With Ford’s subsidiary Mercury brand shutting down in 2011 after 73 years to focus on the Lincoln premium brand and Ford itself, we look back at one of the last models we tested that was fairly good in its day back in 2006, the Mountaineer Premier.
The Mercury name comes from the “messenger of the gods” of Roman mythology, and during its early years, the Mercury brand was known for performance oddly enough. Faithful readers of C! Magazine will remember that we featured Mercury’s most famous and dare I say still most important model, the Cougar XR-7, a classic 60’s muscle car. Aside from that model, I can’t think of any other significant model which only adds to the conundrum why the company still exists in a strapped Ford.
Mercury, founded in 1938, was independent at Ford until 1945 when it was combined with Lincoln into the Lincoln-Mercury Division, with Ford hoping the brand would be known as a “junior Lincoln”, rather than an upmarket Ford. To date, Mercury vehicles are sold along with Lincoln to provide a slightly more affordable option.
Even more dire data suggests that Mercury’s heyday was further back in the 1950s when its formula of stretching and lowering existing Ford platforms was very successful. For a very short four years (1985-1989), Ford introduced the Merkur sub-brand highlighted by the imported Ford Europe-developed Sierra XR4Ti high-performance 3-door hatchback to compete against BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Sir Jackie Stewart even helped sort out the suspension. Unfortunately, due to compromised exchange rates that affected retail pricing and outright performance that fell short of expectations, it was ultimately a failure.
So, the question remains, why Mercury today? Rumor has it that the company’s days are numbered, no big surprise even after all the revival efforts. The market strategy of Mercury is to sell vehicles slotted between entry-level Ford and luxury Lincoln models. It’s a small niche especially when you consider that practically the entire current product line is based on Ford platforms. The Mercury brand is used only in the United States and in several countries in the Middle East. Perhaps there are just enough sales in both markets to sustain the brand, or is it good old fashion mercy?
So, what we have here, and I won’t mince words, is simply a Ford Explorer with enough unique sheet metal and plastic to barely have its own identity. Humorously I thought the only feature that the Mountaineer had over an Explorer was power running boards, then I found out that it is an available option too for its brother. If you are one of those real benignly eccentric individuals who insist on being even a little different, this is your mid-size SUV. To us, the Ford Explorer is the better choice on all fronts, including its aesthetics.
|Cylinder Head||sohc 24V|
|Fuel Injector||Sequential Multi-Port Injection|
|Max Power (bhp @ rpm)||292 bhp @ 5750 rpm|
|Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm)||300 lb-ft @ 3950 rpm|
|Top Speed||190 km/h (118 mph) Governed|
|0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph||8.3 sec.|
Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions
|Fuel Milage (km/l)||14 mpg City / 20 mpg Highway|
|Price as Tested (PHP)||(2006) US$ 40,505.00|
|What's Great||Strong powerplant, smooth ride, well-equipped, comfortable.|
|What's Not So||Brand-engineering to help save jobs, no standout features.|
|C! Editors Rating||8/10|