2002 Villager New Car Test Drive
Mercury's Villager is smaller than popular minivans such as the Dodge Grand Caravan or Ford Windstar. Its dimensions are closer to a base-level, short-wheelbase van. Yet the Villager offers the luxury trappings of the big guys. It also offers more nimble handling and, some would say, smarter styling. Big families may miss the extra room of a long-wheelbase van, but others will prefer the Villager's quick reflexes and versatility.
Three models are available: Villager, Villager Sport and Villager Estate.
The $22,510 base Villager is well equipped, with AM/FM/cassette stereo, power windows and mirrors, remote keyless entry, seven-passenger seating, anti-theft system, illuminated visor vanity mirrors, and a heavy-duty 75-amp battery. Base Villagers can be ordered in solid colors, or with Silver lower body panels.
A $995 Convenience Group for the base model adds a six-way power driver's seat with dual manual lumbar adjustments, privacy glass, dual front overhead map lights, front door step lights, flip-open liftgate window and power rear vent windows.
Next up is the Villager Sport, at $25,735. Distinguished by its Dark Shadow Gray lower body, the Sport adds all of the Convenience Group items, plus auxiliary rear air conditioning, an air filtration system and luxurious bucket seats in the second row. The 'sport' part of the package consists of a more aggressive suspension with anti-roll bars front and rear; and lower-profile P225/60R16 tires on alloy wheels, replacing the base P215/70R15 rubber and steel rims. The Sport also adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise and radio controls, and makes leather seating optional.
The most prestigious Villager is the $27,210 Estate, marked by Light Parchment Gold on the lower body and standard leather seating inside. Other Estate luxuries include automatic headlights, heated mirrors, a premium sound system and power for the front passenger's seat.
A CD changer, anti-lock brakes, and a trailer package are optional across the lineup.
The AutoVision rear-seat entertainment system, available on Villager Sport and Estate for $1295, features a 6.4-inch color LCD screen that folds out from an overhead console. With its video-cassette player, remote control and video-game plug-and-play capability, AutoVision is a timely match for the similar setups offered by GM.