The front-wheel-drive Villager minivan was redesigned for 1999 and gains a handful of new features for 2000, including an optional rear-seat video entertainment system.
Villager is built from the same design as the Nissan Quest and is the result of a partnership between the Japanese company and Ford. Nissan performed the styling at its California design studio, did most of the engineering and supplied the 3.3-liter V-6 engine. Ford builds the Villager and Quest at its plant in Avon Lake, Ohio.
Renault, the French car company, took a controlling stake in Nissan in 1999, raising doubts that the arrangement between Ford and Nissan will continue beyond the next couple of years.
With an overall length of 195 inches, the Villager falls between regular-size minivans, such as the Dodge Caravan, and extended-length models, such as the Grand Caravan and Ford Windstar. The main styling difference between the Villager and Quest is at the front: Villager has a vertical bar grille, and the Quest has a mesh-type design.
Dual sliding rear side doors are standard on all models, and they open and close manually.
The optional video entertainment system includes a 6.4-inch liquid-crystal display screen that pops up from the center console for viewing from the middle and rear seats, a VCR mounted in the front of the center console and jacks for playing video games. The same system is offered on the Quest and Ford Windstar.
The Mercury Villager's optional entertainment system allows rear-seat passengers to watch movies or play
Standard on the top-shelf Estate model is TravelNote, a digital-voice message recorder mounted on the drivers sun visor.
All models have seats for seven, and the Sport and Estate models have two bucket seats in the middle row instead of the base models two-place bench. The middle seats are removable, and the three-place rear bench slides back and forth on tracks built into the floor.
With the middle seats removed and the rear bench fully forward, the Villager holds 136 cubic feet of cargo. An adjustable rear parcel shelf creates storage compartments for holding grocery bags and other items so they dont roll around the cargo area.
Under the Hood
Nissans 3.3-liter V-6, rated for 170 horsepower, hooks to a four-speed automatic transmission in the Villager. The same engine powers the Quest.
Antilock brakes are optional on all models. Side-impact airbags for the front seats are not available. Last year, integrated child-safety seats were available for the middle bench seat, but they are not offered this year. Nissan still offers integrated child-safety seats as an option.
Though roomier than short-body minivans such as the Dodge Caravan, the Villager and Quest dont match the passenger or cargo space of rivals such as the Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey or Ford Windstar.