Mercury and Lincoln For 1999
By Carey Russ
Mercury Cars and Trucks
Only the name is the same. The new Cougar is designed and styled to broaden Mercury's appeal to young and young-at-heart enthusiasts. The first American production example of "New Edge" styling, it is built on the same platform as the Mercury Mystique and so shares the Mystique's 125-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder and 170-hp V6 engines for good performance. The Cougar's fully-independent suspension gives it roadholding to match. Its 2+2 interior features sports-type bucket seats for all four passengers, and a usefully large trunk.
The second generation of Mercury's Villager minivan debuts for 1999. It has all-new exterior styling, greater interior space, and a more powerful engine than the old Villager. A standard driver-side sliding door in addition to the passenger-side sliding door adds convenience.
A redesigned interior, with a new instrument panel and improved seats offers up to 66 different seating and cargo configurations. The engine has been enlarged from 3.0 to 3.3 liters for more power, but uses less gas. There are three trim levels.
The 1998 model of Mercury's upscale sport-utility may look the same outside, but interior upgrades and a host of new options keep it fresh. Newly-available options include front seat side air bags, the "Reverse Sensing System", which alerts the driver to objects near the rear bumper while backing, rear load leveling suspension.
Engine choices are a 4.0-liter V6 with five-speed automatic transmission or a 5.0-liter V8 with a four-speed automatic. Two- or four-wheel-drive is available with either engine.
Mercury may have moved to Southern California, and be actively seeking Generation X with the Cougar, but the loyal, traditional Mercury customers have not been forgotten. The flagship Grand Marquis is one of the few rear-wheel-drive, V8-powered, full- size sedans available today. After receiving a major freshening last year, it continues with color and trim changes for 1999.
The sporty, compact Mystique had new exterior styling and interior enhancements last year. For 1999, redesigned seating adds rear-seat legroom. There are also subtle changes to the instrument panel, suspension, and brakes. The Mystique continues to be offered in GS trim with the 125-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder "Zetec" engine or as an LS model with the 170-hp, 2.5-liter "Duratec" V6.
Offered in sedan and wagon body styles, the mid-size Sable features interior revisions, exterior trim changes, and a lower base price for 1999. Two trim levels are now offered for both the sedan and wagon. Two 3.0-liter V6 engines are offered, the pushrod "Vulcan" or the twin-cam "Duratec".
The smallest Mercury is offered in sedan and wagon body styles. Both have only minor changes for 1999.