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The Mercury Mountaineer is a mid-size 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 Mountaineer 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)

1998-2001 Mercury Mountaineer


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) 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 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)

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.

Third Generation (2006-present)

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. In 2008, the Mountaineer was added with side curtain airbags. The satellite navigation system was upgraded with voice control. In 2009, the Mountaineer got trailer sway control standard and the naviation system got traffic flow monitoring and gas prices updated from nearby stations. In 2010, it added Ford's MyKey as a standard on all trims.

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, Illinoismarker plant.

Awards

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


Canadian market

The Mountaineer was never sold in Canadamarker. 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.

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