The Mercury Mountaineer, a midsize luxury SUV, is introduced Jan. 4, 1996, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The Moutaineer, Mercury's first utility vehicle, was a near clone of the truck-based Ford Explorer and was sold from 1996 until 2010, when the Ford Motor Co. brand was discontinued.
The Mountaineer was positioned with a more upscale interior, with a price tag than ran $1,000 to $6,000 more than the Explorer.
It was marketed as a non-off-road machine and targeted consumers who enjoyed gardening, tailgating, entertaining and maybe a turn on the tennis court or ski slope. U.S. sales initially topped 40,000 a year before trailing off, starting in 2005.
In a 2001 review, Forbes called the Mountaineer's 4.6-liter V-8 engine "very potent, with a smooth shifting automatic tranny and a manual overdrive lockout for quick passing power."
"The steering feel is also impressive; driving an SUV can feel like piloting a supertanker, all numb response until suddenly you're wandering into the median as you tune the radio," the magazine said. "But Mercury has dialed the rack-and-pinion power steering unit here, and it's about as good as you could ever expect from a car this large."
Mercury added a second utility vehicle, the car-based Mariner — a version of the Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute — in late 2004 as a 2005 model.