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2008 Mercury Sable

Larger and Stronger: 2008 Mercury Sable Review
by Bob Plunkett

The sleek Sable sedan, stretching long and drawn with taut lines across its bowed-roof profile, zips along pothole-splotched Jefferson Road as it treks through Michigan farmlands just west of Detroit.

2008 Mercury Sable Riding on an elongated platform from Ford via Volvo of Sweden, and employing independent suspension elements tuned to produce sporty maneuvers on big tires, the 2008 Mercury Sable glides smoothly over the turbulent pavement. Of course, we're pushing this vehicle to the limit of all physical laws just to sample its promised agility similar to that of a European touring car. We find a lot of that firepower at our disposal, thanks the beefy, new V6 engine, which ties to a six-speed electronic automatic transaxle with standard front-wheel-drive (FWD) or optional all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction.

Within the spacious boundaries of a deluxe, five-seat passenger compartment, only muted sounds from the road, engine or wind penetrate.

Strapped securely in the firm, leather-clad bucket seats with contoured bolsters supporting hips and spine, a driver faces a clean and simply designed instrument panel with black-faced analog gauges highlighting its vivid green lettering and blue needles. A leather-wrapped steering wheel stands directly ahead, and on the right, the leather-capped stalk of the automatic transmission's shifter lever thrusts up from the flat deck of a console.

Behind the driver is a broad bench with enough room for three adults to stretch their legs. The seat has two positions molded to fit like buckets and the seatback splits 60/40 in sections. With seatbacks folded down, the backseat converts into a cargo compartment.

The stylish Sable presents a bold face, high-arching silhouette with a tall beltline and taut character lines honed from the blunted prow to a stubby tail. Up front, the model's face features vertical grille bars in satin chrome tucked between huge corner headlights containing projector-beam lamps. On the tail, there are equally large light-emitting diode (LED) lamps. Insignia in satin chrome on flanks and tail reveal the familiar nameplate of a popular Mercury model from the past — Sable.

The name of Sable traces to 1986. It was replaced in 2005 by the Montego, a sedan measuring much larger than the Sable and bringing traits of a precise European touring car.

The new 2008 Sable captures its badge on a new and improved version of the Montego. Mercury claims it worked more than 500 changes into the new model. Perhaps the most important improvement concerns the powertrain — there's now a larger V6 pumping even more horsepower.

2008 Mercury Sable 3/4 viewThe fuel-efficient, dual-cam 3.5-liter V6 produces 263 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and torque of 249 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm. By comparison, Ford's Duratec 3.0-liter aluminum V6 in the 2005 Montego delivered 203 horsepower at 5,750 rpm plus torque of 207 lb-ft at 4,550 rpm. The horsepower bump represents about 30 percent more muscle. However, since the new V6 operates more efficiently, fuel economy numbers improve by a couple of miles per gallon.

EPA estimates for the new engine amount to 17 mpg for the city and 24 mpg for the highway in the Sable FWD, and 18/28 mpg for the Sable AWD.

The optional AWD device on the Sable is an electronically controlled system developed by Haldex, a Swedish pioneer in AWD mechanisms. It's always engaged and automatically splits the engine's torque between front and rear wheels to keep the tires sticking securely to pavement in wet or dry conditions. The AWD hardware maintains forward momentum and keeps the vehicle operating in a safe mode.

Consider the new Mercury Sable a premium, mid-size sedan, which has the cabin of a big car. It gives seating for up to five, plus luxury gear and an enormous trunk with a capacity greater than most large sedans.

The Sable has a long wheelbase of 112.9 inches. The body when measured from tip to tail stretches for 202.1 inches, and it's 74.5 inches wide with a bowed roof rising to 61.5 inches tall. The trunk has 21.2-cubic-feet of space, and the vehicle's doors run deep, making cabin entry easy. The seats are elevated so passengers sit about four inches higher than in most other sedans of comparable size. Mercury labels the design as 'Command Seating,' and compares the upright seat position to that of a crossover utility vehicle (CUV).

While the beltline is high, so too is the wrap of windows around the cabin, giving the driver good sight lines with virtually no blind spots. Additionally, the triangular glass in rear roof pillars diminish corner vision blockage.

Issues of personal safety in the Sable are addressed with strong structural elements, energy-absorbing crush zones front and rear and a variety of active and passive safety systems aboard. Both trim versions contain smart dual-stage, frontal air bags for front riders, along with seat-mounted side air bags up front and Ford's Safety Canopy curtain-style side air bags.

Equipment promoting active safety includes a fast rack and pinion steering mechanism, four-wheel disc brakes tied to an anti-lock brake system (ABS) and traction control system (TCS) and the option of Ford's AdvanceTrac electronic anti-skid device.

2008 Mercury Sable- InteriorSable trims comes in as a well-equipped base model and the luxurious Premier. The base issue Sable stocks air conditioning, a key fob, a fold-flat front passenger seat with power controls and an audio kit with AM-FM, a CD player and an audio input jack for MP3 players. Additionally, 17-inch aluminum wheels are added to the vehicle. The Sable Premier supplies supple two-tone leather seats highlighed by contrast stitching and a perforated pattern. For trim, choose a technical appearance package with Cyber Carbon, high-gloss material resembling carbon fiber, or wood grain accents — available in Guitar Maple and San Macassar.

Other optional gear includes dual-zone climate controls, a backseat DVD video kit, voice-activated navigation system, Sirius satellite radio service and Mercury Sync, a voice-activated communications and entertainment tool.

2008 Mercury Sable Sedan

Description: Mid-size 4-door sedan
Model options: Sable, Sable Premier
Wheelbase: 112.9 inches
Overall length: 202.1 inches
Engine size: DOHC 3.5-L V6
Transmissions/speeds: Auto/6
Rear/front drive: FWD, AWD
Steering: Power rack and pinion
Braking: Power 4-disc, ABS/TCS
Air bags: 2 (front), 2 (side), 4 (side curtain)
EPA mileage est. city/hwy: 17/24 mpg for FWD, 18/28 mpg for AWD
MSRP: Sable FWD —$ 23,540, Sable AWD — $ 25,390, Premier FWD —$ 26,975, Premier AWD —$ 28,795