Overview & Reviews
Back in the distant pre-SUV era, humungous gas-guzzling station wagons were the preferred mode of travel for growing families across America. The energy crises of the 1970s caused gas prices to spike and sparked seismic shifts in consumer preferences. In the years that followed, a growing number of American families chose to hit the road in more space- and fuel-efficient vehicles. Enter the minivan, and among them, the Mercury Villager. While those old station wagons were yacht-sized, the Villager was yacht-themed -- assuming you opted for the top-level Nautica trim that was, as its sales literature crowed, "inspired by the sea."
Mercury is, of course, a Ford subsidiary; the Villager wasn't Ford's first entry into the minivan market. Ford's initial answer to Chrysler's groundbreaking front-wheel-drive minivan was the truck-based Aerostar. Initially successful, its popularity dipped in of the wake of competition from the growing numbers of modern car-based designs from Japan and America. In 1993, Ford finally introduced a car-based van of its own with the Mercury Villager. The product of a joint venture with Nissan, the front-drive Villager attempted to inject a little pizzazz into the mostly staid minivan segment. The Villager was also intended to bridge the gap between Ford's aging rear-drive van and its forthcoming, freshly engineered Windstar.
Sharing its underpinnings and power plant with its Nissan platform-mate, the U.S.-built Mercury Villager differed mostly by exterior and interior styling details such as Mercury's signature light-bar grille, seen on early models. The Villager was available in three flavors of trim. The top-level Nautica Special Edition helped it stand apart from its rivals early on, with a classy two-toned paint scheme and leather-trimmed captain's chairs that certainly made it the minivan of choice for the preppy set. There was simply no Previa Tommy Hilfiger Edition or J. Crew Odyssey to compete with.
In an era in which many minivans had removable rear seats that were awkward to handle, the Villager was noted for its unique rearmost seat. This seat could easily be slid forward on integrated tracks to accommodate five passengers. The Villager also offered a sizable cargo area out back.
Another bragging point early on was its "in-between" size. The Villager was larger than a standard short-wheelbase minivan, but smaller than extended competitors like Dodge's Grand Caravan. Despite a freshening in 1996 and complete redesign in 1999, its size and seating configurations remained largely unchanged. Although second-generation vehicles provided a more balanced ride and handling, the Mercury Villager offered merely adequate power throughout its lifespan and was never a standout performer when pitted against its class-leading rivals.
Used minivan shoppers who find its size and amenities agreeable could consider a later-model Mercury Villager. However, we think there's greater utility and value for the money to be found in a Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna or in Chrysler's minivans. Budget-minded shoppers should also consider the Kia Sedona.
Most Recent Mercury Villager
The second-generation Mercury Villager spanned 1999-2002 and received few changes. Similar in size and appearance to its predecessor, it really didn't stand much of a chance, given its lack of refinement and compromised utility. At its dawn, the Villager featured a 3.3-liter V6 good for 170 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. Ride and handling were improved from the previous van, as were interior ergonomics. Available in base, Sport and luxurious Estate models, the Villager offered new styling inside and out to complement the new second manual sliding door on the driver side. The Nautica model was scuttled during these years.
During this generation, there were a few minor additions and rearrangements of the equipment list. The only significant update occurred for 2001, when the exterior and interior were freshened.
Past Mercury Villager Models
The first-generation Mercury Villager debuted in 1993 for a six-year run through '98. It sat seven people, with a standard middle-row bench or available quad captain's chairs. Initially offered only in GS and LS trim levels, it was soon available in the popular Nautica edition. Although its body style lent utility and passenger space, the 151-hp 3.0-liter V6 offered only adequate power and lagged behind more powerful rivals as the years wore on. In an attempt to keep up, it was freshened for '96 with new exterior styling and an updated dash equipped with a passenger-side airbag. Automatic climate control and an integrated child seat were also newly available. Passenger comfort and convenience were further enhanced for '97 with rear audio and climate controls. Although it's attractive and comfortable enough, there are better alternatives from that era available. Still, a Villager in mint condition might be worth a look.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 159.00
Villager by choice - 2002 Mercury Villager
By alanstern - December 28 - 8:53 pm
My second Villager. Editors think this is a junker, I like it better than the Sienna and Odyssey plus a lot cheaper. Seating configuration works for me..I'm a musician. Power and gas mileage are more than adequate. What about the falling rear window wiper blade? Mine's the fourth one I've seen. Shouldn't this be a safety recall Issue? No serious problems.
Happy with my Villager - 1999 Mercury Villager
By ecstatic - November 25 - 8:43 am
Have owned since new. A delight to own and drive. Excellent build and quality control. Much fewer problems than my Mercedes and previous Nissan Quest.
So far So good - 1999 Mercury Villager
By Aaron Lowry - October 4 - 2:00 am
I have had this van for only a year. Bought it with only 36K and now has 46K. Has not been in the shop and dont plan on it. IMy wife drives it daily for basic around town errands and hauling kids. She loves it for what we use it for. It would be a little cramped for adults in the back for long trips, but great for small families and hauling small ones around. Just took the familiy on a trip and covered about 1,000 miles, the van was a solid performer. I would have to say that I would rather own a Sienna or an Odyseey, but these are both well overpriced. Overall, this van is the best bang for your buck as far as price, ride quality and reliability.
Good Mini-Van - 2002 Mercury Villager
By kcowboy - September 27 - 10:00 am
Excellent mini-van with all the bells and whistles that won't break the bank. You can get a great deal on one because its the last year their making it. Its the type of vehicle that you don't have to pay sticker on! unlike some brands. This is our second Villager our other was a 93 and it never had any problems.
The Mercury Villager - 2002 Mercury Villager
By Jeff Purdy - September 27 - 10:00 am
The Mercury Villager is a great minivan. We have owned three, a 1996 GS model, a 1998 Multi-Sport model, and now a 2002 Estate model. They have been good to us. It is too bad Mercury is going to stop making them.They are comfortable, quiet, and kind of neat- looking. Nissan did a good job of designing them.
I love MY Villager! - 2001 Mercury Villager
By luvmyvillager - September 14 - 5:40 am
My Villager has been extremely reliable and comfortable. I have had no problems with it. It's a fun van to drive and I wish they were still making them!
Great Van with few problems - 2002 Mercury Villager
By 86bmw325i - September 3 - 9:23 pm
This van is great. This is my 7th year of owning it and had a previous 1995 model Villager. I love the performance and semi sporty handling, better than the other minivans I test drove. The interior is well designed, except that it has so much plastic used. The dashboard rattles when it idles, so I took it too the dealership, but of coarse they said they couldn't hear it. Had an exhaust leak at about 90k, the mechanic couldn't order the right part because they quit making it, so he had to weld the old one. It still whines a little when you accelerate, nothing big, though. Also, I can feel engine vibrations through the steering wheel. But, other than that, it's a great mini-van.
The da!~ gas pedal - 1999 Mercury Villager
By K Logie - August 30 - 10:26 am
Purchased 99 Villager w/ 46,000 miles last year, seemed like a great used vehicle (clean, good shape, no accident history). Brought back to dealer b/c the gas pedal was stuck. "Supposedly" it was fixed, when I picked it up, after them having for a week, I had to drive from MA to MO and realized the tachometer stopped working and the gas pedal was still sticking! The vehicle has 79,000 miles on it, pretty much everything on the dash has stopped working, except the speedometer works about 50% of the time. Getting rid of it now before something else goes wrong! Previously owned a 96 Villager, other than gas pedal it was a great van!
I Love My Villager! - 2000 Mercury Villager
By godzgirlprayz - August 25 - 9:47 am
This is the best vehicle I've ever had! It has nearly 150k mi, I got it with 39k mi. It handles well. No major problems, have only had to do regular maintenance until just recent. Now it's starting to run rough, like it's going to stall out. Shimmy in the steering when I go over 70 mph. Replaced timing belt at 100k. repaired ac switch (front & back) around 120k. No probs with windows, radio, doors. Oxidation and paint peeling but it's 11 yrs old & we live in FL! Otherwise it's beautiful! We are gonna try to get it repaired bc I love this van!
Perfect vehicle for imperfect families - 1999 Mercury Villager
By spencersdad - August 21 - 10:00 am
A handsome package, flexible, capable and about the only "mini" van that can comfortably carry SIX passengers in comfort up&down I-5 without a mutiny.