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Lincoln-Mercury For 1997

By Carey Russ

Yes, you read the headline right. Ford's luxury division is one of the fastest-growing light truck makers. What kind of light trucks? Sport-utility vehicles, of course. Its first SUV is the Mercury Mountaineer, upscale cousin to the Ford Explorer. The Mountaineer will not be the last Lincoln-Mercury sport-utility - the Lincoln Navigator made its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January and will be on the road later in the year. There have been major revisions to the Lincoln Mark VIII coupe and compact, economical Mercury Tracer for 1997. The extensively- revised 1998 Mystique will go on sale in early Spring.

Mercury Cars and Sport-Utility Vehicles

Mercury Mountaineer

Introduced last May, the well-appointed, V8-powered Mountaineer is Mercury's first entry into the upscale sport-utility class. The Mountaineer starts where its close cousin, the Ford Explorer, leaves off in appointments and features. Standard equipment for this 4- door SUV includes a 5.0-liter V8 engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, 2-wheel drive, antilock brakes, power windows, mirrors, and door locks, and its own distinct grille, badging, and trim. There are plenty of options to let owners tailor their Mountaineer to specific needs, from leather upholstery to a full-time all-wheel drive system and even an engine block heater.

Mercury Mystique

The 1997 model year will be a short one for the Mystique. There are only minor differences between the '97 Mystique and earlier models. Major changes are scheduled for the 1998 models, which will be available early in 1997.

Externally, dramatic new front and rear styling gives the 1998 Mystique a closer affinity to other Lincoln-Mercury cars. The interior has new seats and trim, and additional rear-seat legroom. In the engine compartment, the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder "Zetec" engine of the GS trim level has extensive enhancements for quietness, lower emissions, and improved fuel economy. The LS version continues to use the 2.5-liter "Duratec" V6. Mystiques with manual-transmissions benefit from new clutch assemblies and gearshift linkage.

Mercury Tracer

Mercury's entry-level compact has been completely made over. It has a high degree of technology and refinement for smooth, quiet operation. The 1997 Tracer is longer and roomier. The body has been restyled and is made with one-piece sides for better-fitting doors and a quieter ride. The interior has been completely redesigned. The new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine makes plenty of power and very little in the way of exhaust emissions. It has been certified by the California Air Resources Board as a low-emissions vehicle (LEV).

Mercury Cougar XR7

The Cougar sporty coupe is 30 years old this year. In celebration, a special anniversary edition is offered. It has special exterior and interior trim and a sport suspension.

All Cougars have a redesigned instrument panel and center console this year. Engine choices are a 3.8-liter V6 and 4.6-liter V8.

Mercury Sable

New last year, the latest Sable is Mercury's best-selling car. Its standard 3.0-liter Vulcan V6 has been modified for lower emissions, and is expected to receive low-emissions vehicle (LEV) status from the California Air Resources Board.

Mercury Grand Marquis

The full-sized, rear-wheel drive, V8-powered Grand Marquis has revised steering gear for 1997.

Mercury Villager

The Mercury minivan adds dynamic side-impact protection and modifications to the option list.

Lincoln Cars and Sport-Utilities

Lincoln Navigator

The existing luxury sport-utility vehicles will get some serious competition when the 1998 Lincoln Navigator goes on sale. It is to the full-sized Ford Expedition as the Mercury Mountaineer is to the Ford Ranger - the upscale cousin. But, as a Lincoln, the Navigator is far more luxurious, even opulent.

Unique styling, highlighted by a chromed, one-piece Lincoln grille integrated into the hood, distinguishes the Navigator outside. Inside is sumptuous luxury, with leather seats, burled walnut trim, and even a wood and leather-trimmed steering wheel with duplicate audio and climate controls standard.

The standard load-leveling air suspension, specially-developed shock absorbers and tires, and a premium sound isolation package should ensure quiet comfort in keeping with the Lincoln name.

The Navigator is powered by a 5.4-liter overhead-cam V8 engine matched to a 4-speed automatic transmission. It will be available in 2- or 4-wheel drive configurations.

Lincoln Mark VIII

The Mark has gotten a major update for 1997. Most apparent is the revised front styling, featuring a more prominent hood, larger grille, and new, high-intensity lighting technology. The restyled rear has a full-width, neon-lighted panel. The external rear-view mirrors have supplemental turn signals and turn down automatically when the car is placed in reverse. There are also modifications to interior appointments, suspension tuning, and the 4.6-liter V8 engines of both the standard Mark VIII and the sportier LSC.

Lincoln Continental

Lincoln's luxury flagship has an exterior freshening, suspension modifications, standard traction control, and revised options packaging. The Remote Emergency Satellite Cellular Unit (RESCU) system, which allows the driver to summon assistance at the touch of a button, and the Personal Security Package, including run- flat tires, are now available separately.

Lincoln Town Car

The last of the big, rear-drive American luxury cars gets revised steering gear for 1997.

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