Despite sharing most of its hardware with the Ford Explorer's, the Mercury Mountaineer was able to deviate itself as a unique brand of mid-size SUV. The Mountaineer appealed to consumers with its spacious interior, decent handling, and some semblance of off-road capability. Throughout its lifespan, the Mountaineer had developed astounding features that placed it among the upper ranks in the SUV category.
First generation: 1997 - 2001
Introduced as an uptown cousin to the then-second gen Ford Explorer, the first gen Mountaineer caught people's attention with its strong engine. This engine was Ford's 4.9-liter pushrod V8, which then used regular gas. By 1998, however, a new standard engine came with the Mountaineer, the 4.0-liter V6, which produced 210 hp. Originally, consumers could choose between a 2WD and a 4WD only, but in this model year, a dual-range 4WD system was added as a third option.
This generation of the Mountaineer offered a truck-like suspension, which gave it a bouncy ride typical during those years. With the front fascia flipped upside down, the 1998 model year had smaller headlights, a new rear hatch, and unique wheels. All these changes were made to differentiate the Mountaineer from the Explorer.
A four-speed automatic and a five-speed 55R5E automatic were the transmission options available at that time. Other changes within the first generation included the addition of automatic, rear-load leveling, and rear-park assist. A child seat tether was also offered with the 2001 Mountaineer.
Second generation: 2002 - 2010
Redesigned for the 2002 model, the second gen Mountaineer was greatly refined in terms of luxury and performance. It had a wider stance, stronger power, and an improved handling and ride. Optional power-adjustable pedals and a foldable third-row seat were also new to this generation.
Two engine options were available, a 210-hp V6 and a new 240-hp V8. These engines then came with a five-speed automatic transmission. While in terms of luxury options, a DVD rear-seat entertainment system and leather seating surfaces were added to the options list.
The 2004 Mountaineer came with stability control as an option, which considerably raised its safety quotient. A year after, this feature was made standard. It came packaged with a Roll Stability Control. In 2006, the V8 engine received a power boost of up to 292 hp and was matched with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Mountaineer's performance and fuel economy improved due to these enhancements. However, the 2010 model year marked the Mountaineer's final year, as the Mercury brand was to be phased out for 2011.