|Parent company||Ford Motor Company|
St. Louis, Missouri
|Class||Mid-size sport utility vehicle|
|Body style(s)||5-door SUV|
|Layout||Front engine, rear-wheel drive / Four-wheel drive|
The Mercury Mountaineer is a midsize luxury sport utility vehicle (SUV) manufactured by the Mercury brand name and owned by the Ford Motor Company. The Mountaineer shares many features with the Ford Explorer, and in terms of hardware, the vehicles are virtually identical. Externally, they are styled somewhat differently, and the Mountainer is positioned with a more upscale interior, with the Mountaineer's MSRP coming in at $1,000–$6,000 more than the Explorer. It was mildly redesigned for the 2006 model year due to a new frame, but looks very similar to its previous model.
First generation (1997-2001)
|Engine(s)||4.0 L Cologne V6|
5.0 L Windsor V8
|Wheelbase||1997: 111.5 in (2832 mm)|
1998-2001: 111.6 in (2835 mm)
|Length||1997: 188.5 in (4788 mm)|
1998-99: 190.1 in (4829 mm)
2000-01: 190.7 in (4844 mm)
|Width||70.2 in (1783 mm)|
|Height||1997 2WD: 66.8 in (1697 mm)|
1997 4WD: 66.7 in (1694 mm)
1998-2001 2WD: 70.5 in (1791 mm)
1998-2001 4WD: 70.3 in (1786 mm)
Although the redesigned Explorer had already been out for two years, Mercury introduced an Explorer twin called the Mountaineer. The Mountaineer was only slightly different from the Explorer, although it did offer a few extra luxury features that the Explorer lacked, such as a standard 302 cu in (5.0 L) 210 hp (157 kW) Windsor V8. First year sales for the Mountaineer did not meet Mercury's expectations. For 1998, so customers could differentiate the Mountaineer from the Explorer, the front fascia was flipped upside down, and the headlights were made smaller, while it got a new rear hatch and unique wheels. The new overhead-cam 4.0 L 205 hp (153 kW) Cologne V6 with a 5-speed 5R55E automatic was now the standard powerplant. Mountaineer sales sped up because of this, though they still lagged behind the Explorer.
In 2000, a huge punch came to the Mountaineer with the Firestone vs Ford Motor Company controversy, where a large amount of rollovers were happening involving Explorers and Mountaineers. While Ford blamed Firetone's faulty tires, which had problems with the tread separating, Firestone blamed Ford, claiming that the Explorer and Mountaineer were unsafe. The case was settled, and Car and Driver proved that a large amount of the rollovers were caused by the drivers overreacting to the tire blow out.
Second generation (2002-2005)
|Engine(s)||4.0 L Cologne V6|
4.6 L Modular V8
|Wheelbase||2002-03: 113.7 in (2888 mm)|
2004-05: 113.8 in (2891 mm)
|Length||2002-03: 190.7 in (4844 mm)|
2004-05: 190.9 in (4849 mm)
|Width||2002-03: 72.1 in (1831 mm)|
2004-05: 72.3 in (1836 mm)
|Height||2002-03 2WD: 69.6 in (1768 mm)|
2002-03 4WD: 71.5 in (1816 mm)
2004-05: 72.5 in (1842 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. This Mountaineer offered features like woodgrain trim, rear radio deck, 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. Mercury Mountaineer has enjoyed one of the highest owner loyalty ratings of any SUV. It seems that when people buy a Mountaineer, the generally replace it with another one when the time comes.
Third Generation (2006-present)
|Engine(s)||4.0 L Cologne V6|
4.6 L Modular V8
|Transmission(s)||5-speed 5R55E automatic|
6-speed 6R automatic
|Wheelbase||113.7 in (2888 mm)|
|Length||2006-07: 193.4 in (4912 mm)|
2008-present: 193.5 in (4915 mm)
|Width||2006-07: 73.5 in (1867 mm)|
2008-present: 73.7 in (1872 mm)
|Height||72.8 in (1849 mm)|
For 2006, the Mountaineer was heavily redesigned. The Mountaineer was mounted on a heavily revised frame, and it offered a more upscale interior, to make up for the cut Lincoln Aviator. This Mountaineer got new wheels and a DVD based navigation system, a feature not found on previous Mountaineers. The current generation of Mountaineers do not come with HID lighting.
Firestone Tire Controversy
In May 2000, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) contacted Ford and Firestone about the high incidence of tire failure on Mercury Mountaineers, Ford Explorers, and Mazda Navajos 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.
The failures all involved tread separation—the tread peeling off followed often by tire disintegration. If that happened, and the vehicle was running at speed, there was a high likelihood of the vehicle leaving the road and rolling over. Many rollovers cause serious injury and even death; it has been estimated that over 250 deaths and more than 3,000 serious injuries resulted from these failures.
Ford and Firestone have both blamed the other for the failures, which has led to the severing of relations between the two companies. Firestone has claimed that they have found no faults in design nor manufacture, and that failures have been caused by Ford's recommended tire pressure being too low and the vehicle's design. Ford, meanwhile, pointed out that tires manufactured by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company to the same specification had a spotless safety record when installed on the SUVs. Ford's conclusions were confirmed by NHTSA in their report into the tire failures, published in October 2001.
Many outside observers tend towards blaming both parties; Firestone's tires being prone to tread separation and failure, and the vehicles being especially prone to rolling over if a tire fails at speed compared to other vehicles. However, a subsequent NHTSA investigation of real world accident data showed that the SUVs were no more likely to roll over than any other SUV, a consequence of the relatively high center of gravity. The subsequent introduction and proliferation of electronic stability control systems have essentially addressed and mitigated this shortcoming.
A product recall was announced, allowing Explorer, Mountaineer, and Navajo owners to change the affected tires for others.
A large number of lawsuits have been filed against both Ford and Firestone, some unsuccessful, some settled out of court, and a few successfully. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have argued that both Ford and Firestone knew of the dangers but did nothing, and that specifically Ford knew that the Explorer was highly prone to rollovers. Ford denied these allegations.
Car and Driver magazine tested a first-generation Explorer with a built-in rollcage and a special device that would flatten the tire at the push of a button. The Explorer did not flip in any of the numerous tests, and that was mostly because the driver managed to stay calm. Everyday Explorer drivers taken by surprise by a tread separation or loss of tire pressure in high speed traffic situations may have panicked and swerved violently, resulting in a significant portion of reported rollovers.
- Class Exclusive Roll Stability Control (RSC) System.
- Consumers Digest Best Buy for 2006 and 2007.
The Mountaineer was never sold in Canada. The Mountaineer's twin, the Ford Explorer, remains to be sold for the Canadian market. Its other twin, the Lincoln Aviator, was also sold for the Canadian market until its demise in 2005.
- Mercury Mountaineer official page
- FAQ Farm's Mercury Mountaineer FAQ: wiki question and answer forum]
- REDIRECT Template:Mercury vehicles
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