Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), also known as "sticker" price, is a recommended selling price that automakers give a new car that is above the invoice price paid by the dealer. It is a price that does not include any options that can be added to a particular car style. When shown as a range, the prices are starting MSRPs, without options, for multiple styles for that model.
This price range reflects for-sale prices on Cars.com for this particular make, model and year.
Best Bets get above-average mpg, class-average or better reliability, class-average or better crash-test ratings, and our recommendation.
These city and highway gas mileage estimates are for the model's standard trim configurations. Where there are optional features, packages or equipment that result in higher gas mileage, those fuel-economy estimates are not included here.
Expert Reviews 1 of 2
By Bob Golfen
March 22, 1997
Better-looking, better-driving, a better all-around car, the Mercury Tracer comes to us for '97 as a bona fide addition to the "much-improved" category. Along with its sister ship, the highly popular Ford Escort, the Tracer shows how much can be
done with just a little, and at a bargain-basement price. The bottom line is especially attractive considering its slightly upgraded Mercury designation, which includes not only better features and trim, but the customer service of a Lincoln-Mercury
dealership. For people on a budget, this is a way to get into a well-equipped, driveable little car that's economical and a cut above the econobox genre. Tight and rattle-free, the Tracer feels more substantial than it really is, the roar of the
little four-cylinder engine providing the major clue that this is really basic transportation. The Tracer offers a reasonably roomy interior that will seat a family of four in relative comfort while delivering good gas mileage. Some extra body length
over last year means improved legroom, though still a bit cramped for tall drivers, and a roomy trunk. The upscale LS sedan we tested came equipped with an impressive range of features, including the "Trio" sport-appearance package and a full cargo
of power and convenience extras, all for under $14,500. The Trio designation, which includes a sporty-looking fender insignia, was somewhat inscrutable. You need three to make a trio, right? Well, three of what? Why not quartet, since it seats four
and is powered by a four-cylinder engine? Maybe I'm missing something. The engine, a Mazda design, has also been improved, with power boosted 25 percent over its 1.9-liter predecessor, because of split-fuel induction. It's still no drag racer, with
just 110 horses, though it does have decent acceleration in the lower gears, and its highway cruising is smooth and unobtrusive. Still, among domestic economy cars, the Dodge Neon has a base 132-horsepower engine, and Chevrolet's mainstay Cavalier
has 120. A 150-horsepower engine is an option available in either car. Tracer and Escort buyers will have a 130-horse four-banger available for '98. Our test Tracer was equipped with a five-speed stick shift, really the best way to go when dealing
with an economy-oriented four-banger. Shifting was smooth and precise, though there was one unpleasant flaw: A shifter that vibrated nastily with engine speed, making the right hand feel tingly after a few minutes in city traffic. But other than the
buzzy hand, the Tracer is a fun-to-drive critter that darts in and out of traffic with aplomb, and tackles freeway driving with a healthy margin of self-assurance. The road-noise level is a bit high, but that's a common trait in this class of vehicles.
Handling is good, improved over last year with a stiffer chassis and firmer suspension. For the economy-minded, the Tracer could be a good vehicle for long-distance cruising, delivering decent comfort and e
xcellent gas mileage. The Tracer also is a car you won't be embarrassed to be seen in. The car is stylishly rounded with some character creases in the hood and bright prismatic headlights, the kind of thing usually reserved for higher-priced
transport. The overall look is definitely Ford, though somewhat small-car generic. A station-wagon version, as well as the four-door sedan, brings even more flexibility to the equation. The interior is suitably upgraded from the econobox run,
the swooping dashboard reminiscent of the jazzy setup on the Taurus/Sable midsize twins. The seats are supportive and finished in a good-looking fabric. Our Tracer came with all the bells, whistles and stereo upgrades, and included such favorable
features as power windows, locks, mirrors and remote locking, all for well under $15,000. Once behind the wheel of the Tracer, it's easy to forgetit's entry-level role and think of it more as a baby version of an upmarket Mercury. Relativ e to what
else is out there, it succeeds pretty well. 1997 Mercury Tracer Vehicle type: Four-passenger, four-door sedan, front-wheel-drive. Base price: $11,950. Price as tested: $14,475. Engine: 2-liter opposed four, 110 horsepower at 5,000
rpm, 125 pound-feet of torque at 3,750 rpm. Transmission: Five-speed stick shift. Curb weight: 2,457 pounds. Length: 174.7 inches. Wheelbase: 98.4 inches. Safety features: Dual air bags, anti-lock brakes. EPA fuel economy: 28 mpg city,
37 mpg highway. Highs: Low price. Nice styling. High level of trim, features. Lows: Needs engine upgrade. Shifter vibration. Too much road noise.