The 2003 Town Car receives a stiffer frame that improves the ride, better brakes and steering, more horsepower and torque and a larger, reconfigured trunk.
Sales begin next summer. The car will be on display at Detroit's North American International Auto Show in January.
Lincoln spokesman Jim Cain said the automaker enlisted a group of Town Car owners - current and retired Ford employees - to recommend changes for the 2003 model. Other suggestions came from limousine drivers. Both groups said they wanted more usable trunk space.
The solution was to move the mini spare tire to the right side of the trunk, where it now is positioned vertically. This freed up a large area behind the rear seat.
Lincoln also restyled the rear fenders and trunk lid to create an opening that is 7.8 inches wider and slightly lower than that on the 2002 Town Car.
Automatic trunk lidA new feature on Cartier models is a trunk lid that can be raised or lowered at the push of a button. Other Town Car models are equipped with a self-locking trunk lid for the first time.
Other changes for 2003 include:
The 2003 Town Car is trimmed on the interior with a satin nickel finish instead of glossy chrome. Mike Crowley, Lincoln group brand manager, said the more muted nickel finish is now part of the Lincoln look and will turn up on all subsequent products.
Slipping salesTen-month sales for the Town Car totaled 57,385, compared with 70,178 for the year-ago period. The average age of a Town Car buyer is 70.
Lincoln plans to sell about 70,000 Town Cars in 2002, Crowley said. Sixty-five percent of Town Car sales are expected to be retail units, he said.
Lincoln will continue to offer the Town Car Cartier L and Executive L models. Both models are stretched six inches, providing additional legroom for rear seat passengers. The Executive L is available only to the limousine business.
Rick Brisson, Town Car brand manager, said the Cartier L accounts for about 3,600 sales annually, with an equal number for the Executive L.
The price difference between the standard Cartier sedan and the Cartier L is $4,510 for the 2002 model. Prices for the 2003 model have not been announced.