Mercury Mountaineer

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Mercury Mountaineer
2002-05 Mercury Mountaineer.jpg
Manufacturer Mercury
Production 1996–2010
Model years 1997–2010
Assembly Louisville, Kentucky
St. Louis, Missouri
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size sport utility vehicle
Body style 5-door SUV
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel drive / Four-wheel drive
Predecessor Ford Explorer Limited
Successor Ford Explorer

The Mercury Mountaineer was a mid-size luxury sport utility vehicle (SUV) that was sold by Mercury from 1997 until 2010. Sharing many of its features with the Ford Explorer, the vehicles were virtually identical in terms of hardware.[1] Externally, they were styled somewhat differently, and the Mountaineer was positioned with a more upscale interior, with the Mountaineer's MSRP coming in at $1,000–$6,000 more than the Explorer.[2] It was last redesigned for the 2006 model year with a new frame, looking very similar to its previous model.

Some controversy resulted after the media highlighted a number of rollovers involving Explorers and Mountaineers fitted with Firestone tires. The Mountaineer has been praised for its excellent handling and stability.[3] The Mountaineer was never sold in Canada.[citation needed] As part of the discontinuation of the Mercury brand, production of the Mountaineer ended in late 2010.[4]


Ford Explorer Limited (1993), indirect Ford predecessor of the Mercury Mountaineer

In 1991, General Motors introduced the Oldsmobile Bravada, largely as a low-cost alternative to the Land Rover Discovery. Sharing the body of the 4-door Chevrolet S10 Blazer, the Bravada was differentiated by upgraded trim and a dedicated all-wheel drive system. For 1993, Jeep revived the long-running Grand Wagoneer nameplate as a wood-grained variant of the newly introduced Grand Cherokee. However, the smaller version only lasted a single year after finding limited sales.

As a response to the Bravada and the Grand Wagoneer, Ford introduced the Explorer Limited in 1993. In contrast to the outdoors-themed Explorer Eddie Bauer, the Limited was geared towards on-road driving; it was fitted with all-wheel drive in place of traditional four-wheel drive. The Limited was also distinguished by monochromatic body trim, body-color bumpers, and chrome wheels. As part of the redesign of the Explorer for 1995, the Limited remained part of the Explorer lineup.

In the mid-1990s, sport-utility vehicles entered into the model lines of Japanese luxury brands, with the introductions of the Acura SLX and Infiniti QX4 (and the larger Lexus LX450)

As these brands, along with Oldsmobile from General Motors, competed more closely with more expensive brands than with the Ford model line, Ford Motor Company sought to develop SUVs for its Lincoln-Mercury division; Mercury would receive a variant of the Explorer while Lincoln would receive a variant of the upcoming Ford Expedition.

First generation (1997–2001)[edit]

First generation
1998-2001 Mercury Mountaineer -- 03-21-2012.JPG
1998–2001 Mercury Mountaineer
Production 1996–2001
Body and chassis
Related Ford Explorer
Ford Ranger
Mazda B-Series
Ford Explorer Sport Trac
Lincoln Aviator
Engine 4.0 L Cologne V6
5.0 L Windsor V8
Transmission 4-speed automatic
5-speed automatic
Wheelbase 1997: 111.5 in (2,832 mm)
1998–2001: 111.6 in (2,835 mm)
Length 1997: 188.5 in (4,788 mm)
1998–99: 190.1 in (4,829 mm)
2000–01: 190.7 in (4,844 mm)
Width 70.2 in (1,783 mm)
Height 1997 2WD: 66.8 in (1,697 mm)
1997 4WD: 66.7 in (1,694 mm)
1998–2001 2WD: 70.5 in (1,791 mm)
1998–2001 4WD: 70.3 in (1,786 mm)
1997 Mercury Mountaineer

The Mercury Mountaineer was introduced in late 1996 as a 1997 model. Although closest in appearance outside to the popular Ford Explorer XLT, the Mountaineer (in a single trim level) was trimmed in between the Explorer Eddie Bauer and Limited; many optional features were made standard. To differentiate it from the Explorer, Ford styled the Mountaineer with its own lower-body color scheme separate from Explorers; the rear hatch and bumper were donated from the European export version of the Explorer. The Mountaineer was fitted a 215 hp 5.0L V8 with a 4-speed automatic; unlike any V8 Explorers, all-wheel drive and 2wd were the only powertrains available.

For 1997, sales of the model fell under Lincoln-Mercury expectations. To improve the sales potential of the Mountaineer, several changes were made for the 1998 model year. To expand the price range of the model line, a model with a 205 hp 4.0L V6 was introduced. To better differentiate the Mountaineer from the Explorer, Ford stylists made additional changes to the exterior. Along with a new rear hatch, a new front grille with different headlights was added along with larger wheels unique to the Mountaineer. Although sales would largely improve to become the division's third best-selling model (behind the Sable and Grand Marquis), the Mountaineer still lagged far behind Explorer, one of the best-selling vehicles in the United States.

Second generation (2002–2005)[edit]

Second generation
2nd Mercury Mountaineer.jpg
Production 2001–2005
Body and chassis
Platform Ford U1 platform
Related Ford Explorer
Ford Explorer Sport Trac
Lincoln Aviator
Ford Ranger
Engine 4.0 L Cologne V6
4.6 L Modular V8
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase 2002–03: 113.7 in (2,888 mm)
2004–05: 113.8 in (2,891 mm)
Length 2002–03: 190.7 in (4,844 mm)
2004–05: 190.9 in (4,849 mm)
Width 2002–03: 72.1 in (1,831 mm)
2004–05: 72.3 in (1,836 mm)
Height 2002–03 2WD: 69.6 in (1,768 mm)
2002–03 AWD: 71.5 in (1,816 mm)
2004–05: 72.5 in (1,842 mm)

For 2002, Ford redesigned the Explorer and Mountaineer. This Mountaineer was new from the ground up, offering even more luxury features than the last generation. Its exterior appearance was very similar to the Mountaineer concept vehicle first unveiled at the 2000 Los Angeles Auto Show. This Mountaineer offered features like faux brushed metal trim, rear radio deck, rear ceiling air vents, and a rear-seat TV/DVD player.

Sales sped up drastically with the introduction of this generation, and it was a look ahead at the entire revamp of the Mercury line, to offer more luxurious looks and features. Some design cues found on this Mountaineer, like the waterfall grille and barred taillights, would go on to form Mercury's new signature look, which would appear on all its models.

The "Premier" trim level featured design upgrades such as, TV/DVD player, rear ceiling air vents, chrome exhaust tip and roof rack, and body color bumpers.

There is a major cosmetic flaw with the second generation Explorer and Mountaineer; the rear hatch cracks by the Ford and Mercury logos.

Third generation (2006–2010)[edit]

Third generation
2010 Mercury Mountaineer Premier -- 07-10-2010.jpg
Production 2005–2010
Body and chassis
Platform Ford U2 platform
Related Ford Explorer
Ford Explorer Sport Trac
Ford Ranger
Lincoln Aviator
Engine 4.0 L Cologne V6
4.6 L Modular V-8
Transmission 5-speed 5R55E automatic
6-speed 6R automatic
Wheelbase 113.7 in (2,888 mm)
Length 2006–07: 193.4 in (4,912 mm)
2008–2010: 193.5 in (4,915 mm)
Width 2006–07: 73.5 in (1,867 mm)
2008–2010: 73.7 in (1,872 mm)
Height 72.8 in (1,849 mm)

For the 2006 model year, Ford redesigned its mid-size SUVs. While its U251 platform was all-new, the third-generation Mountaineer followed on with the success of its predecessor by retaining nearly its entire exterior, unlike the Explorer. For the 2006 Mountaineer, the exterior redesign featured all-white taillamps, larger wheels, satin silver trim on the sideview mirrors and bumpers; the Mercury logos on the grille and tailgate were enlarged.

Since the discontinuation of the Lincoln Aviator left the Mountaineer as the top nameplate of the Ford mid-size SUV model lineup, much of the attention of the redesign was focused in the interior trim and features to better differentiate it from the Explorer Eddie Bauer and Limited. Carried over from the Lincoln Aviator was the option of a DVD-based navigation system with voice control; this system would be unavailable on the Explorer until 2008. As an option, power retracting running boards (as seen on the Lincoln Navigator) were a new feature.

As with all Mountaineers since 2001, a 210 hp 4.0L SOHC V6 was the standard engine. As with the Explorer, the 292 hp 4.6L Modular 24-valve V8 was an option. V6 Mountaineers used a 5-speed 5R55W automatic transmission. For V8 models, Ford developed an all-new 6-speed transmission based on a ZF design; the 6R automatic was fitted to all V8 Explorers and Mountaineers.

During its production, this generation saw relatively few functional changes. In 2008, side curtain airbags became standard. On the outside, the "MOUNTAINEER" lettering was deleted from the front doors. Due to reliability issues, the retracting running boards were discontinued. For 2009, versions of the Mountaineer configured for towing were upgraded as trailer sway control was made standard. To potentially save fuel for drivers, the navigation system was given upgrades, including traffic flow monitoring and live updates on gasoline prices from nearby service stations.[5] For 2010, Ford's MyKey was added as a standard feature on all trim levels; it is a programmable security system designed for vehicles owned by multiple drivers.


Following the June 2010 announcement by Ford Motor Company to shelve the Mercury brand, 2010 would be the end of Mountaineer production; the final vehicle was produced on October 1, 2010.[6] Unlike the Milan, Mariner, and Grand Marquis, the Mountaineer was not produced for a short 2011 model year. The third-best selling vehicle of the division in 2000, the Mountaineer was the worst-selling Mercury ten years later.

Firestone tire controversy[edit]

In May 2000, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) contacted Ford and Firestone about the high incidence of tire failure on first generation Mercury Mountaineers, first and second generation Ford Explorers, and Mazda Navajo 3-doors fitted with Firestone tires. Ford investigated and found that several models of 15-inch (381 mm) Firestone tires (ATX, ATX II, and Wilderness AT) had very high failure rates, especially those made at Firestone's Decatur, Illinois plant. To this day the Ford Motor Company refuses to equip any vehicle they sell with Firestones. Individuals can still opt to purchase tires aftermarket though.


  • Class Exclusive Roll Stability Control (RSC) System.
  • Consumers Digest Best Buy for 2006 and 2007.


Calendar Year American sales
1996 26,700[7]
1997 45,363[8]
1998 47,595
1999[9] 49,281
2000 46,547
2001[10] 45,574
2002[11] 48,144
2003 49,692
2004[12] 43,916
2005 32,491
2006[13] 29,567
2007 23,850
2008[14] 10,596
2009[15] 5,169
2010[16] 5,791


  1. ^ Edmunds, 2006 Mountaineer review
  2. ^ Forbes, 2000 Mountaineer review
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Mercury production to cease in late September?" from Autoblog (July 12, 2010)
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Ford Motor Company Sets New Full Year U.S. Sales Record". Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  10. ^ "Ford Motor Company's December U.S. Sales Climb 8.2 Percent" (PDF). Ford Motor Company. 
  11. ^ "Ford's F-Series Truck Caps 22nd Year in a Row as America's Best-Selling Vehicle With a December Sales Record". 2004-11-17. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  12. ^ "Ford Achieves First Car Sales Increase Since 1999". 2004-11-17. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  13. ^ "Ford Motor Company 2007 sales". January 3, 2008. 
  14. ^ "F-Series drives ford to higher market share for third consecutive month" (PDF). Ford Motor Company. January 5, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  15. ^ "FORD CAPS 2009 WITH 33 PERCENT SALES INCREASE, FIRST FULL-YEAR MARKET SHARE GAIN SINCE 1995 | Ford Motor Company Newsroom". 2010-01-05. Retrieved 2010-09-30. 
  16. ^

External links[edit]