Used 1996 Mercury Mystique Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1996

More rear seat room is the big story for Mystique in 1996. Gearshift effort has been improved on manual transmissions, a new Sport Appearance Package is available and five new colors are on the palette. Alloy wheels have been restyled on LS models.

Vehicle overview

Ford has gambled six billion dollars on the world car project that has produced the European-market Ford Mondeo and American-market twins, Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique. These cars have to be hugely successful to make any money, and early indications are that Ford has a winning hand here.

The Mystique, in our opinion, is the most attractive of the three cars. Unlike the overly ovalish Contour, the Mystique is more conservatively styled, with a traditional chrome grille and full-width taillights. Inside, the Mystique is German in flavor, sporting a tidy interior and firm seating for five adults, although the rear seat really is more suitable for two rather than three occupants. Also Germanic in feel is the chassis tuning and all-around performance of the 170-horsepower Duratec V6. Equipped with this engine, the Mystique has been called one of the most fun-to-drive compacts on the road. The base four cylinder motor isn't lacking in punch when equipped with the standard five-speed transmission.

Dual airbags are standard. Antilock brakes and traction control are optional. The well-equipped LS includes alloy wheels, fog lights, a power driver's seat and a cassette stereo. Add the equipment group that includes the V6 engine, power convenience items, and air conditioning, and the Mystique LS V6 is rolling off the showroom floor for around $19,000.

One year after its introduction, Mystique gets more head and legroom in the back seat as designers reconfigure the front and rear seats. New alloy wheels debut this year, and shift effort has been improved with the manual transmission. GS models can be ordered with a folding rear seat, and buyers can select from five new colors. A Sport Appearance package broadens Mystique's appeal, and a rear spoiler is optional.

Compared to its predecessor, the pathetic Topaz, the Mystique is much more expensive. But, considering that the average price of a car purchased in the United States has climbed to 20 grand, the Mystique LS is a comparative bargain, and the addition of antilock brakes and traction control don't push the sticker far over that threshold. Well-equipped, good looking, and possessed with the road manners of a European sport sedan, the Mystique delivers value.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.