gives back-seat riders an almost decadent 47.1 inches of legroom and easily bests the Cadillac DeVille, which has a 115.3-inch wheelbase and 43.2 inches of rear-seat legroom.
2000 Lincoln Town Car Cartier L
BASE PRICE: $38,830 for base Town Car Executive; $40,830 for Town Car Signature; $43,330 for Town Car Cartier.
AS TESTED: $49,660.
TYPE: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive, six-passenger, full-size sedan.
ENGINE: 4.6-liter, single overhead cam V8.
MILEAGE: 18 mpg (city), 25 mpg (highway).
TOP SPEED: NA.
LENGTH: 221.3 inches.
WHEELBASE: 123.7 inches.
CURB WT.: 4,115 pounds.
OPTIONS: Cartier L package (includes extended wheelbase, dual illuminated vanity mirrors in back seat, heavy-duty battery, rear-seat lighting, rear seat heaters, upgraded, white sidewall tires) $5,005; trunk-mounted CD changer $605.
Even riders in Jaguar's long-wheelbase luxury model, the Vanden Plas, have to make do with just 39.2 inches in back.
The Cartier L is about more than just room, though.
This luxomobile comes with a number of features frequently seen in limousines. It has, for example, two pull-down, illuminated vanity mirrors in the back-seat ceiling.
Besides the extra room, the L version -- a $5,005 optional package for the Town Car Cartier -- adds a heavy-duty battery, white sidewall tires, rear-seat lighting, rear-seat heaters, audio and climate controls and two power points in the back-seat center armrest.
Other than those white sidewalls and badging, this super-sized Lincoln looks like other Town Cars -- until you notice the back doors. They're huge -- far wider than normal car doors.
They're impressive when opened, too. These doors open wide and stay open, making the Cartier L an easy car to get into, as long as it isn't scrunched up against another car in a parking lot.
Speaking of parking, it can take time to find a spot that fits this car. The Cartier L has the same 78.2-inch width as the regular Town Car, but its bumper-to-bumper length is a whopping 221.3 inches. That's 14.1 inches longer than the DeVille and a good foot or more longer than the average designated parking space.
Maneuvering into a parking spot at least requires little extra muscle -- the Town car has recirculating-ball steering with an exceptionally light feel. The easy steering and the rear-wheel drive's floaty ride nicely isolates the driver from the road. I felt scarcely a bump on the test drive.
Those white sidewalls, by the way, are 16-inchers, and the Town Car rides on an independent front suspension with short and long arms. In the rear, there's an air suspension with a four-bar link and Watt's linkage.
Antilock brakes with four-wheel discs are standard, but they still have to work hard to stop this big car, and the weight shifts forward pretty quickly. As you'd expect, there's a significant amount of body sway, too, in curves and on twisty mountain roads. This car is eminently comfortable on straight highway runs.
The 4.6-liter, single overhead cam V8 works smoothly with the four-speed automatic transmission. The power increases almost serenely. Even when I jammed down the accelerator, shift points were almost imperceptible. Horsepower is 275, and torque is 300 foot-pounds at 4,000 rpm.
But it wasn't always easy to modulate the Town Car's power -- when I let up on the accelerator, the car coasted at speed far longer than expected -- and I used the brake more than I would have preferred.
Fuel economy is rated at 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. In my test drive, however, I averaged just 17.8 mpg in combined city/highway driving.
Inside, the Cartier L retains a mostly old-style look. Seats are flat and nicely trimmed in leather. The dashboard is straight across, with nary a contour.
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