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1997 Mercury Villager Van

3dr Nautica

Starting at | Starting at 17 MPG City - 23 MPG Highway

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  • $26,915 original MSRP
Printable Version

1997 Mercury Villager Van

Printable Version

1997 Mercury Villager Van

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1997 Mercury Villager Nautica

Source: New Car Test Drive

Enhancing the value quotient.

by Kevin Ransom

Now that the minivan market is as crowded as lunch hour in Hong Kong, carmakers know it's not just about space any more.

That is, a minivan's kid- and cargo-hauling capacity is only one of many considerations pondered by today's minvan buyers. Gone are the days when the minivan with the most space was the hands-down victor.

Granted, they're called minivans, but woe to the carmaker who builds a van that actually rides like a van. No, what today's minivan buyer wants is spaciousness along with a car-like ride -- and car-like performance.

Ford Motor Company and Nissan never lost sight of that when they threw in together to design and build the front-drive Mercury Villager and its mechanical twin, the Nissan Quest. Introduced in 1992 as a '93 model, the Villager offers the smooth, quiet ride and road-responsiveness of a sedan.

The Villager and Quest were designed by Nissan and are powered by a Nissan engine and drivetrain, but are assembled in Ford's Avon Lake, Ohio assembly plant, using Ford-supplied components.

Since the Villager is now in its fifth year without a major redesign, the folks at Mercury knew it was time to add to the list of goodies and make a few design tweaks. For '97, the Villager has added such safety features as dual airbags and a child-proof sliding-door lock, optional anti-lock brakes and optional integrated child safety seats.

Our test vehicle -- the top-of-the line Nautica sport-luxury model -- has a base price of $27,495, including Mercury's $580 destination charge. The price was boosted to $30,835 by such options as a $100 anti-theft system; a $370 premium sound system; and a $2870 preferred equipment package -- which includes an eight-way power driver's seat, flip-open liftgate window, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated outside mirrors, illuminated visor mirror, electronic automatic climate control, keyless entry and electronic instrument cluster. However, the preferred equipment package was discounted $1370, leaving the final MSRP at $29,465.

Walkaround

If the Nautica trim package is any indicator, this sport-luxury model is targeting an upscale market that fancies itself as the boating class. The Nautica package on our white test model included a two-tone paint job (with blue-grey fascias and body cladding), painted white hub caps, and a jaunty yellow-and-white sailboat logo that appears on the rear gate and on each seatback.

If you're in the market for a minivan, you're either a parent or some other form of load-bearer. So, your first introduction to the vehicle is likely to involve the sliding door or rear tailgate.

On that front, the Villager bats one-for-two: the side door -- which comes with a child-proof lock -- slides open very easily, with just one hand.

But operating the rear gate is a two-handed operation. You have to turn the key with one hand while lifting the gate with the other. We pause, pondering: who is a minivan designed for, if not someone with an armful? Once the gate is lifted, it offers enough head clearance for a six-footer.

A fourth-door option, a la Chrysler and the new General Motors minivans, isn't offered.

If a Nissan dealer is handier to your whereabouts, the Quest offers some cosmetic distinctions -- mostly in the design and detailing of the grilles, taillamps, and lower fascias.

The Inside Story

The Villager's standard equipment includes an AM/FM/cassette sound system, tilt steering wheel, flip-out side rear windows, rear defogger, tinted windows, and courtesy dome lamps.

And you've got to say this for Villager designers: when it comes to seating options, they're definitely pro-choice. They allow passengers to choose from 13 different seating-and-cargo configurations.

Behind the driver's and front-passenger captain's chairs are two more captain's chairs. In the rear is a third row bench seat with room enough for three. The backs of the second row captain's chairs and third row bench can all be folded down. Or, after tilting the rear bench seat cushion upward, the bench can slide forward as much as 50 inches.

Folding down any of these seats requires a mere flip of a lever, and in the case of the removeable second-row captain's chairs, it's a one-handed process.

After the second-row seats are removed and the rear-bench seat is folded upward, the Villager offers 126 cubic feet of cargo space. In the minivan universe, everything is relative: 126 cubic feet is modest compared to the Dodge Grand Caravan or Ford Windstar, but it's roomy compared to the Honda Odyssey's 102 cubic feet.

Moving from the front seat back to the rear is fairly painless, although the fold-down armrests on the second-row captain's chairs limit the pass-through space to about eight inches. The front and second-row captain's chairs are quite comfortable, but passengers on the rightmost or leftmost seats on the third-row bench will feel themselves listing toward the center.

Driver's seat headroom was sufficient for our 5'11" test driver, but taller passengers in the second or third rows may feel a bit scrunched. Rear legroom is also a bit limited -- unless, of course, you're a typical minivan buyer and your rear passengers are children.

Our test model was equipped with the power front seats -- eight-way for the driver (including a power lumbar support feature) and four-way for the passsenger. But when reaching for the power switch, your forearm gets pinched between the seat and the armrest.

A flat cupholder pulls out and snaps down from the console side of the front passenger's seat, and there are integrated cupholders on the backs of each of the rear seats.

One feature we really liked was the separate rear-seat climate control and stereo control switches -- complete with two headphone jacks -- built into the modular armrest to the left of the second-row captain's chair. Ditto the info center on the smart-looking, digitized instrument panel of our test van. A push of a button yields such data as fuel economy -- both average and instant -- and the number of miles before the fuel tank is empty. And for the globally-minded, the info center can convert everything to metric.

Ride & Drive

While its cargo capacity is modest compared to the big boys, the Villager makes up for it with its serene ride comfort and good handling.

The Villager's 3.0-liter V-6 engine is paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. On the freeway, that powertrain is more than sufficient to confidently scoot the 3800-pound Villager in and out of traffic, and provides enough boost for emergency passing situations. And even at speeds of 70 mph and up, the Villager is suprisingly and impressively quiet.

Meanwhile, the precision-plus, rack-and-pinion power steering -- in tandem with the McPherson strut front suspension, leaf-spring rear suspension and twin-tube gas charged shock absorbers -- enables the Villager to firmly plant itself while negotiating hard corners. That's no small feat for a tall vehicle.

Sporty isn't a word that wraps itself around minivans very convincingly, but it comes close here.

Final Word

In an industry where competitors typically take glee in bashing each other's brains out, it's refeshing to see intercorporate cooperation.

The Villager is a good example of the synergy that can occur when two industry leaders put their heads together. Even though the design is five years old, it's aged well, and the Nautica treatment lends a distinctive and attractive touch.

Its performance is lively, its interior attractively versatile and its capacity should be equal to the needs of families whose headcounts haven't gotten into baseball team territory.

And with the addition of additional built-in extras, its value quotient is higher than ever.

Order our 200+ page magazine of reviews. Send $8.00 (S&H included) to New Car Test Drive, 2145 Crooks Rd. Suite 200, Troy, MI 48084

© 1997 New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

1997 Mercury Villager Van

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade
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Passenger Crash Grade
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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

Intermittent Wipers Std

Security

Alarm Opt
Printable Version

1997 Mercury Villager Van

Mercury Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

Manufacturer's 7 years / 100,000 miles Powertrain Limited Warranty from original in-service date. 12-month/12,000-mile comprehensive limited warranty. See dealer for details. Rental Car Reimbursement $30/day.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 2009-2011 model years & less than 80,000 miles
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection 172
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance Yes
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $100

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

1997 Mercury Villager Van

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