2002 Mountaineer New Car Test Drive
Mercury has been trying to find its identity since 1939. The new Mountaineer is leading the way toward that goal and represents the future design direction for Mercury. Though it still shares all major mechanical components with the Ford Explorer, the Mercury Mountaineer this time around has made a major design break with the Ford version. Today, the Mountaineer is one of the most expressively designed SUVs in the business.
Along with the design comes an all-new vehicle: the 2002 Mountaineer boasts a new frame, a new independent rear suspension, a new front suspension, new steering, new seating formats, and a raft of new standard and optional features. It is by far the newest Mercury in the entire lineup.
Mountaineer comes in four versions: two-wheel-drive V6, all-wheel-drive V6, two-wheel-drive V8, all-wheel-drive V8. Mercury chooses not to use the usual model names.
The 2WD V6 retails for $28,730; the AWD V6 lists for $30,710. The V8 is a $695 option. No manual transmission is available, so all models come with a new and improved wide-ratio five-speed overdrive automatic transmission.
While all previous Mountaineer models were five-passenger SUVs, from now on, all will be seven-passenger models, using a third seat that folds completely flat to make room at the rear for larger cargos.
All Mountaineers are built to a relatively high specification, with power windows, mirrors and locks, anti-lock brakes, and a Class II receiver hitch for towing. All have the SecuriLock passive anti-theft system and remote keyless entry system, and approach lamps on the bottoms of the side mirrors that illuminate the sides of the vehicle when the key fob button is pressed. A standard battery saver turns off the dome light and approach lamps after four to five minutes.
The biggest option package is the Luxury Group ($1685) with leather-trimmed bucket seats, heated front seats, memory driver's seat, power passenger seat, memory adjustable pedals, message center, dual automatic temperature control, electrochromic heated mirrors. Leather-trimmed bucket seats are available as a standalone option with a six-way power driver's seat and dual manual lumbar support for $655. The power moonroof is $800, the neat crosshatched running boards are $395, the Convenience Group of automatic headlamps, approach lamps, illuminated visor mirrors and HomeLink is $476. A reverse sensing system that uses sonar to spot objects the driver may not see is $255. An audiophile sound system with in-dash 6 CD changer is $690, and side-curtain air bags that cover almost 65 percent of the side glass area and have a rollover trigger are $495. A Class III/IV towing package for up to 7300 pounds costs $395. A 3.55 axle ratio is standard on Mountaineer, but a 3.73 axle ratio with limited slip differential is standard with the Class III/IV towing package.