Full 2008 Mercury Sable Review
What's New for 2008
Mercury resurrects the Sable nameplate for 2008 by affixing it to a much-improved Montego. A more powerful engine, a nicer and quieter cabin, a retuned suspension and a minor face-lift are the major highlights.
Mention "Mercury Sable" to a friend and chances are good you'll hear something along the lines of, "Yeah, I think I rented one of those from Hertz on my last trip to Cleveland." Suffice to say, the Sable nameplate is not one that stirs the soul or inspires irrational buying behavior.
So we're a little curious as to why Mercury revived the Sable name for 2008 after shelving it just one year ago. Perhaps Mercury's marketers had a fit of nostalgia, or perhaps it's an attempt to woo the small percentage of people who remember the good cars from the mid-'80s and early-'90s and can't remember the dogs of later vintages (Medical diagnosis: Automotive Alzheimer's). Either way, the Sable is back.
Just as Ford has taken its slow-selling Five Hundred and turned it into the Taurus, Mercury's Montego is now the Sable. Normally, this game of musical car badging would be a yawn-inducer. Although the Montego offered a large cabin and an ideal handling and ride balance, that car's success was hampered by its below-average performance and refinement. Thankfully, the Sable revival ("Tour 2008" T-shirts will be printed shortly) coincides with some important upgrades.
The best news about the 2008 Mercury Sable lies under the former Montego's skin in the form of much improved running gear and more features. In fact, Mercury says that more than 500 changes were made. A 260-horsepower V6 has replaced the uninspiring 203-hp V6, and the sluggish CVT (continuously variable transmission) previously used in some Montegos has been retired in favor of a more responsive six-speed automatic across all trims.
Other improvements for this large family sedan include a restyled front end, the adoption of stability control, a retuned suspension, a new "Ford Sync" media system (that allows hands free use of mobile phones and better integration of digital music players), improved cabin materials and more sound insulation for a quieter ride.
With its major improvement in performance, addition of key safety and luxury features and available all-wheel drive, the 2008 Mercury Sable is the best it's been a long time. Given the Sable's full-size status, you'll probably want to cross shop it against sedans like the Chrysler 300, Hyundai Azera or Toyota Avalon. Though still slightly deficient in terms of style compared to the 300 or in all-around polish versus the Avalon, the new Sable is certainly worth consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Mercury Sable is a full-size sedan that is available in either front- or all-wheel drive. Two trim levels, base and uplevel Premier, are offered. The well-equipped base Sable has 17-inch wheels, full power accessories (including a power driver seat), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, wood-grain interior trim, air-conditioning, a CD player and MP3 jack, cruise control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Move up to the Premier and you'll get 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, front seat heaters, a memory system for the driver seat/mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, an upgraded audio system with a six-disc CD changer, heated mirrors with puddle lamps, and an analog clock.
Options include a moonroof, a navigation system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, Sirius Satellite Radio and the "Ford Sync" system, which allows voice activation of cell phones and entertainment systems.
Powertrains and Performance
A 3.5-liter V6 making 260 hp and 245 pound-feet of torque paired to a six-speed automatic transmission powers all Sable trims. Buyers can choose between front- and all-wheel drive on both trim levels.
Antilock disc brakes, traction control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are standard. Stability control, power-adjustable pedals and a rear parking sensor are optional. Crash testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) returned perfect five-star ratings across the board. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) test scores are similarly impressive with a "Good" rating in both the frontal-offset and side-impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Sable features a handsome and functional cabin with solid materials quality, plenty of storage areas and eight cupholders. Legroom is plentiful in both the front and rear, and a tall seating position should please those used to SUVs and also makes for easier ingress/egress. However, that tall seating position does put taller drivers very close to the ceiling. Trunk capacity, at 21 cubic feet, is massive. The Sable' 60/40-split rear seats fold flat, as does its front passenger seat, allowing items up to 9 feet in length to be transported inside the car.
The addition of 60 horses makes the 2008 Mercury Sable a much more attractive proposition than the previous Montego. No one will ever call the new Sable quick, but it now has the gusto needed to get up highway on-ramps and pass pokey fellow motorists without breaking a significant sweat. However, its six-speed automatic is sometimes slow to downshift -- a result of being tuned for maximum fuel economy. On the highway, the ride is smooth, and those who equate silence with quality should be pleased with the Sable's low amounts of road and wind noise.