- Well-proven, reliable design
- Ridiculously huge trunk
- Passes safety tests without modern equipment
- Ancient mechanical layout
- Lost-in-the-past styling
- Not fit for curvy roads
An ancient but roomy design and performance that trails nearly every other new car means that most people will be better off looking elsewhere.
Mercury's largest sedan continues to provide traditional American-car values, with rear-wheel drive, a standard V-8 engine, and a spacious six-passenger interior with a roomy 20.6-cubic-foot trunk. The 2008 Mercury Grand Marquis is closely related to the Ford Crown Victoria, which for the 2008 model year is only available to fleet buyers.
The Grand Marquis hasn't seen a complete redesign since 1992. Its proportions have remained intact even longer, and the body-on-frame platform it's built on dates back nearly 30 years.
That said, its engine is more modern; the standard 224-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8 engine in the 2008 Mercury Grand Marquis provides adequate, but not spirited, acceleration. It may also be ordered with E85/flex-fuel capability in some regions. A four-speed automatic is standard.
The Marquis is quiet and comfortable, with a relatively smooth ride and relaxed handling; the suspension's inadequacies are evident, though, when the pavement turns curvy and rough, and the ride gets queasy. The front seats--an unusual bench seat arrangement good for three across--do little to hold you in place; they're very softly cushioned but unsupportive, and the driving position is oddly reclined. The backseat is very roomy, with space for three adults to sprawl out, for a total of up to six. The trunk opens wide and is large enough to fit several large suitcases, along with odds and ends.
The standard engine's power can be goosed a bit if you order the optional Handling Package (LS models only), which adds dual exhausts and boosts the engine's output to 239 horsepower.
For 2008, the lineup has been simplified to two models: the base GS and the up-level LS. A Palm Beach package--your dead giveaway to the target audience--includes side airbags and other upgrades. The GS comes with air conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry, and a basic AM/FM/CD sound system. The LS adds leather upholstery, fog lamps, heated mirrors, adjustable pedals, automatic climate control, and alloy wheels.
Three new packages are offered for the 2008 model year as well; a GS Comfort Appearance Package adds leather, a power driver seat, and painted wheels, while the GS Confidence Package includes power mirrors and traction control. The LS Travel Package gets a CD player. Other options include a power moonroof, heated seats, and rear air suspension. Modern options such as a Bluetooth interface or a navigation system aren't at all offered.
Four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes are standard, but front side airbags are optional, and electronic stability control is not offered. With the optional side airbags, the Grand Marquis has done quite well in crash tests for such an old design, earning top five-star marks in frontal and side-impact tests, as well as "good" ratings from the IIHS in frontal impact and "marginal" in side and rear impacts.