Compact car; Built in USA, Mexico
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,100 – $2,200*

1996 Mercury Mystique

1995 Mercury Mystique

1995 Mercury Mystique

1995 Mercury Mystique interior

1995 Mercury Mystique interior

  • Acceleration (V6)
  • Optional antilock brakes
  • Steering/handling
  • Stereo controls
  • Engine noise (4-cylinder)
  • Rear-seat room
  • Road noise

Mystique is a highly competitive alternative to Japanese compact sedans and to the Chrysler Cirrus. Its biggest drawback is simply the lack of rear-seat room–especially in a family sedan.


Mercury’s Mystique is similar to the Ford Contour. The 4-door sedans have different front and rear styling but similar mechanical components. Mystique, which replaced the compact Topaz came in two models: base GS and plusher LS. A 125-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine was standard; 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter V6 optional. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard with either engine, and electronic 4-speed automatic optional. Dual airbags, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, and 5-mph bumpers were standard. Antilock brakes and traction control (which works at all speeds) were optional.

Yearly Updates

1996 Mystique
In a quest for more rear-seat space, the front seatbacks were redesigned, now scooped out instead of flat. That added about an inch more rear leg room. Later in the model year came a second step: Rear-seat cushions were lowered and moved farther back. Meanwhile, the 5-speed’s gearshift linkage was revised, intended to yield smoother shifts.
1997 Mystique
A new lower-priced base model joined the lineup for ’97, as prices of the GS and LS increased. A trunk light became standard, and traction control was no longer available as an option.
1998 Mystique
The ’98 Mystique got a redesigned grille, headlamps, and hood. Also new was an optional rear child-safety seat.
1999 Mystique
Recontoured rear seats and allow for 1/2-inch more leg room and a slightly softer suspension were the only changes for 1999. Mystique would not return for 2000.
2000 Mystique
Mercury dropped the Mystique a few months after the 2000 model year began. Only 4-cylinder GS and V6 LS versions remained for the short season. Final Mystiques got a manual in-trunk emergency release system.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Base engine was a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with dual-overhead cams, producing 125 horsepower. Optional: a 2.5-liter V6, also of dual-overhead-cam configuration, making 170 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. Either a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 4-speed automatic transmission might be installed.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/121
Engine HP 125
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 130
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/155
Engine HP 170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 165
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Road Test

Mystique and the similar Ford Contour are more like European sports sedans than American family cars. All models feel well-balanced and competent on twisting 2-lane roads.

Best powertrain combination is the V6 with automatic. The V6 has plenty of power and the new transmission shifts crisply and smoothly. Although automatic works just as well with the 4-cylinder, the base engine is noisier and has trouble mustering enough power to conquer hills. A 4-cylinder Mystique feels more than adequate with a 5-speed. As for economy, we averaged 23 mpg with the 4-cylinder. Road noise has been prominent on all models tested, but wind noise was low.

There’s adequate room for adults in the front seat, but the rear seat lacks leg and head room for adults over five-foot-nine inches tall. The dashboard is functional and modern, but small poorly marked stereo controls are tough to use. The trunk opening is rather small, but the cargo area is wide at the rear and has a flat floor that reaches well forward. A standard 60/40 split rear seatback folds for additional luggage space.


Model Tested: 1996 Mercury Mystique LS 2.5-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.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 6
Ride Quality - 4
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 4
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 4


Value - 5

Total: 45


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.5 183.5 69.1 54.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.9 14.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.0 36.7 42.4 34.3
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Mystique 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
Rear Passenger Injury - 4


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

Collision 84
Injury 107
Theft 56

Trouble Spots

Description: Ice in the parking-brake cables will not allow the parking brake to release or release fully. (1995-97)
Engine misfire
Description: Lack of acceleration in freezing weather (below 32 degrees F) on the 2.5-liter engine is often due to ice on the throttle plate. (1995)
Engine temperature
Description: Engine overheating on 2.5-liter engines may be due to broken plastic water pump impeller blades. (1995-2000)
Heater core
Description: Installing a restrictor in the heater inlet hose may repair heater cores leaks. (1995-2000)
Manual transmission
Description: If there is gear clash going into third on the manual transmission, the input gear shaft and shift fork need to be replaced. (1995-97)
Steering problems
Description: If the steering wheel vibrates while idling with the transmission engaged and the A/C running, the steering mass damper, AV module, and radiator must be replaced. (1995-97)
Steering problems
Description: A slipping drive belt causes a lack of power steering and the charge-warning light to glow. (1995-97)
Transaxle leak
Description: Transmission fluid may leak from the vent hole of automatic transmission. A revised vent tube is available. (1995-96)

Recall History

Description: Some passenger-side airbags may not inflate properly; also, igniter end cap can separate, releasing hot gases.
Description: Metal shield on plastic fuel-filler pipe can develop static charge during refueling; could serve as ignition source for fuel vapors.
Description: Fuel-tank filler reinforcement can leak, resulting in fire.
Description: Front-seatbelt outboard-anchor tabs may be cracked.
1995-96 w/traction control
Description: Throttle cables were damaged during assembly, leading to fraying or separation; could prevent engine from returning to idle.
1995-96 w/V6
Description: Tightening of the engine-cooling fan-motor bearings can result in increased motor torque and higher-than-normal motor current and accompanying high motor temperatures.
Description: Automatic-transmission control can be damaged if subjected to certain interior cleaning products; gear indicator can deteriorate and incorrectly indicate actual gear position.
Description: Fuel-filler pipe-vent hose may have less than intended level of ozone resistance, which could result in brittleness and cracking.
Description: Terminals at headlight switch and wiring harness can experience heat damage as a result of overheating.
1996-98 w/o ABS
Description: Pressure-reducing valve in rear brakes may be subject to corrosion, which could result in malfunction when operated in areas that use salt compounds for deicing or dust control.
Description: An open circuit in the wiring harness could lead to electrical arcing that could melt the connector housing material, increasing the potential for a fire.
Description: Text and/or graphics for headlamp-aiming instructions, provided in owner guides, are not sufficiently clear.
Description: Accelerator cable may have burr that could fray the core wire; cable could stick, bind, or cause high engine rpm.
Description: Airbag-sensor wiring insulation can become brittle and crack over time; could cause airbag-warning light to illuminate and disable airbag system.
Description: Front coil springs may fracture as a result of corrosion in high-corrosion environments.
1999 w/automatic transmission
Description: Ignition key can be rotated to “Lock” position and removed, without shift lever being in “Park” position.
Description: Improper label was installed on some cars, with incorrect instructions for activation of childproof safety locks.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


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.