By on March 16, 2007

07mercurymontego_03.jpgMy parents' first new car was a 1970 Montego coupe. They liked it so much they added a Montego sedan to the ranks– just in time to transport this nascent pistonhead home from the hospital. They no longer own a Montego. And soon, no one else will either. At least not a new one. Ford is about to rebadge the current Montego (a gussied-up Ford Five Hundred) a Sable; just as they’re about to rebadge the Five Hundred (the Taurus’ replacement) a Taurus. Which leaves everyone exactly where they started. I think. Let’s take a look.

The Five Hundred, sorry, Montego, began life as an Audi A6-a-like penned by the same designer who gave us the A6. Ugly it ain't. Boring it is: a third grade piano recital on wheels. Needless to say, the Quicksilver Boys grossly underestimated the need for brand specific product differentiation. Adding an aluminum-toned spizzarkleprow, LED eye catchers and Xenon lighting to a Ford Five Hundred is no substitute for unique sheetmetal. It’s like putting lipstick on a sloth.

07mercurymontego_04.jpgEven if the Montego had the svelte sheetmetal to lure the public into a Mercury showroom, there's precious little inside the car’s cabin to keep them there. Swing open those tall and imposing portals and the geriatric bling theme continues apace. Sure, the dark wood-effect trim and richly textured leather hides exude a slight amount of Teutonic flavor. But someone forgot to sweat the details. The chrome ringed gauges look great– provided you can ignore the wall o' matte black buttons on the center stack.

You can see where Ford—sorry, Mercury thought they had a winner. Although fundamentally utilitarian, the Montego’s cabin is also fundamentally huge. According to the age-inappropriate image on the official website, the trunk can swallow enough gear for a small rock band. Stratocaster owners: you can fold down both the rear seat (trunk pass-through) and the front passenger seat and lay your naked, unsecured axe across two rows. How great is that?

Anyway, the Montego’s back seat is Old School Caddy wide and reasonably cushy; there’s plenty of room for three real adults back there. Unfortunately, the space offers all the charm of an airplane hangar. A full complement of airbags (including a side canopy system) ensure five star crashworthiness all ‘round, save for rollover (four stars), which may explain the class-exclusive rollover sensor. 

07mercurymontego_01.jpgAt nearly 201 inches, the turnpike cruisin' Mercury creams most any bump, lump or stump. The spoke-intensive 18" wheels keep things on course, but the noise from the Pirellis at cruising speed throws a howler monkey into an otherwise competent isolation chamber.

Ease the Montego into a corner and it’s clear that this is not your typical land yacht. Thanks to its Volvo-fettled underpinnings, this large, nose-heavy, front wheel-drive sedan does a superb job at keeping understeer at bay without sacrificing ride quality. Predictably enough, the Montego’s steering is to road feel what a Stannah stair lift is to a leg workout. But it’s accurate enough to place the big Merc with precision. And if you don’t, four wheel discs will save your bacon (them’s the brakes).

Of course, this assumes you can amass enough forward speed to get into trouble. Ford's last-gen Duratec V6 welcomes you with a coarse hum at idle that stays all the way to the mill’s modest redline (5700rpm). The powerplant’s 203 horses struggle to tow the Montego’s massive 3670lb frame from rest to 60mph in eight seconds— or any other accelerative metric you can name.

07mercurymontego_05.jpgLuckily, the powertrain has a singular saving grace. Well, six of them. The Montego's close-ratio six cog slushbox canes the motor rapidly enough for most, netting respectable fuel economy (21/29) in the process. Even a certified lead foot will find the combination of a flat torque curve and an always-willing gearbox adequate at part throttle, if wholly unacceptable at full-tilt.

In short, the Montego is a fine car for buyers seeking an unassuming full-size sedan that’s a tiny bit more exclusive and sparkly than a Ford Five Hundred, for around $825 more (base to base). Too bad this niche exists only in the world of product planners and flak-talking spin-doctors. Everyone else flocks to well-established import sedans or “real” American cars like the Grand Marquis. In fact, Mercury’s royal sweetheart sports a competitive sticker price and frequently triples the Montego’s monthly sales numbers. Oops.

The Volvo-Mercury is a bowl of corporate porridge that’s so "right" even Goldilocks smells a trap from a mile away. It’s no match for smaller cars in its class and lacks the swagger of its Panther chassis partner. Even with (another) retro name and modest upgrades, the Montego's successor faces an uphill battle in 2008. Ford’s money would have been better spent whipping the old Crown Victoria, Mercury Marquis and Lincoln LS into shape.

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74 Comments on “Mercury Montego Review...”


  • avatar

    The Sable will have the new 3.5-liter V6 and standard stability control–which hasn’t been available on the Montego et al.

    Unfortunately, the C-pillar remains the same, and that’s where the Montego and Five Hundred have fallen down vis-a-vis the Passat that inspired them. In the quest for an exceptionally functional full-size sedan, said pillar is too thin and plain to lend the car any character.

    On pricing, I think you’ll find that after adjusting for feature differences the Five Hundred and Montego are within a few dollars of one another.

    In my research, the 2005 Montego has been below average in reliability, but the 2006 has been outstanding.

    My price comparison and reliability site’s page for the Montego:

    http://www.truedelta.com/models/Montego.php

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Sajeev,
    I think this is a good review. But I wish you’d waited a few months for the update. Ford/Mercury has addressed the major concerns reviewers like you have pointed out (weak power, interior boredom plastic).

    I expect the updated version to be a reasonable alternative to 300/Lucerne/Avalon/Azera, differentiated with AWD and great interior space.

  • avatar
    Martin Schwoerer

    Good, balanced review. It sounds like the Mercury is a reasonable, useful car with few demerits. Do we really care that it is outsold by obsolete cars such as the Grand Marquis? I certainly don't.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    SherbornSean:
    You go to battle with Toyota and Hyundai with the 100+ days’ supply of the car you have now, not yet with the car you wish you had.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    ya know it used to be that if you wanted a unique ride, you bought a “foreign” car. These days, you buy a Mercury Montego. I have never seen one on the street in philadelphia.

    Also, the other day, I saw a station wagon lookin thing that I had never seen before. It had smart lines, and seemed just the right size.

    It was Ford Freestyle.

    Amazing.

  • avatar
    Sid Vicious

    And this morning in Detroit I was totally surrounded in jam packed 85 MPH rush hour traffic and I could not spot one “foreign” car. (Except for the Mazda I was driving.) At one point I was totally boxed in by Trailblazers/Envoys.

    It’s no wonder the Detroit boys can’t come up with winners consistently (in cars at least.) They’re entirely insulated from the real world.

  • avatar
    Cowbell

    I think starlightmica’s comment would be more accurate as:

    “You go to battle with Toyota and Hyundai with the press car available to you now, not yet with the car you wish you had.”

    I love the reviews on this site, but ShearbornSean does bring up a good point. For people looking for information on a possible new car, this review is for a car that has probably already ended production. Though I’m sure there are no “new” Sables available yet to test, his criticism is valid.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    SherbornSean: Its a good time for a Montego fan like myself (reference to the 70s models) to give the new model a once-over before it disappeared. You know, just for old time’s sake.

    You know that we’ll review the Taurus/Sable as soon as we can get our hands on one, right?

    Martin Schwoerer: I think Ford should care. There’s no loyalty to the 500/Montego, but there’s plenty to the Panther chassis. And both are heavy on fleet sales too, so that’s not a big difference. If Ford freshened the Panther (ride the coattails of the Chrysler 300) instead of investing hundreds of millions(?) in a new platform and factory, I bet they’d sell more, have a better ROI or any other financial metric you wish to judge a car on.

    Using the 300 as proof, I still question the relevance of a large FWD chassis from an American company. That’s not true to the brand, it only chases the foreign competition.

    And its yet to work.

    There’s still talk of this D3 chassis replacing the Panther and the Explorer. Might look good on the balance sheet like it did in 2004, but its gonna displace a lot of people loyal to those brands. (FYI: the Explorer outsells the Freestyle just like the Grand Marquis to the Montego)

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Reviews limited to 800 words. Not enough space for the details you want. I agree they should be there but not with the current rules in place. Perhaps a spec page or expanded stars section?

    Mercury would seem a fairly easy fix and should have been done years ago. Ford is the everyman’s car, Lincoln is the big luxury and Mercury is the tweener. Put new skins on make them sexy and use some good upscale materials (not too much) and blam you are done.

  • avatar
    Caffiend

    Michael, wouldn’t most ’06 cars have decent reliablity? I’d think the ’05 reliability is a hargbinger of future problems with the ’06.

    Matte black grill, rear drive, V8, and this would be a decent Maurader. It’s really not a bad looking vehicle.

  • avatar
    boredlawstudent

    I used to own a ’93 SHO. Fast car, decent handling, looked great. Everything broke but the Yamaha engine :)

    How about that Ford? Another M5 beater with a 6=speed Manual? Put it on the market, overprice it, and let me pick up a used one 3 years later for 1/2 price.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Sajeev,
    Thanks for the reply. I don’t think anyone disputes that the Panther needs a serious update, if only to protect Ford’s livery and police fleet franchises.

    I am surprised that the AARP crowd continues to be loyal to the Marquis over the Montego. I would think they’d appreciate the simply laid out interior, the room, the AWD and higher seats (easier ingress/egress) but I digress.

    I look forward to your review of the new Taurus/Sable/X.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    StarlightMica,
    Just so we are clear, I am NOT accusing Sajeev or TTAC of picking on Ford by cherry picking an old model to review, because I know it’s not how they operate.

    What I’m saying is that the 500 and Montego have been out for 3 years, have been judged against their peers, and been found lacking in power and interior refinement.

    The fact that Ford is in the process of bringing out an update that addresses these concerns tells me there’s a chance Ford “gets it” and will have a winning product.

    You are correct that if I HAD to buy a large family sedan today, I would not pick the Montego, nor would most consumers, unless they needed AWD or were Ford loyalists. But I might wait a few months and see what the Sable has to offer. That’s all.

  • avatar
    MW

    Wasn’t one big selling point for this platform the available AWD? Funny, but it’s March in New England, snowing outside right now, and I don’t see Ford advertising this option. I do see a million Subaru ads on TV, though.

  • avatar
    Steve-O

    In concept, this car makes total sense: Huge interior & trunk space, handsome styling, affordable price, available AWD, good handling, and fuel efficient for it’s size. Yes it’s boring, but this still SHOULD HAVE made the Grand Marquis obsolete.

    But here is my gripe with Ford: It seems like Standard Procedure when they have a decent product- Zero effort is put into the marketing. It leads me to believe that Ford/Mercury lost confidence in the entire lot of Chicago D3’s (500/Montego/Freestyle.) Why?!

    I have driven a friend’s Ford Freestyle a number of times, and I’m convinced that it’s the best kept secret in the industry. Who would have thought that you can get a Volvo-based, 5-star crash rated, AWD, 7-passenger CUV starting around $26-27k after incentives?

    Jerseydevil: The reason you have never seen them is that Ford failed to get the word out, and miserable sales ensued.

    To Ford Marketing: Maybe this is just too logical, but why didn’t you immediately start marketing the Freestyle as a Minivan alternative when you discontinued the Freestar? (And let’s not even talk about that head-scratching ad campaign that focused on the divorced couple/single mother w/ kids, but somehow basically IGNORED THE PRODUCT.)

    With the new names and 265hp 3.5L, I will be curious to see how they handle the marketing of the “new” Taurus/Sable.

  • avatar

    SherbornSean: I am surprised that the AARP crowd continues to be loyal to the Marquis over the Montego. I would think they’d appreciate the simply laid out interior, the room, the AWD and higher seats (easier ingress/egress) but I digress.

    I think the reason they stick with the Marquis (or the Crown Vic or Town Car) is because they don’t want to have to learn new control layouts or have to remember what their new car looks like when wandering amongst the handicapped parking spaces. They can trade their 5 or 6 year old car in on a new one and everything will be exactly where it was on the old car.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    I’m a Grand Marquis loyalist – on my 2nd one at 40 years of age. I love the Panther, but would never buy a Montego by choice.

    The thing the Grand Marquis has that the Montego lacks is a proven track record, simple, dependable, a smooth and durable V-8 rwd powertrain, in addition to room and comfort. They are a great car to keep long term – they last a long time, simple to maintain and repair, and are comfortable to drive. They drive quite well – a testiment to the talent Ford had as recently as the early 90’s.

    The Montego is what you get when you have a commitee of MBA’s design a car – let’s take a platform we already have and try to cob something off of it to sell to the rubes who drive a Grand Marquis. On paper it looks good to those who would never drive an American sedan, but it is a cheap imitator.

    I’ve owned large FWD sedans before – they feel worn out by 120,000 miles. My old 94 Grand Marquis was sold only because my wife didn’t want an 11 year old car to be our primary vehicle – we still took it on all our road trips over our Toyota. It didn’t have a single thing wrong with it at 11 years old – other than some valve stem seal oil leakage into the combustion chamber.

    They are still great cars, even though they have been badly mismanaged over the last decade – all the American styling traits have been removed, both inside and outside.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    The reason old folks and others return to the panther cars is because of their bulletproof reliability, smooth ride, and good price. The reason almost nobody buys the 500/Montego nor will they buy the Taurus/Sable is because the styling flat out sucks!!! It looks like an inflated 10 year old Passat and totally misses the mark of what would appeal to their target market…old guys who want big American cars.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    SherbornSean:

    Understood. From the little I know about the D3 gestation from Businessweek and other rags, it’s a sad story. It goes something like this:

    – styling didn’t do well in focus groups, but they built it anyway, blaming the bubble shape on the proportions of the Volvo underpinnings
    – despite the underwhelming interior and lack of techno-gadgets, the starting price was supposed to be thousands higher, right up against Avalon’s sticker. DCX sunk that idea by lowballing the 300, and then the 3rd gen Avalon came out with its laser cruise control & climate controlled seats.
    – if you’re going to put 3 LATCH connectors in the back seat, can’t you spend the extra development money in to ensure they’re all usable at the same time?
    – the 3.5 V6 was delayed, of course

    This summer, the vehicle that should have come out at the introduction will finally arrive. Little wonder Grand Marquis outsells Montego 3:1.

  • avatar
    eugenetadie

    My M-B C320 wagon is dying: electronics, transmission and suspension. Never again!

    I’m going to buy a Grand Marquis GS with the performance option and a few other goodies. Where else can I get a roomy, comfortable, V8-powered RWD car that lists for $33k and carries a $5500 rebate?

    And just imagine if Ford had been smart enough to update the Panther platform, bring trim, fit and finish up to 21st century standards, and keep the price in line. The Chrysler 300 would have been no match, let alone Chevy Impalas, Toyota Avalons and other FWD poseurs.

  • avatar
    GMrefugee

    I am still stymied that these cars (along with 500) dont sell better. I think the styling is “handsome” enough. Yes, the power is on the lacking side but should still fit the bill for the target audience. So where did Ford go wrong? AS was pointed out, I think marketing is the most likely culprit.

  • avatar

    MW:
    March 16th, 2007 at 11:07 am
    Wasn’t one big selling point for this platform the available AWD? …and I don’t see Ford advertising this option.

    They are advertising the heck out of the AWD Fusion here in Ohio. The 500/Montego doesn’t seem to get any ad time here (AWD or otherwise) since the fusion was introduced.

  • avatar
    C. Alan

    Im 33 years old, and my daily driver is a 2005 Ford 500 limited. I purchased for wayyyy under invoice it in 2006 from a Ford dealer in Las Vegas.

    That was more than a year, and 26,000 miles ago. My 500 has never been in the shop for anything other than scheduled maintenance. The car climbs the Tehachapi Pass (about 3700 vertical feet over 30 or so miles) every day, and when I ask it to pass a truck, the duratech engine does it with a little noise and rev, but it does it every time.

    BTW, with this mountain communte, I still average 27 mpg during the summmer, and 25 in the winter.

    I am like a lot of you, puzzled that Ford did not spend more money marketing the car. It is a great car. Boring exterior, but still a great car for the money.
    –C. Alan

  • avatar
    kasumi

    z31-
    They are advertising the heck out of the AWD Fusion here in Ohio. The 500/Montego doesn’t seem to get any ad time here (AWD or otherwise) since the fusion was introduced.

    Thats true and even in Cleveland, I have not noticed many more AWD Fusions or even ever seen one of these Montegos. The AWD G35 on the other hand…

    I think we can all agree Ford has no idea how to sell passenger cars or CUVs. I have been seeing a ton more Mazda C-7s than Edges around. Mazda has the benefit of not having awful jingles, “I LIKE TO LIVE ON THE EDGE!”
    K.

  • avatar

    I’ll never forget this part of Dan Neil’s review of the Montego.
    “I’ve seen better plastics on prison lunch trays”.

    I’ve never seen a Montego on the road. I see a single 500 every few months. I wouldn’t touch the CVT until reliability is proven (or not).

  • avatar
    ctice2

    I like the car and find it quite elegant. I think the conservative design will age better than the gangsta look of the 300 and it is clearly a more modern look than than the Impala.

    Lots of room, state of the art safety thanks to Volvo, decent handleing for FWD and available AWD and a high seating position. I think this car is under appreciated and don’t know why Ford gave up on marketing of it. If I were in the market for a larger sedan, I would definatly take a look (particularly at the fire sale prices). The fact that it is so rare is actually a good thing.

    Pity about rebadging it a Taurus though (Says Ovalised Microwave melted rental car to me. Sable is ok though I just hope they dont slap that bling fusion rasor grill on it.

  • avatar

    Kurt B:
    I’ll never forget this part of Dan Neil’s review of the Montego.
    “I’ve seen better plastics on prison lunch trays”.

    And like prison lunch trays, the ford platics will probably last 20 years (barring riot duty). You can’t say the same for the fancy plastics VW/Audi uses.

  • avatar
    akitadog

    What I can’t understand for the life of me is how Billy Ford let such bland styling get to production. It should have been axed while it was still ON PAPER. Does the mgmt or board really even care about the company anymore?

    The 500 should have been the 427 concept of a few years ago. Hell, they could have simply changed the sheet metal, engine and suspension settings on the Panther platform to get to the 427/500.

    Or even stretch the LS/S-Type platform to get the 427/500.

    That way, the Montego would have had a much better starting point. But as we see, if you start from $#!t, you can only get fertilizer.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    The problem as I see it is the 500/Montego, while being described as being large cars, look like the small or mid-size cars. I know they are roomy inside, but they just don’t look like a big car. That’s why the Crown Vic and Grand Marquis still sell well, they look like the large cars that they are. People that want a large car want it to to look like a large car. It’s not that hard to figure out.

  • avatar
    boredlawstudent

    The 500 might be selling at fire sale prices but it comes at a “price:” resale value. In my area there are 2006 models with 20,000 miles selling for as little as $13K. A good deal for those that want one slightly used.

  • avatar

    I agree with Karesh about the 05s reliability.
    The first few batches had to be pushed off the line.
    http://onthehoist.com/index.php/2004/10/01/p31

    That, and Ford’s cliam they would have the highest resale value of any recent Ford. Guess that didn’t work out.

  • avatar
    confused1096

    Right on, great and well thought out review. I agree with you. I couldn’t imagine trading my Crown Vic for a 500 and I’m sure Marquis owners feel the same way.

  • avatar
    C.D.Weir

    How many of you have driven a Grand Marquis lately? I rented one last fall and thought I had shot through a time warp to the seventies. Everything from the speedo to the door handles/locks reflected stale, decades old ideas. I guess they plan on making the things until nobody will have them any more, since the tooling was probably amortized in the late eighties. It drove like a ’75 Dodge Monaco.
    I think people buy them for one thing…easy to get in and out of for aged, large bodies.

  • avatar

    taxman100:
    I drove a 1992 Grand Marquis for 7 years, 130k miles, never disapointed me, sold it a year ago for $1500, it’s a shame how Ford neglecting these cars.

  • avatar
    Paul Milenkovic

    What I don’t get is that the car has an 8 second 0-60 time and all kinds of people are calling it underpowered? I know everyone wants a car to burn rubber like the 60’s vintage GTO, but I would consider 8 seconds to be perfectly adequate, especially for a car that purports to get good fuel mileage for its size.

    Something else is going on here. Never drove one, but from what I am hearing about the CVT (close-ratio 6-speed probably not that different) is that acceleration is more like a jet takeoff than a car takeoff. A jet takeoff has the engines “spooling up” and making a lot of noise without much happening, the engines continuing to make a lot of racket, which seems to distract a person from the fact that you are starting to sink back in your seat, and then you are suddenly staring at the ground from a distance, wondering how you got from Point A to Point B. A car takeoff is supposed to make you notice that you are going right away, some tailing off of the surge, and then the sense that you are reaccelerating as the gear change catches the center of the power band, along with some orchestral backup of the engine pitch rising and falling — the vroom-vroom effect we all made as kids to imagine we were driving race cars.

    Do you suppose the car is really that slow (it is supposed to be faster than the 300M in one or other powertrain configuration, or at least on paper)? Or do you suppose there is something psychological at work here? In the absence of the vroom-vroom engine sounds and the jerks of the gear changes, do we suppose that the car isn’t going anyplace?

    In a way it is really too bad — we tear into Ford for not anticipating high gas prices and being too wedded to selling SUV’s, and here Ford comes out with a car, with a high seating position and tons of room to appeal to people driving SUV’s, with the 24V 3L from the Taurus, admittedly too small an engine for a vehicle that size, but mated to transmissions (the 6-speed and CVT) that are supposed to transmute that combination into big car, adequate acceleration, and good gas mileage.

    All car makers are subject to the same laws of physics, and all of the variables in a car — interior room, mass for safety, stiffness, and quiet, acceleration, gas mileage. When they stick that 3.5 L in that thing, all of the car critics are going to sing the praises of how much better it is, but it is not going to get the same gas mileage, no matter how they tune the bigger motor, and in the same breadth we are going to tear into Ford for manufacturing gas guzzlers when gas goes back to $3/gallon this summer.

    Maybe the gas mileage of this thing isn’t all that great after all — do people know what you get when you drive it TTAC style and what you get when you drive it granny style?

    • 0 avatar
      Nebula7

      @ Paul Milenkovic
      Well people don’t like to feel the transmission shift anymore they want all this powerglide chickenshit BS and people buy it, so they only make that, so people like us have to put up with crappy ass shifting characteristics.

      I drive granny style and I’m 18, I notice people don’t even know what coasting is, or gas mileage. Hell my car is only rated for 17 city but I manage to get 20.5 city, and it’s rated 25mpg hwy, but I stay around 55 and get 32mpg, people don’t know that they have to change their driving habbits if they want the cars they drive to last, it’s common sense people, think.

      BTW: I agree with you all the way. I just needed to add some of my thoughts….

  • avatar

    Paul Milenkovic:
    It’s a known fact that one of the top priorities when choosing a car is power, I suspect this is why we (in America) don’t get BMW 318, or 520, also small cars like Mazda 3 comes with a 1.4L to 2.0L engines in Europe, the 2.3L is an American special.
    After all, take a Grand Marquis, almost the same size as the Montego, not much more HP, but that V8 does all that magic off the line with better torque and smoothness .

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I’ve had several hundreds of vehicles over the last few years. A Crown Vic Police Interceptor has always been one of my favorites for highway cruising.

    A little over a week ago I bought my third one in as many years for $3200. It’s got 96k miles and never saw active police duty in the small town I did the auction for. Instead it was used by the department of public works as an errand vehicle, and it was maintained like clockwork every 3000 miles. By the way, if your city has a well organized government attached to it (think gentrifiers, not slumlords) then I strongly advise you attend their next annual auction.

    The Interceptor simply does wonders for my daily commute (for obvious reasons) and is an extremely comfortable cruiser. I can easily cruise at 85 to 90 and all the other cars go off to the right. Not even a Rolls Royce can lay claim to that fame.

    Before this one I had a 98 model with 177k (bought for $1065 on Ebay believe it or not, it just needed headlights), a 95 model used by the local detective (bought for $1500 with very nice cloth seats in it), and an 89 Mustang Interceptor with only 90k miles (bought for $1500, used by the chief as a spare vehicle over the years).

    I’ve also owned Camrys (including a 94 that I put 239k miles on), Accords, A4’s, Passats, Impala’s, Intrepid’s, and over a dozen Benzez (one of which was north of 100k) . The only cars that gave me more daily satisfaction on the highways than the Crown Vic Interceptors were the Audi A8 (1st gen) and the Jaguar XJ series. The Audi had a compact feel that I simply loved, and the XJ’s (late 90’s and early 00’s) brought forth this amazing feeling of calmness and serenity in the daily commutes. For some reason the Lexus sedans always had this feeling of detachment (except for the IS300 which was just quirky) while the Jaguar XJ’s still offered a genuine connection to the driving experience.

    You know what? I can still smell those beautiful British leather seats and hear the crispness of the Karmann stereo system. I really believe anger management classes and the various forms of stress related therapies wouldn’t exist at all the patients were driving XJ’s instead.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    After reading mnumerous reviews on this site, I’m convinced that there are no manufacturers capable of making a decent interior. Also, any car not capable of 0-60 in less than 8 seconds is not worth the metal it was stamped from.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    numerous (sorry)

  • avatar
    Qusus

    Steven Lang:

    That is a sweet deal on a Interceptor. 96K miles for 3200? What year was it, where did you buy it and how can I get to my local governmental auction?

    cheezeweggie –

    No interior is perfect but typically VW/Audi’s and Acura’s seem like the most commonly praised interiors on this site.

  • avatar
    Turbo G

    No one buys these because their resale value is awful. They may start off “cheap” because they are priced thousands under MSRP but in the long run they cost a lost more to own when one takes into account depreciation. Period. Why would you pick this car over its Japanese counterparts? Unless you lived in Detroit like a previous post mentioned…..

  • avatar
    Johnster

    While the Five Hundred and Montego have a side profile that looks like a larger version of the previous generation Volkswagen Passat, from some angles the Five Hundred does have a resemblance to the First Gen Taurus.

    The three-bar grill of the new Taurus and Taurus X manages to give them a different appearance from the older Five Hundred and Freestyle, but the new Sable really looks about the same as the old Montego. I was hoping that it would get a new, more distinctive, grill. Maybe something with a light bar like the old First Gen Sable.

    Here in Colorado, the all-wheel drive Five Hundred, Freestyle, Fusion, and Escape have all been advertised heavily on TV this past winter. And Mercury has been running ads with Mercury spokesperson, Jill Wagoner, promoting the all-wheel drive Mercury Milan and Mariner.

    I would disagree with the comments that some of you have made about the timeliness of this roadtest. I suspect that 2007 Ford Five Hundreds, Freestyles and Mercury Montegos are going to be sitting on dealer lots well into 2008, even with all the factory incentives.

    I’ve even read on another website that Ford is considering making available to their dealers, kits, that would replace the old Five Hundred, Freestyle and Montego grills and chrome trim with the grills and trim from the newer Taurus, Taurus X and Sable. (But they’d still have the old clunky 3.0 liter V6s.) But, hey, it worked for Kaiser back in 1952.

    I sure hope the 3.5 liter V6 turns out to be a good engine. While the new Taurus/Sable won’t be able to compete with the Avalon, it should give the Hyundai Azera and Kia Amanti a good run for the money, and I think it should be a better car than the elderly Buick LaCrosse, Chevy Impala, Pontiac Grand Prix. It should even be better than the crappy V6-powered Buick Lucerne, Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Magnum. No threat to the V8-powered versions, though. The Grand Marquis and Crown Vic don’t have anything to worry about, either.

    Oh, and what’s up with the Lincoln version of the new Taurus/Sable, the MKS? Supposedly it was going to get the same Yamaha-build 4.4 liter V8 as the Volvo S80. Then I heard that Ford couldn’t afford the Yamaha V-8 and the MKS was supposed to get the same 3.5 V6 as the Taurus/Sable. And then the MKS stopped showing up at auto shows.

  • avatar
    dean

    I like the comment that the 500/Montego is a great car for the price, after mentioning the great below-invoice deal. Ford doesn’t need people thinking it is a great buy at $7k under MSRP, because that means they don’t make any money. They need people to think it is a great car AT MSRP, and it would seem pretty clear that people don’t.

    For the record, I think with some minor sheet metal tweaks it could be a really sharp car.

  • avatar
    partsisparts

    The 500 and the Montego have some of the best overall packaging in the industry, and the worst marketing. Not everyone care about 0-60 times. But then again some of the fastest muscle cars of the 60’s could not do 0-60 in 8 seconds.
    These cars are roomy, very comfortable on long drives, and have huge trunks. If they were marketed like the Fusion with “challege commercials” putting them up against there competition, they would sell much better. What else out there can you put 8 golf bags in the trunk of. Also, available AWD another thing it’s competitirs lack.
    This car suffers from the wrong marketing. It needs to be put up against it’s competitors.

  • avatar
    Maxb49

    Sajeev, I enjoyed reading the review. I recently drove a top trim level Five Hundred and found it pretty decent. It isn’t a driving enthusiast’s car, then again it isn’t supposed to be. It’s got more room than any sedan short of a Town Car, and the best ride out of all family cars on the market. But Partsisparts is right, Ford cannot get its marketing down right and their entire model lineup suffers as a result.

    100% of sales is marketing. Take the worst car imaginable. Market it right, and it will sell. Maybe not for long, but initially it will sell.

    A lot of the problems come from Ford dealers themselves, who refuse to sell customers the cars they ask for. I swear to God, last March my father went into a dealer to buy (CASH!) a diesel Expedition that sat on the lot. The veteran car dealer wasted an hour of our time telling us unrelated stories trying to talk us into a differnt vehicle. I’m not the only one with such experiences.

    Oh, and what’s up with the Lincoln version of the new Taurus/Sable, the MKS?

    One has to wonder if Ford, should the MKS come about, will change the nomenclature back to Continental.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    What I don’t get is that the car has an 8 second 0-60 time and all kinds of people are calling it underpowered?

    Paul Milenkovic: 8 seconds isn’t terrible, but its how the job gets done. The 3.0 Duratec is buzzy and coarse, you feel like you beating on the poor machine just to get what V6 Camry/Accord/Fusion etc does with little stress. Its a bummer.
    ——————
    One has to wonder if Ford, should the MKS come about, will change the nomenclature back to Continental.

    Maxb49: From what I heard, the Lincoln MKS production car will be unveiled at an upcoming auto show. Ford and Mercury wised up to new names, but I doubt Lincoln will do the right thing…they follow Cadillac’s plan for success. Its easier to follow, ya know.

  • avatar
    Seth

    Playing second fiddle doesnt work very well in auto business (after all car is the second most expensive item for many people after house)

    Example: Mitsubishi/Subaru/Suzuki are all second tier while Honda/Toyoda/Nissan(?) are considered as first tier. Most people want to make a safe choice and go with the pack leaders and they are rewarded (sometimes in intangible benefits).

    Moral of the story is that Mercury is in the pits and doesnt have strong product that is eye catchy. Mercury is neither a safe choice nor has a cool product. Lose lose situation if you ask me.

  • avatar
    86er

    All these comments re: traditional full-size unabashed American cars in my view is indicative of a latent discontent at what has happened in recent years. The ’85 Deville was the first blow, and I’m wondering what will be the final straw.

    A shame that Ford has left the CV/GM wither on the vine, but at least they’re still building them (albeit largely for fleet use).

    I’m hoping the ’09 Impala is not some rebadged Holden, otherwise my hope of getting behind the wheel of a (new) vehicle that looks and feels American will likely be extinguished for good.

  • avatar
    UnclePete

    Another good review Sajeev! The last Mercury that remotely interested me was the Maurauder… too bad Ford does not let Merc have its own true identity.

    86er: I’m hoping the ‘09 Impala is not some rebadged Holden, otherwise my hope of getting behind the wheel of a (new) vehicle that looks and feels American will likely be extinguished for good.

    I own a rebadged Holden… first GM car I have owned and enjoyed in a long time (I am a long-time GM truck buyer though.) The Aussies never lost the feel of what a V8 RWD car should be like. GM here in the US can use the help.

  • avatar
    Turbo G

    I own the Holden rebadge too (2006 GTO) It is not your average GM car…. Can’t wait to see the G8…

  • avatar
    CasterOil

    Turbo G:

    I would expect that the G8 will blow you away in terms of steering, chassis ability and confluence, and general “smile” factor. It is a generation ahead of the 10 year old Monaro chassis, and reflects it.

    The only problem is the agricultural quality (not to mention lack of grunt!) of the V6 engines, although they are more than acceptable fuel economy-wise.

    Go for the LS2 with T-56 Tremec, and it’s a hoot of a car.

    Oh, it’s also much better looking without the bonnet scoops……

  • avatar
    86er

    UnclePete: I own a rebadged Holden… first GM car I have owned and enjoyed in a long time (I am a long-time GM truck buyer though.) The Aussies never lost the feel of what a V8 RWD car should be like. GM here in the US can use the help.
    ———–
    Well then, I look forward to it. Seeing the G8 I think the Impala could more unabased American styling come ’09. To each his own, as they say.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    The G8 has insane potential. Judging by what I saw of it in pictures, the quality of the GTO’s interior, and the wonderful craftsmanship of the CTS, this one could be a winner. And the styling is okay since it doesn’t have a retro name like the Aussie GTO.

    I’ve spent enough time with that RWD chassis, the LS2 and T-56 to know that this package will rock the house, right out of the box.

    I wouldn’t be surprised that a V8 G8 won’t be significantly higher than a decked out Montego.

    V8 G8. Nice.

  • avatar
    Paul Milenkovic

    Sajeev:

    There is this fellow Dave Foster, who does research on combustion and gives public talks on fuel efficiency and the future of the IC engine in cars. When people ask him why the automakers are holding back on, say, 50 or even 100 MPG cars, his answer is “so, what are you willing go give up?”

    I guess from not only your review, but the corroborating input of may other people who have drive the Montego/Five Hundred is that maybe you don’t so much give up absolute acceleration, but the car has a “Caption, she no-gonna take it much longer!” quality under full throttle.

    A small displacement engine is not an automatic recipe for high fuel efficiency. The Volvo’s of ages past were big, heavy, boxy cars with little four cylinder engines, and while acceleration was glacial (I remember a bumper sticker on one making fun of the zero-60 time along with all of the usual Volvo owner bumper stickers), the fuel economy was nothing spectacular either.

    On the other hand, a modern aerodynamically-efficient car on radial tires doesn’t need that much power to cruise at highway speeds, and a lot of the highway gas consumption consists of heat and friction losses in a motor that is oversized for cruise conditions but needs to be large enough so the car can get out of its own way when conditions warrant.

    It has long been known that a free breathing small displacement engine can generate all of the required horsepower needed, and with the right transmission settings and good aerodynamics and low rolling resistance tires, a small displacement engine can give good fuel economy. Almost all current cars have considerably smaller displacement engines, even for the same size and lately upward creeping weight of cars.

    One thing the big displacement rear-drive V8 car offered besides higher weight and lower fuel economy was much smoother operation. A small displacement engine can be tuned for the horsepower, but it will have to rev faster and longer and will make a lot more fuss moving the car.

    So I guess Ford made a big product-planning mistake with that powertrain in trying to push fuel efficiency. But the review community, which has a role in educating consumers into what tradeoffs are possible, is their partner in crime. If you are comparing the Crown Vic, Chrysler 300, and Ford Five Hundred, you could say that the cars are comparable in size, but the Five Hundred will get you 30 MPG on the highway while the Crown Vic and 300 will only get you 25. That is like you are paying $2.50/gallon for gas when those other guys are paying $3/gallon, but for their troubles, those other guys are getting a smoother-running car – you decide. If you are comparing Camry-Avalon-Fusion for V6 performance and smoothness, that is a whole different game because those are smaller cars.

    But what does the automotive review community do with the Five Hundred? They throw up their hands and say “engine is too small” while in other writings they will say “Ford is in trouble because they concentrate on the F-150 and won’t come up with new car designs.”

    The situation can’t all be put at the feet of reviewers or auto consumers — Ford really dropped the ball on educating the public about what is good about that car. On the other hand, the Montego/Five Hundred is really a mass-market version of a Volvo, both in terms of the chassis as well as the attributes of big-boxy-crash safe-no a tire burner, and while there is a market for Volvos, it is always been a niche market.

    I guess the sad thing is that Ford will take away the lesson that apart from the Prius (which too is a niche market), there is no market for fuel efficiency and will back away from other cars exploring the edge of the envelope. They will stick the 3.5 in there, the critics will be happy, the auto-buying public will probably be unimpressed because the car has been out there for so long, and I can buy myself a used one with a 3.0 for cheap if I am willing to forgo the upcoming stability control

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Paul,
    Interesting points. I definitely agree that Ford dropped the ball marketing the 500/Montego. Even they admitted it, deciding to extend their support for the Fusion far beyond the usual introductory spend.

    That’s why we see all those C&D commercials comparing Fusion to Camry and Accord. I wonder what they will do with the Edge. I really couldn’t stand much more of that song about liking to live on the Ayedge.

  • avatar
    UnclePete

    Turbo G: Yep, I have an ’06 GTO also. I am just waiting for the snow to melt here in the north east.

    Paul, you have some good stuff in there. I had an E39 BMW 528 wagon that was comfortable, held lots of stuff and could get 28-29mpg with 110,000 miles on the odo. While not a speed demon off the line, it was a very smooth car at speeds somewhat north of the legal limits. I can’t see why the automakers can’t build a smooth, efficient six like BMW can.

    SherbornSean: I wonder what they will do with the Edge. I really couldn’t stand much more of that song about liking to live on the Ayedge.
    I hate that bloody song too. The faster it goes off the air, the happier I will be.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    I guess from not only your review, but the corroborating input of may other people who have drive the Montego/Five Hundred is that maybe you don’t so much give up absolute acceleration, but the car has a “Caption, she no-gonna take it much longer!” quality under full throttle.
    ———————–
    Paul, that is very well put. Except for one thing: a modern family sedan needing 8 seconds to 60mph isn’t very good at all. Its the 1960s all over again, Ford’s playing catch up to GM and Mopar muscle. Except that Toyota/Honda/Nissan sedans are now the modern-day GTO/Chevelle/Cuda.

    The history buffs can argue that, if they wish. :)

    But there’s more: aside from better fuel economy/performance, the Avalon isn’t much smaller than the Montego, only 100lbs lighter and “handicapped” by a 5-speed automatic.

    Even with next year’s improvements, the 2008 Sable is playing catch up to its smaller competition. I don’t see the Volvo-Fords working out without a major redesign.

    A redesign that’s better off on the Panther.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    The Five Hundred/Montego is perhaps the best value in the large FWD car segment right now. Having driven one for hundreds of miles (a rental) I can say I was pleasantly surprised. Compared to the Impala it is a much better driving car with considerably better refinement and packaging. Sure it isn't a looker, but neither is the Impala. Chevy is selling Impalas reasonably well while these sit on the lots. Perhaps instead of Taurus/Sable Ford should be calling this an LTD :). 

  • avatar

    The Montego is rated higher than the Avalon at Edmund’s, and I see the D3 cars as enormous values (joke intended, but also meant literally).

    8 seconds to 60 for a family car that doesn’t claim to be a sports sedan? What’s the issue? The power war in the family car segment is largely silly, as the potential of the cars is usually untested throughout their lives.

    The new motor should help silence the one major ocmplaint against these cars. I hope so…after years of reading how “boring” Toyota entries were, the near-crucifiction of the D3 cars for the same sin seems completely ridiculous.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Sajeev:
    A redesign that’s better off on the Panther.

    Is the AU Ford Falcon a BOF or unit body vehicle? Your thoughts as to Panther vs. Falcon? (don’t know much about the latter)

  • avatar
    Maxb49

    The new motor should help silence the one major ocmplaint against these cars. I hope so…after years of reading how “boring” Toyota entries were

    What happened to Toyota will happen to Ford (and General Motors). The cars are going to be slammed for the next few months in the automotive press. Ford catches on, introduces new engines to go along with nicely equipped cars, complaint is over, cars start selling.

    “Performance family sedan” is an oxymoron and journalists’ attempts at tearing these cars apart because they don’t drive like a Porsche 911 Carrera misrepresents the car and hurts honest business.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    starlightmica: I don’t know much about the Falcon, other than its awesome powertrains, of course.

    Some concerns: the trunk is obviously less usable for Taxis, and I doubt the dash has the real estate to easily add police equipment. That and it looks generic, the proportions aren’t boldly American like the Panther.

    The Panther follows the KISS principle and it makes money. That’s pretty much why I think it needs to stick around.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Side note: I don’t think anyone’s gonna cry if the D3 disappears one day and RWD Falcons start coming out of the Chicago plant.

    Forget about keeping up with the Avalons, that’s how you win ‘em over.

  • avatar
    Maxb49

    Side note: I don’t think anyone’s gonna cry if the D3 disappears one day and RWD Falcons start coming out of the Chicago plant.

    Look for the Ford Galaxie (a.k.a. Interceptor) to arrive at dealerships at the same time as the new Chevy Camaro. The next thing we will be hearing is “Toyota is out of touch with the auto buying public. They dictate to buyers rather than anticipate.” All I can say is, as long as the cars keep getting better, then let the games continue! ;)

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    If Ford actually greenlights the Galaxie (that’s a great name, btw) they’ll bring Americana back where it belongs…a sales leader, that is.

    Toyota is real good about improving on the FWD, transverse engine, unibody platform. But their stars wouldn’t shine so bright against a Galaxie or two.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    And I’m sure you’re not the only one who feels that way.

  • avatar
    CasterOil

    Sajeev, feast your eyes on the new FPV (Ford Performance Vehicles) Typhoon, as Highway Patrol cars.

    Awesome looking, fully functional, quick, enhanced handling and power over a standard XR6 turbo.

    You don’t want to see one of these things rapidly filling your rear-view mirrors…..

  • avatar
    pls

    After driving 19 Tauruses (Tauri?) I moved up to a 500 in the company car this year. As a replacement to the Taurus I think it might come across as a more refined, roomier, not much less bland replacement.

    One thing about the big trunk that I was looking forward to having this year – it’s designed to minimize usefulness. There’s a big hole in the middle, which gives it it’s depth, but everything falls in it wasting all the space around the edges. It isn’t as useful as the square foot numbers indicate.

    The car really isn’t underpowered. It’s just a whiney, high revving engine that doesn’t feel like it belongs in a full size near luxury hopful car. The car feels like it should have some v8 torque, but it doesn’t.

    I’m really pretty happy with the car, but I won’t be getting one again next year. I’m only in my mid 40’s and this thing make me feel older than that. It could be a buick.

  • avatar
    Studedude1961

    The Mercury Montego is okay and not nearly as disappointing as the launch of the Mercury Monterey a few years ago. I went to the local auto show that year all jazzed that Mercury was bringing back the Monterey. I truly had visions of Breezeways and retro styling in my head. Imagine my disappointment to find it was only another generic minivan. I didn’t feel that way about the Montego. It’s what the original was: nothing overly dramatic, but nice, clean, and will get you from point A to point B in relative non-controversial style. All the Ford 500 really lacked was the name “Galaxie” in front of the 500. It would have sold like nickel hotcakes.

  • avatar
    nino

    The problem as I see it is the 500/Montego, while being described as being large cars, look like the small or mid-size cars. I know they are roomy inside, but they just don’t look like a big car. That’s why the Crown Vic and Grand Marquis still sell well, they look like the large cars that they are. People that want a large car want it to to look like a large car. It’s not that hard to figure out.
    ———————————————

    Yep.

    My F-I-L went to look at a new Grend Marquis when I had suggested he look at the Montego instead. He liked the way it drove, he liked the interior, and he liked the room.

    But he would NEVER buy it!

    The reason he gave me, “It doesn’t look like a BIG car!”

    So now he has a Grand Marquis that is slower than the Montego and is no where near as good a driver, but it looks like the big car he has always liked.

    And he’s going to put on the fake convertible top on this car that we stopped him from putting on his 2001 Impala.

  • avatar
    Studedude1961

    The funny thing about the Grand Marquis and a basic design flaw of the car going way back to 1978 when the basic layout was first designed is sure, it looks like a big car and is, but it’s not all that big inside for anyone over 5’11. Legroom has always been lacking.

  • avatar
    davey49

    The Five Hundred/Montego/Taurus/Sable is the best car sold in the US. Sports car driving car mag reading whiny enthusiasts have no idea how good it is.

  • avatar

    davey49:

    That’s quite a statement. Car to be a bit more specific?

    What makes it THE BEST?


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