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By Jim Flammang
January 24, 2003
Vehicle Overview Not much has changed for the 2003 model year with Mercurys midsize front-wheel-drive Sable sedan and wagon. A newly available Platinum Edition features perforated leather seating. All models now have standard power windows and door locks and a tilt steering wheel. The adjustable-pedal switch has moved to the instrument panel. The doors, windows and mirrors have new wind-blocking seals, and new floor-pan damping is intended to minimize road noise.
All Sable models are equipped with a V-6 engine, optional side-impact airbags and traction control. The base V-6 generates 155 horsepower, but the dual-overhead-cam version in top models makes 200 hp. Antilock brakes became a no-cost option in 2002.
Restyled for the 2000 model year with a more mainstream look, the Sable is a corporate near-twin of the Ford Taurus, which outsells Mercurys sedan.
Except for the four doors, all exterior panels were new for 2000. Even though it is closely related to Fords Taurus, the Sable exhibits a more conservative and traditional appearance that is led by its chrome-plated vertical-bar grille. With a wheelbase of 108.5 inches and an overall length just below 200 inches, the Sable is one of the longest midsize cars on the market. The Sable rides on 16-inch all-season tires.
With a wheelbase of 108.5 inches and measuring 197.8 inches long overall, the Sable wagon is one of the longer midsize versions available. It rides on 16-inch tires. A moonroof is optional for the LS Premium wagon, which also comes with seven-spoke alloy wheels that are optional on other models.
Seating for six occupants is standard in the GS and GS Plus sedans. The more costly LS Premium sedan comes with front bucket seats, which yields five-passenger capacity. Buyers can request a front bench with a folding storage console as a no-cost option.
Standard equipment includes a cassette player, air conditioning and remote keyless entry. The GS Plus adds heated mirrors, a CD player, and power-adjustable accelerator and brake pedals. In addition to its five-passenger seating, the LS Premium gets automatic air conditioning and a Mach audio system with a six-CD changer. The Sables trunk volume is 16 cubic feet, and the split rear seatback folds for additional cargo space.
In standard form, all Sable wagons are set up to accommodate eight occupants. The front and middle seats each hold three passengers, and a rear-facing third-row seat can carry two youngsters. The 60/40-split second-row seatback folds down for additional storage space. The LS Premium wagon is available with front bucket seats instead of a bench, which creates a seven-passenger capacity.
Cargo volume behind the second row of seats is 38.8 cubic feet, and that space expands to 81.3 cubic feet when the seat is folded down. Standard equipment includes remote keyless entry, cruise control, a cassette stereo, a tilt steering wheel, and power windows, locks and mirrors. The GS Plus adds heated mirrors and a CD player. Automatic air conditioning goes into the LS Premium, which can also be equipped with an optional Mach audio system that features a six-CD changer. LS Premium wagons can have leather seating surfaces as a no-charge option. Power-adjustable pedals with a 3-inch range are standard in the GS Plus and LS Premium wagons.
Under the Hood
Sable buyers have a choice of two 3.0-liter V-6 engines. The base GS sedan and wagon engine is a 155-hp version with overhead valves. A more powerful dual-overhead-cam V-6 is installed in the LS Premium sedan and wagon and produces 200 hp. Both engines mate with a four-speed-automatic transmission.
On all Sable models, the front airbags deploy at one of two inflation levels based on crash severity and whether the seatbelts are buckled. Side-impact airbags for the front occupants are optional. Antilock brakes combined with all-speed traction control are also offered as an option. Front seat belt pretensioners and retractors remove slack in crashes.
The Sable sedan might not generate much driving excitement, but it has a lot to offer. This car appeals to consumers because of its practical virtues, which include strong V-6 performance, ample load capacity and a comfortable ride and you get all this in a reasonably refined package.