The full-size Ford Grand Marquis undergoes several changes for 2006. The rear axle has been upgraded, and a conventional spare tire and wheel are standard on all models.

Exterior changes include a freshened front end, with new headlamps and grille; fog lamps are standard on the LS Ultimate; new taillamps; and the antennae is now located in the rear glass. Exterior colours Smokestone Metallic and Tungsten Metallic arrive, alone with four new two-tone combinations; while Gold Ash, Midnight Grey and three two-tone combinations are gone.

Inside, all models receive analog instrument clusters; heated leather seats and a trunk organizer are standard on the LS Ultimate; and the overhead console includes a compass, map light and universal garage door opener. Side airbags are standard on LS Ultimate, and a perimeter alarm is available on all models.

In the U.S., the Ford Grand Marquis is a Mercury; its sister Ford Crown Victoria is still a consumer product in the U.S. market, whereas it is only available in Canada to commercial fleets such as police forces.

The Grand Marquis is available in four trim lines; all come with a 4.6-litre V8 that is rated for 224 hp in three of the lines, and upped to 239 hp in the LSE, which is also equipped with rear air suspension and a heavy-duty stabilizer bar for towing.

The base GS Convenience includes four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, traction control, 16-inch wheels, manual air conditioning, dual heated mirrors, power locks with keyless entry and driver’s door keypad entry, CD player, automatic headlamps, power-adjustable pedals, power windows and eight-way power driver’s seat.

The LS Premium adds alloy wheels, automatic climate control, premium stereo with cassette and CD, overhead console with universal garage door opener, leather-wrapped wheel and eight-way power passenger seat.

The LSE adds dual exhaust, the heavy-duty rear air suspension, 3.27:1 axle, aluminum wheels and leather seats; the Ultimate includes regular rear air suspension, wood-and-leather steering wheel with audio and climate controls, and electronic gauges.

Big and comfortable, the Grand Marquis remains the ultimate snowbird’s car, capable of eating up a full day’s worth of highway miles in living-room comfort. But it also has some serious competition in the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, which also share the Grand Marquis’ rear-wheel-drive configuration and V8 engine, and the Buick Allure, which certainly matches it in comfort.

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