What's New for 2006
New options for the Montego in 2006 include a rear-seat DVD-based entertainment system and a GPS navigation system. All models get a standard leather-wrapped steering wheel with satin aluminum trim and audio controls.
Although there's still room for basic, economical transportation in the family sedan segment, many consumers now expect their sensible rides to incorporate liberal doses of style, power, convenience items and safety measures. Some buyers even go looking for luxury ambience and sporty handling in a segment once written off for its blandness and lack of originality. With the thoroughly mediocre Sable out of the spotlight, Mercury is now waging a two-pronged attack on the import-brand leaders: For buyers seeking athleticism, there's the midsize Milan. For buyers seeking maximum comfort, space and value, there's the full-size Montego.
Based on a platform shared with Volvo's S80, the Mercury Montego (as well as its Ford sibling, the Five Hundred) makes extensive use of Volvo safety and all-wheel-drive technology. A few inches longer than the Chrysler 300, the big Mercury car offers an airy cabin with eight cupholders, a full menu of airbags and one of the world's largest trunks (21 cubic feet). A tall seating position helps wean SUV groupies off the habit, while providing excellent visibility and easy entry for passengers.
The power source for the Mercury Montego is a 3.0-liter V6. Output is only 203 horsepower, putting the car at a disadvantage when compared to the powerhouse V6s offered by competitors. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) and a six-speed automatic are available, and buyers have a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Ride and handling is a strong point for the Montego, as Volvo genes give it a pleasant blend of comfort and agility. However, the brakes could use a little more power when it comes time to stop this 3,600-pound sedan. Although weak acceleration limits the car's appeal, its spacious and functional cabin makes the 2006 Mercury Montego a solid bet for families. Add in a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system and you've got a bona fide SUV alternative.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The full-size Mercury Montego sedan is available in one of two trims, Luxury and Premier. The Luxury starts you out with 17-inch alloy wheels, a six-way power driver seat, full power accessories, air conditioning, a CD player, cruise control, HID headlamps, dual-zone automatic climate control and a fold-flat front-passenger seat. Step up to the Premier and you'll get 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery, seat memory, an upgraded audio system, wood grain trim and heated front seats. Options on the Mercury car include a moonroof, adjustable pedals, a reverse-sensing system, rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a navigation system.
Powertrains and Performance
Every Mercury Montego comes with a 3.0-liter V6 rated for 203 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. Buyers have two transmission choices. The first of these is a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which has an infinite number of ratios and chooses whichever one best fits a given situation. The other option is a six-speed automatic. Buyers must also decide between front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. All front-drive Montegos come with the six-speed automatic, while AWD models get the CVT.
All Montegos come with a full set of disc brakes with ABS and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. Optional on all models are side-impact airbags that protect front occupants' torsos and side curtain airbags that protect the heads of outboard front and rear occupants. Traction control is standard on all Montegos, but stability control is not available. Front- and side-impact testing by the NHTSA returned a perfect five-star rating across the board. The IIHS named the Mercury Montego a "Best Pick" after conducting its frontal-offset crash test.
Interior Design and Special Features
Scrutinize the cabin and it's apparent that designers put a lot of thought into creating an attractive and functional environment. In lieu of the shapeless dash and seats found in the Sable, the Mercury Montego has the crisp, clean lines and two-tone interior typical of European sedans. The front seats are roomy enough to fit most drivers, yet the cockpit has a snug, almost intimate feel. Rear passengers are treated to equally spacious quarters, making these cars good bets for families with teenagers. The rear seats fold flat in a 60/40 split and this, along with a fold-flat front-passenger seat, allows owners to carry items up to 9 feet in length inside the car. Trunk capacity is an impressive 21 cubic feet.
The V6 provides adequate power for easy city driving, but buyers will wish for extra midrange torque for passing at highway speeds and climbing grades. Power delivery is less refined than in most competitors. Of the two transmissions, our preference is the CVT, which is smoother and does a better job of keeping the engine in its power band. Thanks to its Volvo-engineered chassis, the 2006 Mercury Montego offers a pleasant balance between smooth ride quality and responsive handling.