Premium large car; Built in USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door sedan
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,600 – $29,200*


2003 Lincoln Town Car


2004 Lincoln Town Car


2005 Lincoln Town Car


Lincoln Town Car interior

Pros:
  • Cargo room
  • Passenger room
  • Quietness
  • Ride
Cons:
  • Fuel economy
  • Rear visibility

Town Cars shine for traditional American-style luxury, space, and isolation. Not nimble, this sedan has a welcome measure of dynamic confidence and ride control. Cadillac’s DeVille still has an edge with its more modern engineering, but the Town Car is a thoughtful take on a time-honored formula.

Overview

Revised styling and underskin mechanical changes highlighted the 2003 revamp of the lone American-brand rear-wheel-drive, full-size luxury sedan. Lincoln’s Town Car models ascend through the Executive, Signature, and Cartier trim levels, topped by a limousinelike Cartier L that adds 6 inches to the wheelbase.

All retained a 4.6-liter V8, but the dual-exhaust version with 239 horsepower was now standard–14 more hp than the 2002 single-exhaust edition. A four-speed automatic was the sole transmission. Standard traction control carried over, but no antiskid system was offered.

New for 2003 were a revamped frame and suspension, different steering system, and standard 17-inch tires vs. 16s. Antilock four-wheel disc brakes were standard, now with full-power “panic assist.”

In addition to reworked front and rear sheetmetal, the Town Car got a restyled dashboard with a dual-zone climate system and CD/cassette audio. Front side airbags were now standard, but no rear or curtain side airbags were available. Power-adjustable pedals, leather upholstery, and a front bench seat were standard. A rear-obstacle-detection system was optional on the Executive, and standard elsewhere.

High-intensity headlamps were a Cartier option. Available on all Town Cars was Lincoln’s Vehicle Communications System, providing “one-button” emergency assistance and information services. (Sprint cell service was required.)

Luxury-sedan rivals are few, led by the front-drive Cadillac DeVille and rear-drive Lexus LS 430.

Yearly Updates

2004 Town Car
Satellite radio became available for the first time in a Town Car, as a dealer-installed option. Trim levels this year included the Signature, Ultimate, and limousinelike Ultimate L, which added 6 inches to the wheelbase to create more rear leg room. The base Executive of 2003 was gone. All Town Cars now had a standard rear-obstacle-detection system. High-intensity headlamps and a navigation system were optional.
2005 Town Car
Trim-level choices changed again for 2005, to Signature, Signature Limited, and limousinelike Signature L.
2006 Town Car
For 2006, Town Car added a new Designer Series model to its trim lineup. The Designer model was basically a retrimmed Limited.
2007 Town Car
Town Car carried over unchanged.
2008 Town Car
A navigation system was no longer available on 2008 models.
2009 Town Car
The Town Car received no major changes for 2009.
2010 Town Car
For 2010, the Town Car Signature Limited received a Continental Edition Package, which includes specific interior and exterior trim.
2011 Town Car
There were no changes of note to the 2011 Town Car.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

All Town Cars hold the same powertrain: an overhead-cam 4.6-liter V8 engine rated at 239 horsepower, driving a four-speed automatic transmission.

ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.6/281
Engine HP 239
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 287
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

17/25

Road Test

Town Car trails Cadillac’s DeVille for overall acceleration, though it’s quick enough. A test Ultimate L sedan accelerated to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds. The transmission hesitates to kick down for passing, but is otherwise responsive and smooth, though most rivals have five-speed automatics.

An Ultimate L averaged 16 mpg, hurt slightly by gas-eating performance tests. Lincoln recommends regular-grade fuel.

Ride quality ranks as American-luxury traditional. Absorbent and hushed, the Town Car’s suspension delivers fine body control over humps. Patter is nicely checked on washboard surfaces.

A Town Car leans more in turns than import-brand rivals. Steering is slightly overboosted, but precise, and provides good road feel. Traction control is a must for snowy climates, though this system tends to kill power at just the wrong moment for maintaining speed on slippery surfaces. Braking is short and stable for a heavyweight, with fair but non-alarming nosedive in sudden stops.

Noise levels are fine, but not best in class. The engine is muted even at full throttle, and tire thrum is noticed only on very coarse pavement. Wind rush rises above 60 mph, but does not intrude.

Tradition-bound instruments and controls reside in a no-surprises layout. Power-adjustable pedals help shorter drivers. Over-the-shoulder visibility is hampered by thick roof pillars. Switchgear is too generic, but interior materials approach those of some costlier import-brand rivals.

Three can squeeze into the standard front bench seat, but the middle rider will straddle the transmission hump. Head room and outboard leg room are abundant. The extended-length L’s bountiful 46.9 inches of rear leg room is tops in class among regular factory models. Other Town Cars have good leg room, as well as generous head clearance, but three adults are a squeeze into the rear as well as the front. Also, the rear bench isn’t as sofa-comfortable as it looks.

Most trunk space is concentrated in a deep center well, so shifting heavy objects is a strain. The spare tire is mounted vertically inside the right rear fender. A useful removable bin, with lids and partitions, has been available for Ultimate models.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2004 Town Car Ultimate L

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 8
80%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 8
80%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 8
80%
Cargo Room - 6
60%

Other

Value - 4
40%

Total: 61

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
117.7 215.4 78.2 58.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
21.0 19.0 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.3 37.6 45.8 41.1
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
123.7 221.4 78.2 58.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
21.0 19.0 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.3 37.9 45.8 46.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2003 Town Car 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Blower motor
Description: The blower motor may quit working or switch to another speed without input from the driver requiring a new wiring harness from the blower motor speed controller. (2003-04)
Clutch
Description: When starting from a stop, it may feel that the vehicle lacks power or is upshifting too soon due to the torque converter clutch engagement caused by a problem check ball in the transmission valve body. (2005-06)
Engine noise
Description: Some 4.6L engines may develop a ticking sound from the engine at idle requiring replacement of the cylinder head and camshaft assembly. (2003-04)
Keyless entry
Description: The remote keyless entry and the keypad quit working due to a short in the wiring, usually under the seat. (2002-04)
Radiator
Description: The engine may occasionally overheat and/or the air conditioning may not cool properly due to a bad radiator fan motor. (2006-07)
Water leak
Description: Water leaks into the trunk when the deck lid is opened requiring plugging the drain holes with foam-backed tape. (2006-09)
Wheels
Description: The rear wheels may chatter during low speed turns requiring installation of a revised clutch pack in the 8.8-inch, limited slip differential. (2003-05)
Battery
Description: The battery warning light may come on due to lack of charging from alternator if vehicle is started, put in gear and driven before engine speed has returned to idle. (2003)
Electrical problem
Description: The radiator fan motor may stop working requiring a new wire between the powertrain control module (computer) and fan motor. (2003)
Transmission problems
Description: There may be as much as a 2 second delay for the transmission to engage reverse due to a weak detent spring and/or shifter cable adjustment. (2002-04)

Recall History

2003 fleet/police cars
Description: Wheel bearings and axles could become overloaded due to high loads, leading to early bearing failure and ultimately to axle-shaft fracture.
2005
Description: Battery cable’s fusible link on some cars may contact and subsequently chafe on cross-member bolt, which may result in heat damage and possible fire.
2007
Description: A front wheel bearing and hub assembly may fracture due to improper heat treatment. As a result, the wheel may separate from the vehicle potentially resulting in a crash. Dealers will inspect and replace affected parts.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.