Midsize SUV; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $3,800 – $8,800*

2002 Mercury Mountaineer

2002 Mercury Mountaineer

2002 Mercury Mountaineer interior

2004 Mercury Mountaineer

2004 Mercury Mountaineer

  • Cargo room
  • Passenger room
  • Fuel economy

A Mountaineer deserves a spot on your midsize SUV shopping list, due to its beyond-competent overall performance and impressive array of available features. More expressive in styling than an Explorer, with sharper handling, it’s not quite as good a value, though price differences tend to get closer as the vehicles age.


Midsize in dimensions, the Mountaineer sport utility vehicle shares its design with the Ford Explorer. Both were redesigned for 2002.

Built with a wider stance and longer wheelbase, they gained an independent rear suspension. Mountaineers featured more expressive styling, inside and out. They also had a standard third-row seat for seven-passenger capacity.

A V6 engine was standard. The optional V8 was a new overhead-cam design, in place of the previous overhead-valve V8. Both engines came only with a five-speed automatic transmission; prior V8 Mountaineers had used a four-speed automatic.

Mountaineers were available with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive without low-range gearing. (The Explorer’s 4WD system had low-range gearing for off-road use.)

Antilock four-wheel disc brakes and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel were among the standard features. Options included a rear-obstacle-warning system, power-adjustable pedals, and a driver-seat memory. Torso side airbags were not offered, but the optional curtain side airbags were designed to provide head protection in a side collision. Later in the model year, they were programmed to deploy in a rollover.

Performance and accommodations reflect those of similarly-equipped Explorers. Competitors included the Acura MDX, GMC Envoy, and Toyota Highlander.

Yearly Updates

2003 Mountaineer
Addition of standard power-adjustable pedals and an available DVD entertainment system highlighted 2003 for Mercury’s version of the Ford Explorer and new Lincoln Aviator. A three-point safety belt was now installed for the second-row center seat.
Mountaineers came in Convenience, Luxury, and Premier trim, all with three rows of seats. Ford’s Explorer could be equipped with an optional antiskid system, which was not available for the Mountaineer.
2004 Mountaineer
Second-row bucket seats became available for 2004, on Luxury and Premier models, and Ford’s AdvanceTrac antiskid system joined the options list at midseason. The third row of seats could be deleted for credit.
2005 Mountaineer
Mercury’s version of the Ford Explorer is unchanged for 2005, due to receive updates similar to the 2006 Explorer later in the calendar year.


longitudinal front-engine/rear- or all-wheel drive

Two engines have been available under Mountaineer hoods. The 4.0-liter V6 produced 210 horsepower, versus 239 hp for the 4.6-liter V8. Both engines work with a five-speed automatic transmission. Mountaineers could have either rear-drive or all-wheel drive.

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.0/245
Engine HP 210
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 254
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic


ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.6/281
Engine HP 239
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 282
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic


Road Test

Mercury’s overhead-cam V8 feels smooth, but not much more powerful than the V6. Both provide modest acceleration from a stop, but build speed quickly. Ford claimed V6 models could accelerate to 60 mph in 10.2 seconds.

In the 40-55 mph range, there’s no great difference in throttle response between the two engines. The AWD system’s 200-pound weight penalty hurts acceleration somewhat.

An extended-use 4WD V8 Explorer XLT averaged 15.1 mpg in mostly highway driving. Similar examples averaged 13.3 to 14.1 mpg with more city driving, while a 4WD V6 Explorer averaged 17.1 mpg. Mountaineers should echo those figures. Both engines run on regular-grade fuel.

With its independent rear suspension, the Mountaineer provides a reasonably soft ride. Although it’s somewhat trucky, the body-on-frame chassis feels quite solid. Relatively compliant, the suspension is devoid of sloppy motions.

A Mountaineer is slightly tougher than an Explorer, but not as smooth as a Lexus RX. The Mountaineer’s stiffer shocks make it more stable than an Explorer through dips and swells, but slightly less absorbent over rough pavement.

Steering/handling is typical truck-type midsize SUV. That means noticeable body lean in turns, and somewhat lazy reactions to steering inputs, compared to a car. Still, it’s capable and confident overall, with best-in-class steering feel and good low-speed maneuverability. Mountaineer steering/handling is sharper than an Explorer’s, thanks to different shock absorbers and tires. Stopping power is strong, though brake-pedal effort is slightly high.

Wind and road noises are unobjectionable, and low for an SUV. Engines intrude only under hard throttle, though the V8 is quieter than the V6.

Gauges are bold and clear. Most controls are illuminated and within easy reach. Materials are generally good quality, and the Mountaineer has dressier trim than an Explorer.

Expect plenty of room up front on comfortable seats. The available memory seat, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, and adjustable pedals can custom-tailor the driving position to suit many physiques. Outward visibility is good. Curiously, running boards hinder egress; they’re too narrow to provide a solid step.

Second-row occupants get generous headroom, plus more leg clearance than most in its class. Three can squeeze across, but the seat is divided into three segments and each can feel confining. The third row is fit for two children; it’s low to the floor and pancake-flat, though head room is expansive and leg space surprisingly good. Second-row seats tilt forward to ease access.

Large hatch glass opens separately and dips low into the tailgate, for easier loading. But the glass releases only via the keyfob. Cargo room is tight behind the third-row seat, which folds into the floor (though not quite flat) for additional space. The fold-down process can be awkward, and the tailgate isn’t so easy to open or close.


Model Tested: 2002 Mountaineer V6 AWD

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 - 3
Ride Quality - 3
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 8
Room/Comfort Front - 7
Room/Comfort Rear - 7
Cargo Room - 8


Value - 6

Total: 54


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
113.8 189.5 72.1 71.4
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
81.3 22.5 7
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.9 38.9 42.4 35.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


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

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Description: Hopping, binding sensation from rear axle caused by binding limited-slip clutch packs requires revised clutch packs and reformulated gear lube. (2002-04)
Engine noise
Description: Rattling noise from front of engine caused by timing chain slop requiring a redesigned primary chain tensioner. (1999-2002)
Engine noise
Description: A low-speed growl on AWD models requires replacement of the transfer case drive chain. (2002)
Fuel gauge
Description: Fuel gauge may suddenly drop to empty on vehicle with 4.0L engine due to an electrical problem with the flex fuel module. (2002)
Fuel pump
Description: Stumbling or hesitation when making aggressive right turns caused by cavitation in the fuel tank as fuel sloshes to one side requiring a redesigned fuel pump. (2002)
Oil leak
Description: Oil leak from right side axle may be caused by the seal coming loose and spinning in the housing requiring complete axle assembly replacement. (2003-04)
Description: The rear window (liftgate) glass supports may come loose and cause the window to break on some vehicles, and dealers were repositioning the brackets and tightening the screws. (2002)

Recall History

2002 vehicles equipped with the Texas Instruments speed control deactivation switch (SCDS)
Description: The SCDS may leak internally and then overheat, smoke, or burn. A vehicle fire could occur. Ford will notify owners and dealers will install a fused wiring harness for the SCDS. Dealers will also inspect the abs control connector and repair as necessary. Repairs will be completed free of charge.
2002-03 Mountaineer
Description: Liftgate glass strut may disengage or hinge may fracture, allowing glass to fall and possibly break.
2005 Mountaineer
Description: Windshield wiper motor may not be greased properly, resulting in a loss of wiper function. Dealers will inspect and grease motor, if necessary.

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.