Used 1997 Mercury Mystique Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1997

The addition of a Spree Package for the GS model and the inclusion of a tilt steering wheel and standard trunk light are the only changes for the 1997 Mystique.

Vehicle overview

Ford Motor Company spent six billion dollars developing the Mercury Mystique/Ford Contour "world cars," designed to be the best compacts in every market in which they were sold. The program tested FoMoCo's ability to utilize all of its worldwide resources to create a car that would streamline production, thereby slicing overhead and building bigger profits.

Who cares? The result is the Mercury Mystique, and for the average amount of a typical car purchase in the United States today, you can get one loaded up with equipment, with performance and road feel you never would have expected from a sedan made in America. Actually, the road manners of the new Mystiqueare no mystery, given that Ford of Europe did the development work on this car.

The GS and LS are both available with a 24-valve, twin-cam, 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter V6 engine that doesn't require a tune-up until the 100,000-mile mark. Also available on both models are big tires mounted on alloy wheels, and antilock brakes. Load up the LS model with air conditioning, power windows and locks, moonroof, cruise, traction control, leather seats and a CD player with premium sound and the sticker stays under $22,000, with lots of room for negotiation. The Mystique GS and LS come standard with a four-cylinder engine, and are surprisingly zippy when mated to the manual transmission.

Much has been made in the automotive press about the Mystique's rear seat, and after spending a week with one, we found ourselves wishing for more room. Acceptable only for quick trips to the grocery store, the Mystique's rear bench will squeeze most adults. The front seats in the Mystique are great, offering plenty of room and very good support; not what one would expect in an American compact.

In the last two years, the Mystique has won plenty of awards and has received great press from automotive critics. Thus, the 1997 Mystique offers very minor changes. The most notable is the newly optional Spree Package which transforms the plain-vanilla GS model into attractive sport sedan with the addition of fog lights, aluminum wheels, and a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

The Mystique looks good and handles like higher-priced German sedans. The body structure is stiff, and the ergonomically correct instrument panel features legible dials and well-placed controls. We really like the way the Contour feels, but for people who need more interior room the Dodge Stratus offers a convincing argument to shop around before buying.

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.