Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Mercury Marauder Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Mercury Marauder Overview

Body
A Big Brooding V8 Bruiser in Basic Black

The Marauder name dates back to the heyday of Mercury's performance V8s. Amidst the company's more popular coupes like the Cougar and Comet emerged a full-size two-door sedan with rally wheels, distinctive side scoops and a monster V8 engine; its name was Marauder and it began a small revolution in full-size performance vehicles. Of course, in those days, suspensions were limited to solid axles and drum brakes all around, so the Marauder and its rivals basically were straight-line performance machines that spent most of their time lighting up make-shift drag strips and cruising the local strip on Saturday night.

Mercury has taken the basic idea of the first Marauder and brought it into the 21st century. The mission was to bring back a little piece of Americana in the form of a full-sized, rear-wheel drive V8 powered sedan but to give it the handling and braking performance of a modern-day sport sedan. The first step was to secure a solid rear-drive platform, a search that quickly brought the engineering team to the venerable Grand Marquis/Crown Victoria twins. Long a favorite of law enforcement across the land, this full-size body-on-frame chassis has been stiffened and improved over the years to the point where the only thing that could make it better would be a full redesign. With the chassis secured, the team went about applying its magic. A tweak here and a dab of black paint there and the new Marauder sprang to life; it now sits in your Mercury dealer's showroom just waiting for you to come relive the past.

The first time you lay eyes on the Marauder, you can't help but think this is exactly what Luke Skywalker must have felt like the first time he encountered Darth Vader. Menacing is too polite a term for the image this black beauty portrays. Walk around the Marauder and you'll find the only traces of chrome are on the wheels and badges; everything else from the grille to the tail lamps have been draped in a cloak of black. Now look a little closer and observe the small details that further distance the Marauder from its Grand Marquis roots. Squat down, and you'll notice the embossed head of the Roman god Mercury on each of the chromed center caps. Peer inside, and you'll see a full console with center-mounted shifter that flows into an additional gauge cluster for monitoring oil pressure and volts. Of course, you'd have to be blind not to notice the gorgeous 18-inch five spoke wheels surrounded by wide performance rubber. Overall, the Marauder is a very impressive package indeed.

To make the Marauder's moves match its good looks, Mercury dropped a 302-horsepower all-aluminum V8 under the hood. Today's battle to keep emissions down without sacrificing performance gave the current Marauder team a challenge their grand fathers never had to worry about. To make the most of the engine's torque yet still meet rigid EPA requirements, Mercury bolts on a 3.55 to 1 rear with a limited-slip differential and an 8.8-inch ring gear. Off-the-line-acceleration is impressive with this setup, though the engine's computer brain and the electronic four-speed automatic seem to conspire to temper the Marauder's ability to "light 'em up" as they say at the drag strip. Once in motion though, there is no mistaking the testosterone-laden growl of the big V8 as it sucks a mixture of air and fuel into the fiery combustion chamber and converts it into pure adrenaline-pumping acceleration.

Moving in a straight line is one thing, but today's performance cars have to handle as well; on this point, the Marauder is light-years beyond its namesake. The all-new Watts linkage in the rear combined with new air-spring suspension help keep the Marauder's rear-end in place while returning an extremely civilized ride. It's easy to get the Marauder sideways, though the limited-slip rear and traction control will try to spoil your fun. For a solid-rear-axle design, the handling on the Marauder is about as good as any similar setup has experienced to date. You'll find the steering is directed and heavily-weighted, though some might feel it's still a bit too vague in fast back and forth type maneuvers.

Inside, Mercury has given the Marauder an upgraded leather interior and new gauge faces that include a 140-mph speedometer and a 7000-rpm tachometer. Standard equipment includes automatic air conditioning, power windows and door locks, dual eight-way power seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with touch controls and front seat side-impact airbags. While you will no doubt find the Marauder's seats are comfortable, they really could have better side and bottom bolstering; this is a high-performance car after all. Rear seat passengers will have little to complain about when it comes to head and legroom, though you may hear them screaming about the way you're driving; not to worry, the Marauder also comes standard with a 100-watt Alpine audio system.

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