Sporty/performance car; Built in USA
  • 2-door coupe
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $2,400*


1991 Mercury Cougar XR7


1991 Mercury Cougar XR7


1992 Mercury Cougar


1992 Mercury Cougar XR7


1992 Mercury Cougar XR7 interior

Pros:
  • Acceleration (V8)
Cons:
  • Acceleration (V6)
  • Fuel economy
  • Visibility

All-in-all, Cougar is a solid choice in the coupe market, but its rear-wheel drive and gas-guzzling engines are too big a disadvantage in this hotly contested market segment.

Overview

The Mercury Cougar got a clean-sheet redesign for 1989, and saw no major changes for 1990. As before, the new Cougars differed from the mechanically similar Ford Thunderbird primarily in their formal roofline and Mercury grille. A 140-horsepower, 3.8-liter V6 and 4-speed overdrive automatic came standard in the base LS. For the premium XR7, Mercury added a supercharged and intercooled version of the overhead-valve V6, which delivers 210 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque. Both engines were paired with either a 5-speed manual or optional automatic. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes came standard on the XR7, but were optional on the LS.

Yearly Updates

1991 Cougar
The supercharged V6 engine and 5-speed transmission have both been dropped from the powertrain lineup for 1991 and replaced with Ford’s 5.0-liter High Output V8, also used in the Mustang and Lincoln Mark VIII. The engine comes standard on the performance-oriented XR7 and optional on the Cougar LS. Exterior detail changes include a revised hood, grille, headlamps, and taillamps, plus new side molding.
1992 Cougar
The 1992 XR7 hit the showrooms with new alloy wheels and a freshened interior that includes new seat and door trim. In addition, the parking brake is now activated by a floor-mounted pedal instead of a console-mounted lever. To mark the 25th anniversary of the Cougar a special LS model arrives midyear, equipped with a distinctive monochromatic color scheme, the H.O. 5.0-liter V8, BBS aluminum wheels, and special trim.
1993 Cougar
For 1993, all Cougars are listed as XR7 models. However, Mercury has purposely de-emphasized Cougar’s former performance image by dropping most of the XR7 model’s sporty equipment. The surviving model is equipped much like last year’s LS. Both the adjustable suspension and performance tires on last year’s XR7 are gone, while the antilock brakes and limited-slip axle are now optional.
1994 Cougar
Dual airbags join a new 4.6-liter V8 in the revamped 1994 Cougar. While a decontented XR7 with a 3.8-liter V6 remains the standard offering, the optional V8 is now Ford’s new all-aluminum overhead-cam V8, providing 205 horsepower when applied to the 1994 Cougar. The 4-speed automatic remains the only transmission, but gains new electronic shift controls. Also added to improve handling is an optional traction control system. Mercury has made minor appearance changes to the car’s grille, front and rear fascias, headlamps, and taillamps.
1995 Cougar
Following four model years with nearly constant changes, the Cougar enters the 1995 model year with no significant changes.
1996 Cougar
New front and rear fascias have been added, plus a new hood, necessitated by the addition of a smaller, more rounded grille and new headlamps equipped with complex reflectors. The headlamps now taper at the inside edges to blend better with the new grille. Under the hood, the Cougar’s standard 3.8-liter V6 receives significant changes, resulting in a new output of 145 horsepower. The optional V8 has also been improved. While horsepower remains constant, torque is up 15 to 280 pound-feet at 3000 rpm.
1997 Cougar
An all-new instrument panel has a new gauge cluster with graphics on a black background. In addition, a new dual cupholder, coin slots, and more storage were added to the revised center console. Finally, a new “one-touch open” switch comes with the optional moonroof. The rear-drive Cougar was discontinued this year. A new front-drive version appeared in 1999.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

The current-model Cougar started out with only V6 power, a normally aspirated model for base LS versions and a supercharged variant for the XR7. In 1991, both the supercharged V6 and the 5-speed are eliminated in favor of an H.O. 5.0-liter V8 and automatic transmission. In 1993, a stripped XR7 model is the only offering, with the 140-horsepower becoming the standard engine and the 5.0-liter V8 moving to the option list. Ford’s new 4.6-liter V8 replaced that engine as the optional powerplant in 1994. For 1996, changes to the V6 result in five extra horsepower, while tweaks to the V8 add 15 more pound-feet of torque, for a total of 280 pound-feet at 3000 rpm.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.8/232
Engine HP 140-145
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 215
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

19/27

ohv V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.0/302
Engine HP 200
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 275
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

17/24

15.5

ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.6/281
Engine HP 205
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 280
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

17/25

18.2

Supercharged ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.8/232
Engine HP 210
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 315
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
17/24
17/23

Road Test

The V6 provides adequate acceleration, but we really do prefer the optional V8. If possible, find a 1994 model with the new 4.6-liter unit. While it doesn’t get appreciably better gas mileage, it’s smoother, quieter, and feels more potent than the old 5.0-liter. Expect 0-60 times of about 8.8 seconds, which is almost two seconds faster than with the V6. The automatic seems sluggish and reluctant when asked to downshift and pass. While we endorse the optional antilock brakes, the traction control we tried did not perform well.

Handling is old-school Detroit at best: plenty of body lean and not very appealing. Even the XR7 model prefers to be driven in a straight line over challenging curves. Ride can best be described as plush, even floaty on the base model.

Interior room is good for four adults, but rear-seat leg room is not as good as the car’s size would suggest. Controls are for the most part good, but the optional electronic gauge cluster is hard to read in daylight and prone to early failure.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 Mercury Cougar XR7 4.6-liter

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 3
30%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Front - 6
60%
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
20%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 6
60%

Total: 48

Specifications

2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
113.0 200.3 72.7 52.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.1 18.0 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.1 37.5 42.5 35.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1997 Cougar 2-door coupe

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Rear Passenger Injury - 1
20%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 79
Injury 84
Theft 63

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: Automatic transmissions are notorious for shuddering or vibrating under light acceleration or when shifting between third and fourth gear. It requires that the transmission fluid (including fluid in the torque converter) be changed and that only Mercon fluid be used. (1994)
Automatic transmission
Description: The transmission may slip and the engine may flare when the transmission shifts into fourth gear, which can often be traced to a bad TR/MLP sensor. (1994-95)
Blower motor
Description: Squeaking or chirping blower motors are the result of defective brush holders. (1993-94)
Coolant leak
Description: The intake manifold on 4.6L V8 engines is prone to breakage resulting in coolant loss and possible overheating. The manufacturer is reimbursing owners who paid for fixes up to $735 and extending the warranty for others (1996-97)
Heater core
Description: Installing a restrictor in the heater inlet hose may repair heater cores leaks. (1990-97)
Oil leak
Description: The oil filter balloons and leaks because the oil-pump relief valve sticks. Higher than recommended viscosity oils cause wear to the valve bore. (1992-94)
Vehicle noise
Description: A chattering noise coming from the rear during tight turns after highway driving is caused by a lack of friction modifier or over-shimming of the clutch packs in the Traction-Lok differential. (1990-96)
Water leak
Description: Water drips onto the floor when the air conditioner is operated and may be due to over a half-dozen potential leak sources including seals, bad seams in the evaporator case, the heater core cover seal, etc. (1990-96)

Recall History

1990
Description: Battery-to-starter cables on small number of cars with 3.8-liter engine are too long and could contact engine-damper pulley.
1990-91
Description: Nuts that hold windshield-wiper motor may loosen.
1990-93
Description: Ignition switch could suffer short circuit, which can cause overheating, smoke, and possibly fire in steering-column area.
1992-93
Description: Movement of fuel lines can result in leakage.
1992-93 w/fog lights
Description: Headlights may go out for various intervals as a result of circuit-breaker opening.
1996
Description: Driver’s door, when closed only to secondary latched position, may not sustain the specified 1000-pound transverse load.
1996 w/semiautomatic temperature control
Description: Under certain conditions, blower does not operate as intended.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.