Used 1997 Mercury Villager Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1997

For 1997, the Villager offers a few more luxury items to distinguish it from the Nissan Quest. Quad captain's chairs are a nice alternative to the middle-row bench, and the addition of rear radio controls and rear air conditioning should also make rear-seat passengers happy.

Vehicle overview

Mercury entered the minivan market in 1993, as part of a joint venture with Nissan. Designed in California and built at the same factory in Ohio, Mercury Villagers and Nissan Quests share plenty of sleek styling touches and on-the-road traits. Wheelbases are similar to the first-generation, short-bodied Dodge Caravan, but the Villager measures nearly a foot longer overall. Three models grace showrooms: GS and LS wagons, a glitzy Nautica edition (attractively trimmed to remind occupants of the sea, or overpriced clothing, depending on your orientation), plus a lower-cost cargo van.

Car-like characteristics were a priority when the Villager and Quest were created, and the result is impressive. Even though you're sitting taller than in a passenger car, behind a rather high steering wheel, it's easy enough to forget that this is a minivan. The driver's seat is supportive and comfortable, and there's plenty of space up front. Standard gauges are smallish but easy to read (optional digital instruments are not). You get fairly nimble handling, plus a smooth, quiet ride from the absorbent suspension. Only one powertrain is available--Nissan's 151-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 hooked to a four-speed automatic transmission--but that's a smoothie, too.

Four-wheel antilock braking is standard. Villagers offer ample space for five, and many are fitted to seat seven, in a flexible interior configuration. The far rear seat on seven-passenger models slides forward and back on a set of tracks, and center seats lift out. Be warned, though: those "removable" seats aren't lightweights. A full load of storage bins and cubbyholes augments the Villager's practical appeal.

This year, a host of changes make Villager competitive against newer entries like the Dodge Caravan and Ford Windstar. A passenger-side airbag debuts this year, in a restyled dashboard. Exterior styling is freshened as well, with a chrome grille replacing the light-bar up front. Newly optional are an integrated child seat, an automatic climate control system and remote keyless entry. Bigger cupholders manage larger drinks, and solar tinted glass is now standard. A power plug has been installed in the cargo area, and rear assist handles are replaced by coat hooks.

Villager blends comfort and convenience into one tidy package. A family of five could easily live with this minivan. For larger broods or folks who regularly tote seven passengers and cargo, we think you ought to shop the bigger Windstar or Grand Caravan.

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.