What's New for 1998
A mild facelift and fewer options are the only change to Mercury's midsize sedan.
After 1996's dramatic redesign, Mercury is playing it safe with the Sable, trying to keep costs down as their top-selling car faces sharp criticism from the press and the closed checkbooks of potential buyers who are less than captivated by this vehicle's startling new shape. Softening the Sable's front end and simplifying the option procedure are the main ways that Mercury executives hope to get more customers into the showrooms.
We have been able to spend some time with the Sable and its stablemate the Ford Taurus and have found ourselves won over by this odd-looking family sedan and wagon. If you can get past the strange curves and odd snout, the Sable offers a lot of car for the money. Upon settling into the Sable's cockpit, the first thing most drivers notice is the logical placement of the controls and the great outward visibility. Unlike the previous Sable, which had an unpleasant dashboard and bad blind spots created by the C-pillars, the new model is easy to get acquainted with. Interior room in the Sable is great, offering comfortable seating for five adults and their cargo. The Sable has comfortable seats, a plethora of cupholders and ashtrays, nicely integrated armrests and optional rear-passenger air conditioning controls.
Not many people buy domestic sedans for their outstanding handling characteristics, and for the most part the Sable does not address these people's concerns. Nonetheless, the Sable is not a bad driver, offering capable acceleration and decent handling.
The Sable offers plenty of car, definitely our choice over the less-than-sophisticated Chevrolet Lumina or plain-Jane Buick Century. There are, however, a number of great choices from Europe, Japan and the United States that are threatening the Sable. People that want to buy American should definitely put this near the top of their list, but people who are turned-off by its exterior styling may find comfort in the new Honda Accord or recently redesigned Toyota Camry being sold down the road.