In the years following the energy crises of the 1970s, people looked for more compact and fuel-efficient family vehicles. Thus, the minivan was born. From the lineup of mostly plain and strait-laced minivans that came out, the Mercury Villager emerged as a standout due to its innovatively stylish look and generously comfortable interior features--qualities that improved throughout its nine-year production run.
1993-1995: Introduction of a breakout minivan
The Mercury Villager was known for its unique interior and driving features. Its one-of-a-kind seating configuration involved a folding, removable middle seat and a folding rear seat that could be moved on tracks in the floor. This allowed the rear seat to slide forward to provide as much cargo space as needed. The luxury Nautica Special Edition had a sea-inspired theme with a two-toned, blue and white paint scheme, second-row, removable captain's chairs, and blue and white (sometimes gray) leather upholstery. It was a minivan that had car-like handling and standard safety features like antilock brakes and driver airbags. It also had decent fuel economy with 15-21 mpg.
1996-1998: Competitive upgrades
This period saw a series of improvements that made the Mercury Villager a serious contender in the minivan market. These enhancements included automatic climate control system, rear radio controls, rear air conditioning, an optional integrated child seat, and a remote keyless entry system. Front passenger-side air bags were also installed in all trims. The Mercury Villager also gets a fresher look with a chrome grille replacing the light bar used in earlier models.
1999-2002: The second generation
The Mercury Villager was redesigned inside and out in 1999 with minor improvements in the following years. The Nautica luxury trim was replaced by the Estate in 1999. Changes to the Mercury Villager involved a more powerful SOHC V6 engine, upgraded child safety features, and an optional video entertainment system. Its restyled exterior included larger headlights, a distinctive front grille, an optional moon roof, and a new driver-side sliding door. Safety reaches higher standards with second-generation airbags, a new 4-wheel antilock brake system, and an anti-theft alarm system. The seating configuration was adjusted to give passengers in the second and third rows more legroom. The climate control system and the suspension have also been tweaked to provide a smoother quality ride. Its last model year saw more variety with an unprecedented number of available trims for the Mercury Villager: the Value, Popular, Sport, Sport Plus, Estate, and Estate Premium trims.