Vehicle Overview
Mercury's midsize front-wheel-drive Sable enters the 2005 model year with a simplified lineup and two new body colors. A leather and wood steering wheel is now standard on LS models. A new LS Premium Package includes leather seating surfaces, automatic climate control and automatic headlights.

The Sable and its Ford Taurus cousin were last restyled for 2000. Ford's version is by far the stronger seller. The Sable is likely near the end of its lifecycle, but Mercury has introduced a new Montego sedan for 2005 and will offer a new Milan sedan in 2006.

Even though it is closely related to the Taurus, the Sable exhibits a more conservative and traditional appearance. It has a chrome-plated vertical-bar grille. With a 108.5-inch wheelbase and an overall length just below 200 inches, the Sable is one of the longest midsize sedans on the U.S. market.

The Sable rides on 16-inch all-season tires, and the LS versions have six-spoke aluminum wheels. Fog lamps and bodyside moldings with bright inserts are standard on LS models.

Either five or six occupants can fit inside the Sable sedan. Five-passenger sedans have a floor-mounted gearshift and a front center console. Six-passenger models have a flip-fold center seat that can be configured for a front center armrest with cup and coin holders and cassette storage.

Standard GS equipment includes a cassette player, air conditioning, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, remote keyless entry, and power windows, locks and mirrors. A six-speaker Mach audio system with a six-CD changer is optional. The Sable's trunk volume is 16 cubic feet, and the 60/40-split rear seatback folds for additional cargo space. A Platinum Edition package is available on the LS.

Under the Hood
Buyers can choose between two 3.0-liter V-6s. The overhead valve V-6 in the GS produces 153 horsepower. A more powerful dual-overhead-cam V-6 in the LS delivers 201 hp. Both engines team with a four-speed-automatic transmission that incorporates adaptive shift control programming. Mercury also offers a flexible-fuel version of the overhead-valve V-6 that is rated at 155 hp.

The front airbags deploy at one of two inflation levels based on crash severity and whether the seat belts are buckled. Side-impact airbags for front occupants are optional. Antilock brakes are standard on the LS and optional on the GS. Front seat belt pretensioners and retractors remove slack during a crash.

Driving Impressions
A Sable sedan might not generate much driving excitement, but it's easy to drive and 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 generally comfortable ride � and you get all this in a reasonably refined package.

The Sable has a very quiet engine and is stable on the highway. Acceleration is smooth and refined. The automatic transmission is effective, downshifting promptly for passing or merging. Ride comfort is pleasing most of the time, but this car can hit some bumps and holes rather hard. Over-the-shoulder visibility isn't the best, and the mirrors could be larger.