2000 Villager New Car Test Drive
Redesigned and re-engineered last model year, the 2000 Mercury Villager is largely a carryover of the successful, satisfying version that came out in 1999.
This second generation of Villagers is 5 inches longer than the 1992-1998 model, giving rear passengers and cargo more space. A second sliding door readies the Villager for the new millennium. Bins and cubbyholes have been added to make everyday life easier. A unique sliding seat transforms it into a mini-limousine. More power and a quieter engine increase its driving appeal.
Overall, the Villager offers a leaner, more athletic stance than the other minivans on the market. It's smaller than the Dodge Grand Caravan or Ford Windstar, with dimensions closer to a Dodge Caravan. In short, the Villager has all the trappings of the big guys, but offers nimble handling and smart styling. Some may miss the extra room offered by a long-wheelbase Ford or Dodge, but others will prefer the Villager's quick reflexes and versatility.
Three models are available: Villager, Villager Sport and Villager Estate.
The $22,415 base Villager is well equipped, with AM/FM/cassette stereo, power windows, mirrors and door locks, and seven-passenger seating. For 2000, the standard-equipment list grows to include an anti-theft system, remote keyless entry, illuminated visor vanity mirrors, and a heavy-duty battery.
Major option packages include a Convenience Group ($995) that includes a 6-way power driver's seat, privacy glass, light group, front overhead dual map lights, flip-open liftgate window, overhead console and power rear vent windows. The Comfort Group ($995) adds rear air conditioning, rear audio controls, air filtration system and a six-way power drivers seat. The $995 Luxury Group includes leather seating surfaces, the Travelnote memo recorder, the Homelink system, power passenger seat and memory controls for the driver's seat and mirrors. A CD changer, anti-lock brakes, and trailer packages are optional across the lineup.
In addition, a rear seat entertainment system ($1295) is available on any Villager. The system, which has a retractable 6.4-inch color LCD screen, videocassette player, remote control, video game plug and play capability, and headphones, is a timely match to Oldsmobile's package offered on the Silhouette minivans.
Next rung up the ladder is the Villager Sport, at $25,415. The Sport makes both the Convenience and Comfort groups standard. With silver lower body color, the Sport replaces the base second-row bench seat with luxurious captain's chairs. The sporty part includes lower-profile P225/60R16 tires to replace the base P215/70R15 rubber. The Sport model also adds white-faced instruments, two-tone paint and other sporty trim. Leather is optional.
At the top of the heap, the $27,115 Villager Estate has the Convenience, Comfort, and Luxury groups standard. It has gold lower body color, along with the an air-filtration system, rear air conditioning, a flip-open liftgate window, third-row power vent windows, a power driver's seat, and privacy glass all standard.