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2004 Mercury Monterey Road Test

By Tom Strongman
Photos by Charles Ofria

Category: $30,000 - $35,000 Minivan
Who should buy this car: A family looking for an upscale, practical, functional minivan that has room and style.
Comparable models in this class: Chevrolet Venture, Chrysler Town and Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Ford Windstar, Ford Freestar, Honda Odyssey, Mazda MPV, Nissan Quest, Oldsmobile Silhouette, Pontiac Montana, Toyota Sienna
Mercury has dropped its Villager minivan and replaced it with the larger Monterey.

"Monterey leads the product renaissance at Mercury and re-energizes our brand with exclusive features and safety characteristics not available on other minivans," said Darryl Hazel, president of Lincoln-Mercury. "Monterey's stylish, modern design also positions it well for the growing upper end of the minivan segment."

Monterey is a cousin to the new Ford Freestar, which was formerly the Windstar. The Windstar was so thoroughly reworked that Ford gave it a new name.

The Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Nissan Quest all have unique features that makes the minivan segment very competitive, and the Monterey was developed with that in mind. It offers a safety canopy air bag system for all three rows of seats, heated and cooled front seats and a third seat that not only folds into the floor but flips around like a couch for tailgating.

Compared to Ford, Mercury is perceived as an upscale brand. Monterey is available in Convenience, Luxury and Premium trim levels. The Convenience model starts at $29,995, including destination.

The test vehicle was a preproduction Premier model whose price was $35,795. Standard equipment included alloy wheels, roof rails, side airbags and safety canopy, AdvanceTrac vehicle stability system, anti-lock brakes, traction control, front and rear parking sensors, heated and cooled leather seats, adjustable pedals, power sliding doors and three-zone heating and cooling.

A power liftgate will be available later in the year.

The 4.2-liter engine is the largest in the minivan segment, but its 201 horsepower output is somewhat less than most powerful in the class. This engine generates 263 pound-feet of torque, and that gives it decent midrange throttle response. Towing capacity is 3,500 pounds. While this engine is not the smoothest, Ford has done a good job of isolating engine vibration from the vehicle. Noise level is moderate.

This engine is rated at 16 miles per gallon in the city and 22 on the highway. According to the on-board computer, I averaged 15.2 mpg in city driving.

Many of the Monterey's styling cues reflect the Mountaineer SUV.  Inside, the cabin is a comfortable, well-appointed place. The fit, finish and quality of materials is like a luxury SUV. The instrument panel has chrome-trimmed gauges and a nicely textured surface. Faux wood trim lends a feeling of warmth.

A storage bin sits between the front seats, but its width is restricted by the placement of the emergency brake handle. A foot-operated brake would enable the center console to be nearly twice as wide.

Once you use power sliding side doors, it's clear why they are so popular. Loading kids in and out is a breeze, and you can even open both sides at once.

Following the lead of Toyota and Honda, the Mercury's third seat tumbles into the floor to create a flat load space, and the headrests don't have to be removed. For tailgating, the third seat pivots backward to face outward. The seat is counterbalanced so folding it can be done easily.

The second-row bucket seats are a little close to the front seats, inhibiting legroom for adults. Because they're buckets, they are easy to fold for access to the third seat.

Monterey offers a comprehensive safety package with more than 30 safety features. These include a segment-exclusive side air bag and safety canopy system that includes a rollover sensor and provides protection for all three rows of passengers; AdvanceTrac stability control system with traction control and panic brake assist; occupant-sensing passenger front air bag; four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes; a reinforced structure designed for offset frontal impacts; three-point safety belts and head restraints at all seating positions; a low tire pressure warning system and available self-sealing tires.

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Specifications 

Engine Type 4.2-liter, Overhead Valve (OHV) V6
Horsepower 201 @ 4,250 RPM
Torque 265 @ 3,500 RPM
Fuel Recommended Regular Unleaded.
Transmission 4-Speed Automatic
Tires - Standard All-season steel belted radial P235/60R16 tires.
Overall Length 201.5"
Wheelbase 120.8"
Width 76.6"
Turning Diameter 39.5 ft Curb to Curb
Curb Weight 4,406 lbs.
Fuel Tank 26 Gallons
Miles Per Gallon EPA city 16, hwy 22
Base Sticker Price
(Includes Destination Charge)
Convenience Luxury Premier
$29,995 $34,165 $35,795

2004 Mercury Monterey

Standard Equipment

  • 7 person total seating capacity
  • cloth upholstery
  • heated front seats
  • 6-way power driver seat
  • front and rear ventilated disc brakes
  • 4-wheel ABS
  • manual sliding side door
  • tire pressure monitoring
  • Front Fog/Driving Lights
  • front and rear parking sensors
  • dual zone air conditioning
  • overhead console with storage
  • AM/FM cassette in-dash single CD

The Luxury Model adds...

  • dual power sliding side doors
  • leather upholstery
  • 6-way power passenger seat
  • height adjustable pedals
  • ventilated front seats
  • digital keypad power door locks
  • heated mirrors
  • electrochromatic inside rearview mirror
  • dual zone climate controls
  • leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • memory seat
  • dual front side-mounted airbags
  • front, rear and third row head airbags
  • automatic headlamps
  • turn signal mirrors
  • universal garage door opener

The Premium Model Has All the Luxury Model Features Plus...

  • emergency braking assist
  • traction control
  • stability control

Major Available Options

  • Self-Sealing Tires
  • Roof Rack Crossbars

For more information on the Sienna, visit mercuryvehicles.com

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