2000 Lincoln Town Car Cartier L

2000 Lincoln Town Car Cartier L 2000 Lincoln Town Car Cartier L
Short Take Road Test

The tires on the Lincoln Town Car Cartier L say a lot about what kind of car it is. Specifically, it has P225/70SR-16 Michelin Symmetry tires designed for limos and hearses. All we did was look at the tires, and we got the feeling this is a car we would rather ride in than drive. We would be correct.

The Town Car Cartier L is the first factory-produced long-wheelbase Town Car. Its wheelbase is six inches longer than a standard Town Car's, and rear-seat room is increased from 54 cubic feet to a cavernous 62. As if the extra room weren't enough, the Cartier L package has more limolike features. Lift up the rear center-armrest cover, and you'll find controls for the radio and A/C and a switch that moves the right front seat forward for even more legroom. The window lock switch on the driver's door disables the seat switch, but not the radio and A/C controls.

Other Cartier L extras located in the rear seating area include headrests, cigarsize ashtrays in each door, storage pockets in the doors, "Cartier L" labels on the C-pillars, two electrical outlets in the center armrest, flip-down vanity mirrors and lights in the headliner, heated seats, a one-piece floor mat, and wider-opening door hinges. The Cartier L package-it also comes with chrome wheels and a heavy-duty battery-costs $5005.

From its profile, the Cartier L looks like a Town Car with longer rear doors. Black molding along the front edge of the rear door's glass makes the B-pillar look wider, and this eliminated the need for Lincoln to fabricate all-new glass for the rear doors. This modified B-pillar is so wide that you have to strain your neck backward and for-ward to see what might be hiding behind it when turning into oncoming traffic.

The back seat is a pleasant enough place to hang out and relax, but the same can't be said of the front-particularly the driver's seat. Go around a corner at even modest speeds, and the Town Car's body reacts immediately. We're going to avoid nautical references, but let's just say that body roll is significant. A curb weight of 4268 pounds, about 250 pounds more than a regular Town Car, doesn't help matters much. Skidpad grip is 0.76 g, 0.02 g less than the regular model. Acceleration suffers, too. The Cartier L goes from 0 to 60 in 9.3 seconds, 1.1 seconds slower than the short-wheelbase Town Car. But, you say, why even try for sports-car handling in a limo? We aren't, but going down the road with little idea of what the tires and suspension are doing can make even rear-seat passengers nervous.

The steering is equally uninspiring. There is virtually zero steering effort or feel. You turn the wheel, see what the car will do, and then correct accordingly. Small bumps in the road make the steering wheel quiver in discomfort, like Frank Gifford does every time he orders a drink from a flight attendant. You know the sublime steering of a BMW 540? This is the opposite.

But when this doughboy is driven in a calm, straight-down-the-road sort of way, the Town Car Cartier L feels like an isolation chamber. It's serene, and on a smooth road the ride is so soft that if you close your eyes, you might think you were in a Lexus. Interior sound at 70 mph is 66 dBA, only 1 dBA louder than an LS400.

So what will this Town Car Cartier L compete with? Earlier this year, Accubuilt (formerly S&S/Superior of Ohio) started producing the Cadillac DES, or DeVille Executive Sedan. Cadillac has supervised engineering on the DES from the beginning, and the DES is sold through Cadillac dealerships. The DES is six inches longer than a regular DeVille and comes with a stretched rear door and rear-door glass. We haven't driven a DES yet, but we'll tell you how it compares with the Cartier L when we do.

It's obvious that the Lincoln Town Car Cartier L is not our first choice for a luxury sedan. It's a sloth when it comes to handling, and nothing about it is fun to drive. But excluding fully decked-out limousines, few cars concentrate so specifically on pampering rear-seat passengers. And absolutely, the Lincoln Town Car Cartier L's back seat is a pleasant place to pass time-that is, as long as your view isn't obstructed by a casket.