It's big, it's black, and it reminds me of my buddy John Schilling's police car. I wouldn't want this thing to be looming
large in my rear view mirror.
The Mercury Marauder is essentially a beefed-up version of the Grand Marquis, which in turn is a tarted-up Ford Crown Victoria.
It rides on a chassis that was designed when Ronald Reagan was still President... and I mean "chassis" in the old-fashioned
sense, as opposed to the platforms that are the basis for most modern automobiles. The layout — front engine, rear drive
— is equally traditional. In plainer words, the Marauder is a throwback tossed forward, in this case to help Mercury
maintain some presence as it develops long-overdue new products.
Speaking of presence, no one can argue that the Marauder lacks character. Though subdued rather than flashy, styling changes
from the Crown Vic make a statement that has power and performance written all over it. Puts one in mind of the late Chevrolet
Impala SS, the last American car to be built in the tradition of big, beefy, muscular sedans. The engine, a 4.6 liter 32-valve,
overhead-cam V-8, produces 302 horsepower and 310 ft. lbs. of torque, working with a slick 4-speed automatic that allows shifts
close to the redline. The combination hurtles this two-ton machine from rest to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds.
Even standing still, it becomes obvious that the Marauder is a serious piece of business. The twin exhaust pipes look,
as one critic put it, "like cannons," and the sound is similar to the rumble of distant artillery, though little of this comes
through to the interior, at least at cruising speeds. A blacked-out grille and fog lights inserted in the bumper add to a
slightly sinister appearance.
Ford has done considerable work on that outdated chassis to help the Marauder maintain composure at high speeds and through
the bends. Rack-and-pinion steering replaces the old recirculating ball unit, with a slightly firmer feel to the power assist.
Monotube shocks by Topicko allow more precise tuning of the suspension. 18-inch, five-spoke wheels and performance tires keep
the rubber on the road, while adding to the impressive appearance.
Laurence Ulrich of the Detroit Free Press drove the Marauder on Ford's Dearborn track and said in his review that
"the Marauder delivers surprising handling grip for a sedan that weighs about as much as an Explorer. The ride is firm but
not excessive, banishing the moon-walk float of a Grand Marquis." The Car Connection's Marty Padgett tried the Marauder
on Virginia's highways and wrote, "once you modify your driving style to accommodate the motion of the Marauder’s 4165-lb
heft, it becomes fairly simple to push it into a corner, rotate it gently with a squeeze on the gas, and let the 18-inch tires
claw their way out."
All is not smiles and light, though. Ulrich: "The Marauder can still remind you that you're driving a vehicle with a body
mounted to a separate steel frame, not a modern unit-body design... shudders emanate through the body when you encounter chuckholes.
Asphalt dips and heaves set the body to swaying." Padgett: "The ride quality won’t remind you of any German sedan. It’s
far too plush... although the average Marquis driver might think he’s stumbled on the long-fabled de Sade edition."
At least the shifter is on the floor, where it belongs. And the interior design is contemporary, with white dials and a
wide band of brushed aluminum underlining the instrument panel across its entire width. Bucket seats are fitted, although,
as Marty Padgett complained, "unique sport seats can’t overcome the vast side-by-side room and slick leather seating
offered up by the basic large-car architecture."
There is still, in North America, a cadre of drivers who recall with fondness the days when one could choose from any number
of large, plush, flashy sedans powered by massive, rumbling V-8's. These gentlemen, and maybe their sons if they were old
enough to be influenced, are the limited target market. Women will hate this car, with it's in-your-face machoism. Younger
buyers, weaned on lighter, nimbler automobiles, won't be interested.
Yet there is something grand, something magnificently impressive about the Marauder, that may stir more than a few souls
at first sight. Sort of like watching a battleship return to port, you might say.
— Philip Powell