Midsize car; Built in USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,600 – $2,800*


1996 Mercury Sable 4-door sedan


1996 Mercury Sable 4-door wagon


1996 Mercury Sable 4-door sedan


1996 Mercury Sable interior


1996 Mercury Sable interior

Pros:
  • Acceleration (LS)
  • Optional antilock brakes
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Automatic-transmission performance (GS)
  • Rear visibility

Showing significant gains in passenger accommodations and performance, the latest Sable is worth a test-drive.

Overview

Fully redesigned like its Ford Taurus sibling, Mercury’s midsize sedan and wagon featured more-rounded contours, greater interior space, plus a new V6 engine with dual-overhead camshafts. Wheelbase grew by 2.5 inches (to 108.5), and the car measured nearly 6 inches longer. Sedans may have seating for five or six. Station wagons came with similar seating choices, holding five to eight–the latter when a 2-place, rear-facing third seat is installed. GS Sables held a 145-horsepower, 3.0-liter overhead-valve V6 engine. The LS carried a 200-horsepower, dual-overhead-cam 3.0 V6. Both engines drove a 4-speed automatic. Dual airbags were standard; antilock brakes optional on all models.

Yearly Updates

1997 Sable
Only a handful of minor changes marked the 1997 models, led by newly standard front-door map pockets for the GS and LS Sables.
1998 Sable
Changes are limited to a new grille and a revised axle ratio for designed to yield better acceleration.
1999 Sable
Sable saw price cuts of $1000 to $2000 in ’99, but that had little effect on used car prices. Revisions to the suspension, instrument graphics, and interior door panels rounded out the changes. Sables were redesigned for 2000.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

All Sables use a 4-speed automatic transmission, driven by either of two engines. A 145-horsepower, overhead-valve, 3.0-liter V6 has been standard in G and GS Sables. For the more-expensive LS sedan or station wagon, the standard engine is a dual-overhead-cam 3.0-liter V6, making 200 horsepower.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 145
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 170
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

20/29

15.7

dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/181
Engine HP 200
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 200
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

20/29

18.9

Road Test

Interiors are roomier than before, and construction feels more solid. Performance also has improved, due to the new engine that’s installed in LS Sables. Quieter and smoother than the overhead-valve V6 in a Sable G or GS, that dual-cam V6 provides more-spirited acceleration and stronger passing power. Its electronically controlled transmission is smooth and responsive. Acceleration is adequate with the base engine, but its automatic vibrates when changing gears and is slower to downshift for passing.

Road and wind noise are better than in previous Sables. The firm suspension on all models feels stable at highway speeds, but a little too stiff on bumpy roads. Steering is lighter than before, but more precise, and a Sable can corner almost as well as some sports cars. All models use the same tires, and suspension differences are slight.

Front seats offer generous space. Rear leg room has grown considerably, and tall people can easily fit in the outboard positions. Although the flip-open armrest that comes with the front bench seat is useful, when it’s open you cannot plug a cellular phone or other device into the cigarette lighter. Sedans have a roomy trunk with a wide, flat floor that reaches well-forward. Visibility is generally good, but it’s difficult to see the sedan’s trunk and the wagon’s rear windows are narrow.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1996 Mercury Sable LS

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 - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 46

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
108.5 199.7 73.0 55.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
16.0 16.0 6n1
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.4 36.6 42.6 38.9
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
108.5 199.1 73.0 57.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
81.3 16.0 8
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.3 48.9 42.6 48.5
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Sable 4-door sedan

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 - 3
60%

HLDI

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

Collision 81
Injury 78
Theft 57

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: The air-conditioning lines tend to leak at the spring-lock couplings and larger O-rings are available as a service replacement. (1996-97)
Automatic transmission
Description: AX4S automatic transmissions may shift harshly from first to second gear. (1996-97)
Dashboard lights
Description: The check-engine light comes on for a variety of reasons including bad gasoline, a wobbling accessory drive pulley, or bad spark plug. (1996)
Heater core
Description: Installing a restrictor in the heater inlet hose may repair heater cores leaks. (1996-99)
Steering problems
Description: The power steering gets harder to turn when decelerating from about 50 miles per hour or when shifting from reverse to drive requiring replacement of the control module and/or transmission-range sensors. (1996)
Suspension noise
Description: Clunking from the front end may be due to premature wear of the sway-bar links. (1995-97)
Tire wear
Description: Inner edge of rear tires wear excessively from camber problems corrected with a revised rear-suspension adjuster kit. (1996-97)
Water leak
Description: Water leaks onto the front floor because of poor sealing of the cabin air-filter cowl inlet. (1996-98)

Recall History

1996
Description: Brake-fluid indicator can malfunction.
1996
Description: Small number of cars were inadvertently equipped with 18-gallon fuel tank rather than 16-gallon as specified; displacement of tank’s shipping plug could result in leakage.
1996-97 w/automatic transaxle
Description: “Park” pawl shaft was improperly positioned during assembly; could result in park pawl occasionally not engaging when selector lever is placed in “Park” position, allowing vehicle to roll if parking brake has not been applied.
1997
Description: Servo cover can separate, causing transmission fluid to leak and contact catalytic converter; could result in fire.
1997-98
Description: Headlamp-aiming instructions in owner’s manuals are not sufficiently clear.
1998-99
Description: Front seatbelt-buckle attaching stud may have been improperly heat treated, resulting in cracks.
1999
Description: Retainer clip can disengage from accelerator cable and fall into pedal-arm pivot area; engine may not fully return to idle, and insulator could interfere with cable.
1999 w/California Emissions
Description: Incorrect transmission-oil cooler line was installed, which contacts ABS module bracket and, over time, can wear and develop a leak.
1999
Description: Seatbelt retractor may have incorrectly formed pin shaft that could, in some circumstances, prevent seatbelt webbing from being extracted.
1999-01
Description: Front coil springs on certain cars sold in specified states could fracture, due to corrosion associated with road salt used in winter.

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.