Used car buyers looking for an affordable large sedan may find the Mercury Montego enticing as its poor initial sales, weak V6 and quick name change will likely keep prices low.
When the Mercury Montego first showed up in the late 1960s as a replacement for the popular Mercury Comet, it was meant to compete with the rising tide of imports. These Mercury sedans and coupes were larger than the Comet and offered additional performance and luxury variants. The Cyclone version was the division's entry in the then-popular muscle car segment. Under the skin, the Montego shared its platform with sister Ford division's Torino.
But by the mid-'70s, the Montego had grown considerably in size and was eventually discontinued. However, the Montego name wasn't without its successes; in the early '70s a Mercury Montego won several NASCAR races.
The Montego name was MIA throughout the 1980s and '90s. Then Mercury resurrected the Montego nameplate for the 2005 model year. It was still a clone of a Ford, however -- in this case the Five Hundred -- but with a different grille and taillights. Alas, this latest Montego revival was short-lived, as Mercury dropped the name and returned to the more well-known Sable moniker beginning with the 2008 model year.
Before its name change, the Mercury Montego didn't exactly light the large sedan segment on fire. However, it offered a roomy cabin and trunk, available all-wheel drive and an unusual elevated driving position, and its Volvo-derived underpinnings imbued it with a solid feel from the driver seat. If you find the Montego appealing, you're in luck -- low resale values make the Montego a bargain on the used-car market.
Most Recent Mercury Montego
The Mercury Montego large sedan remained largely unchanged during its brief existence. The Montego and its Ford twin, the Five Hundred, were built on a modified Volvo platform. Though it was never a segment leader, the big Mercury did have some interesting features. For example, it offered a notably high stance, which gave the driver a commanding view of the road similar to that of an SUV. The car also boasted a spacious rear seat and a large trunk with 21 cubic feet of storage space.
All Montegos came with a 3.0-liter V6 good for 203 horsepower. A six speed automatic was standard. Acceleration from this powertrain was adequate at best. Front-wheel or all-wheel-drive models were available. All-wheel-drive Montegos came with a constantly variable transmission (CVT). The six-speed automatic transmission performed decently, but the CVT was smoother and did a better job of keeping the engine in its power band.
What the Mercury Montego lacked in pure power, it partially made up for by offering engaging handling dynamics. It delivered both a comfortable around-town ride and a moderately sporty demeanor when the road turned twisty. The Montego's interior was also spacious and attractive. However, the quality of the materials was somewhat lacking when compared to the car's Japanese competitors.
Offered in two trim levels, Luxury (base) and Premier, this full-size Mercury was nicely equipped right out of the box. The Luxury came standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, HID headlights, foglights, dual-zone climate control and full power features including a six-way power driver seat.
The Premier added heated leather seating, wood-grain trim, an upgraded audio system and a two-person memory feature for the driver seat and mirrors. Exterior changes to the Premier included 18-inch wheels and perimeter lighting. Many of the Premier's upgraded features were available as options on the base Luxury trim.
Standard safety features included ABS, traction control, front and rear head curtain airbags, and front and rear side-mounted torso-protecting airbags. Stability control was not available on any Mercury Montego.
Past Mercury Montego Models
With just a few years in production, the Montego received only minor changes after its 2005 introduction. For 2006, the Montego was endowed with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, and a DVD entertainment system and a navigation system were added to the options list.
Bottom line: If you're looking for a used large sedan that prioritizes spaciousness over performance, there are worse choices. Moreover, the Montego's low resale value certainly adds to its appeal for shoppers on a budget. But if you're looking for a car that offers plenty of room along with spirited acceleration, you might want to consider other large sedans.