2001 Sable New Car Test Drive
This bread-and-butter sedan has one big trick up its sleeve: It's a hot drive for even the most dedicated enthusiast. And it surrenders nothing, nothing, in safety, comfort, or practicality.
Mercury Sable resides at the large end of the current mid-size scale. Its interior is spacious and pleasing, and by and large, its controls and instrumentation are contemporary, straightforward and easy to use. Its list of safety features is comprehensive, its five-star front impact rating from the federal government is unbeatable. Its trunk is capacious.
Sable even offers a real station-wagon variant, an increasingly rare choice in a market dominated by SUVs and minivans. But unlike those taller vehicles, the Sable wagon is every bit as fun to drive as the sedan, while still adding kid and cargo-hauling capacity.
In short, Mercury's Sable is a winner, with no reservations.
Sable sedan comes in GS ($19,185), LS ($20,285) and LS Premium ($21,585) trim levels. The wagon skips the mid-level and comes only in GS ($20,985) and LS Premium ($22,685) trim.
LS equipment includes a combination of cloth and leather upholstery, a power driver's seat, a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, heated mirrors and power-adjustable pedals.
LS Premium models add electronic climate control, automatic headlights and illuminated vanity mirrors. LS Premium sedans stick with the cloth-and-leather interior combination, while LS Premium wagons offer fabric on the front and middle seats and vinyl in the rear. But LS Premium wagons add an adjustable roof rack, inside luggage cover, two hidden storage compartments, rear window wiper/washer, power antenna, and four-wheel-disc brakes, the latter oddly not offered on any Sable sedan.
Mercury installs two engines in the Sable. GS and LS versions get the 3.0-liter, overhead-valve 'Vulcan' V6, a capable old cast-iron workhorse currently rated 155 horsepower. Standard in LS Premium sedan and wagon, and optional ($695) in the LS sedan, is Ford's excellent and exciting 'Duratec' V6, with dual overhead cams, 24 valves, and 200 horsepower. A four-speed automatic is the only transmission offered.
Lincoln-Mercury expects just 10 percent of Sable buyers to settle for the Vulcan V6. The vigorous 24-valve Duratec V6 is 30 pounds lighter, despite its more complex valvetrain, and delivers significantly better response and performance.
Anti-lock brakes (ABS), side-impact airbags and traction control are offered as stand-alone options, or together as the $995 Secure Group.