Mercury Mountaineer (1997)

Mercury MountaineerThis is Mercury's version of the Ford Explorer. And not the base modelExplorer, either. The one we tested was a $31,000 leather-slathered V8big cruiser that was quickly adopted, or should I say "co-opted," by mywife. She had shown moderate interest in the Explorer when it was around,but she really took to the Mountaineer. Why? How would I know? If Iunderstood women as well as Mercury, do you think I'd be paying alimony?All I know is that the representative from Ford confirmed that women aregoing for this vehicle in droves. It must be something subtle in the trimand interior design, because it looked like a Ford Explorer to me. But itseemed to Mrs. Radio Show Host somehow less intimidating and macho than theExplorer, and, in a sense, more welcoming and friendly. Go figure. Anyway,it was an absolute pleasure to drive, highway and city. It was comfortable,powerful (that V8 is terrific...as were the frequent charges at the gasstation), roomy, practical, and pretty to look at. One in a thousand ofthese things will ever actually be used off-road, so I didn't test itthere...unless you count that accident jaunt through my brother's tulip bedan off-road test. But the all-wheel drive provides security for those whohave to go out in the snow. Sport utility vehicles are getting more andmore carlike each year, and the Mountaineer has obviously broken some newground this year.

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