What's New for 2009
The 2009 Mercury Sable receives standard stability control across the lineup, and reverse parking sensors and satellite radio are now standard on Premier models. The new Voga Package adds 18-inch wheels, unique interior and exterior color schemes, cashmere interior trim and exclusive badging.
If you're old enough to remember when "Flashdance" was cool, then you're probably familiar with the original '80s-vintage Mercury Sable, whose futuristic full-width headlight bar and wrap-around greenhouse set it apart from the faceless crowd of midsize sedans and wagons. Essentially a Ford Taurus by another name, the Sable's striking styling and relatively advanced features won it legions of loyal customers.
Ah, how times have changed -- the 2009 Mercury Sable isn't even a "real" Sable, but rather a renamed Mercury Montego, a twin of the old Ford Five Hundred that officially met its maker a couple years ago. And unlike those avant-garde Sables of yore, the current Sable plays it safe with middle-of-the-road styling. On the bright side, though, the availability of Microsoft's Sync system puts the Sable on the technological cutting edge for this segment, and there's plenty to like about it from a family-minded buyer's point of view.
The first priority on many families' lists is safety, and it doesn't get much better than the Sable in this regard -- the government has given this Mercury perfect five-star ratings across the board. Another Sable virtue is its ample passenger and cargo space, both of which put midsize family sedans to shame. There's available all-wheel drive for those who need it, and the Sable rides smoothly for a car at this price point. Even the gas mileage is good: At 28 mpg highway, the V6-powered front-wheel-drive Sable comes close to matching the fuel economy of many midsize vehicles despite its full-size status.
However, there are reasons why the Sable isn't on the tip of our tongues when we speak of segment-leading full-size sedans. The steering wheel doesn't telescope, which makes the car not very hospitable for taller folks. The brake pedal's action is long and soft, inspiring little confidence during hard stops. Nor is the car particularly enjoyable to drive, a result of its unsporting high seating position, pronounced body roll on twisty roads and coarse-sounding V6.
Particularly given the availability of the segment-exclusive Sync system, which allows for seamless voice-activated operation of iPods and cellular phones, the 2009 Mercury Sable has enough going for it to be considered a contender in the full-size sedan category. This is especially true if the Sable's strengths in safety and interior room are priorities for you. However, it would be wise to check out a few other large sedans before deciding, including the Chrysler 300, Hyundai Azera, Pontiac G8 and Toyota Avalon.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Mercury Sable is a full-size sedan available with either front-wheel drive or AWD. The two trim levels are base and Premier. The well-equipped base Sable has 17-inch wheels, full power accessories, power seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, wood grain interior trim, air-conditioning, a CD player with an auxiliary input jack, cruise control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Move up to the Premier and you'll get 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery, front seat heaters, memory settings for the driver seat and 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 Sync multimedia integration system. The Voga Package adds 18-inch chrome wheels, chrome accents, unique interior and exterior colors, cashmere interior trim and exclusive badging.
Powertrains and Performance
The Sable is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that cranks out 263 horsepower and 249 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is mandatory, but buyers can choose between front-wheel drive and AWD. Fuel economy is rated at a laudable 18 mpg city/28 highway and 22 combined for front-wheel-drive models, while AWD taxes the Sable to the tune of 17 mpg city/24 highway and 19 combined.
Antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are standard on every 2009 Mercury Sable. There is also a standard "SOS Post-Crash Alert System" that unlocks the doors and activates the horn and emergency flashers in the event that the airbags are deployed.
Crash testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration returned perfect five-star ratings by every measure, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety similarly awarded the Sable its top "Good" rating in every test.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside the 2009 Mercury Sable, the news is generally positive, though cars such as the Avalon and Azera feature more visual interest in their dash layouts. Most controls are logically arrayed, and there are plenty of storage areas and an impressive eight cupholders. Legroom is plentiful front and back, and the Sable's characteristic elevated seating position is evocative of crossover SUVs. The 21-cubic-foot trunk is gargantuan, and the Sable's 60/40-split rear bench and front passenger seats fold flat, allowing items up to 9 feet in length to be transported inside the car.
Though the Sable's 3.5-liter V6 sounds strained at higher engine speeds, it gets the job done, pulling the Sable around with adequate gusto. The six-speed automatic, though, is too slow to downshift. On back roads, the Sable is hardly a willing companion, due to its substantial body roll and spongy brake pedal. Nonetheless, the ride is fairly comfortable, and road noise on the highway is muted compared to that of some other midsize and full-size sedans.