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 2004 Luxury Buyer's Guide
by Martha Hindes

Lincoln Town Car
Lincoln Town Car

Times are when there's nothing better than driving in pure comfort. The feeling is just so good. (Like tucking your bare toes under the cushion edge of an overstuffed chair as you pore over a good novel.)

There are no exaggerated road bumps to jar you. No sliding sideways as you careen around a corner a little too fast just to show off the motor-on-wheels and barely bottom-sized cockpit. That's not what Lincoln's Town Car is about. You could classify it, instead, as touchy-feely. We choose it for its height-boosting adjustable pedals; steady handling and solid, time-tested ride under girded by Five Star governmental crashworthy scores in all five categories (a ranking that brought it a top Consumer Reports recommendation.)

We choose it for those who prefer to travel in unabashed, spacey rear-drive comfort for as many as six, without having to climb to near sport utility heights to eke out sufficient space. The sixth person is a bit of a stretch here. But name one other full-size, full-powered luxury car with a drop down front seat armrest that converts to a mid-row seat with lap- belt or can pop out a dual cup holder for those long drive coffee breaks.

Here's luxury in formal dress that won't cramp the style of rear seat passengers as the standard 4.6-liter, 239 hp V-8 guides it down the road - with regular instead of high test generating respectable mileage (from 17 to 25 EPA). A side-mounted, space saver spare leaves low-bottomed room for gear above a rear leveling suspension for heavy trunk loads. Obstacle sensors give you plenty of "beep" room when backing up. Among options: A six-disc CD changer and probing high intensity headlamps to keep long, lonely stretches of roadway in view. For '05, Lincoln adds SIRIUS satellite radio (via dealer) through the touch screen navigation system.

The American-made Town Car ratchets from the $40 to $50 K range -- a lot of vehicle for the money when compared with some competitive models. Our test model inspired one admirer, considering coast-to-coast travel, to call it "the car I would want if I had a lot of driving to do."

Acura RL Luxury SedanJaguar XJ Long Wheelbase
BMW 645 CiLexus LS 430
Cadillac STSLincoln Town Car
Chrysler 300CMercedes-Benz S-Class
Infiniti Q45Volkswagen Phaeton