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The Mercury Villager is a minivan that was marketed by the Mercury division of Ford. The first minivan ever sold by Mercury, two generations were sold from the 1993 to 2002 model years. Competing against the Chrysler minivans and the General Motors APV minivans, the front-wheel drive Villager was introduced between the Ford Aerostar and the Ford Windstar.

Mercury Villager
96-98 Mercury Villager -- 12-26-2009.jpg
Overview
ManufacturerMercury (Ford)
Nissan(joint venture)
Also calledNissan Quest
Production1992–2002
AssemblyUnited States: Avon Lake, Ohio (Ohio Assembly)
Body and chassis
ClassMinivan
LayoutFF layout
Chronology
SuccessorMercury Monterey

Throughout its production, the Villager was a product of a joint venture between Ford and Nissan; developed by both manufacturers, the Villager and the Nissan Quest were produced by Ford at its Ohio Assembly plant in Avon Lake, Ohio (alongside the Ford Econoline/Club Wagon).

After the 2002 model year, Mercury discontinued the Villager, replacing the model line for the 2004 model year with a revived Monterey (a Mercury counterpart of the Ford Freestar).

BackgroundEdit

EtymologyEdit

The Villager nameplate was first used by Ford Motor Company in 1958 as the Edsel Villager was introduced as the mid-range Edsel station wagon. Along with Ranger, Villager was the only nameplate produced through the entire existence of the brand.

Following the demise of Edsel, the Villager name was revived by Mercury in 1962, denoting the Comet station wagon with simulated woodgrain trim. Subsequently, the Villager trim became the Mercury counterpart of the Ford "Squire" trim denoting wood-trim station wagons. With the exception of the full-size Mercury Colony Park, the Villager nameplate was used by Mercury from 1962 to 1984 on six model ranges, including the Comet (1962–1967), Montego (1970–1976), Bobcat (1975–1980), Cougar (1977, 1982), Zephyr (1978–1981) and Lynx (1981–1984).

Following the introduction of the 1983 Marquis, the Villager nameplate was dropped from wood-trim station wagons (the 1986 Sable that replaced it was never offered with woodgrain exterior trim).

DevelopmentEdit

 
Mercury Villager (red) and Nissan Quest (blue)

At the beginning of 1988, Ford and Nissan entered a joint venture to develop an all-new minivan sold by both automakers.[1] Under the terms of the agreement, the development and engineering of the vehicles was done by Nissan (in the United States); the company also supplied the engine and transmission. Ford would manufacture the vehicles in its own facility, providing components for the vehicle.[1]

Development officially commenced later that year, codenamed VX54.[citation needed] Under Nissan, the VX54 program was to jointly replace the Van and the Axxess in North America; the Ford version became a Mercury (coinciding with the simultaneous development of the WIN88 program, later the Ford Windstar) The final designs were chosen by Nissan in 1989, with both companies commencing testing of prototypes in 1990[citation needed]; real-world testing was done through 1991, as development concluded at the end of that year.[citation needed]

While 1980s minivans traditionally replaced full-size station wagons as family-use vehicles, during the development process, designers benchmarked the mid-size Mercury Sable station wagon (instead of the full-size Mercury Colony Park) as its goal for features, ride, and handling.[1] While all-wheel drive was initially planned in the VX54 program, slow sales of Chrysler AWD minivans led to Ford dropping it from development of the Villager.[2]

First generation (1993-1998)Edit

First generation
 
Overview
Also calledNissan Quest
Yunbao YB6480 (China)
Fengshen EQ6482 (China)
Guangdong Bus Works GDK6480 (China)
Production1992–1998
1995–2001 (China)
Model years1993-1998
AssemblyUnited States: Avon Lake, Ohio (Ohio Assembly)
China: Guangzhou, China
Body and chassis
Body style3-door minivan
Powertrain
Engine3.0 L 151 hp (113 kW) VG30E V6
Dimensions
Length189.9 in (4,823 mm) (1993–95)
190.2 in (4,831 mm) (1995–98)
Width73.7 in (1,872 mm) (1993–95)
73.8 in (1,875 mm) (1995–98)
Height67.6 in (1,717 mm) (1993–95)
67.5 in (1,714 mm) (1995–98 GS Cargo)
65.9 in (1,674 mm) (1995–98 GS)
65.6 in (1,666 mm) (1995-98 Nautica & LS)
Curb weight3,815 lb (1,730 kg)

Launched in July 1992 as a 1993 model, the Mercury Villager was introduced at the 1992 Chicago Auto Show.[2] After having forgone the minivan segment since the 1986 introduction of the Aerostar, the Villager marked the first time since 1960 that the division sold a vehicle with no Ford (or Lincoln) counterpart.

Chassis specificationEdit

The first-generation Villager uses the front-wheel drive Ford VX54 platform; while using a Ford codename, the platform is an evolution of the Nissan Maxima (1989-1994 J30 chassis). The VX54 chassis has a 112.2-inch wheelbase (sized nearly identically to the short-wheelbase Chrysler minivans).

In line with the Chevrolet Lumina APV, the Villager uses a front MacPherson strut suspension and a coil-sprung rear axle (featuring coil springs at all four wheels[3]). The front brakes were vented discs with rear drums;[4] anti-lock brakes were fitted as standard equipment.[2]

PowertrainEdit

The first-generation Villager (and its Quest counterpart) was powered by a single engine through its production. Sharing its engine with the Nissan Maxima, the Villager was powered by a 3.0L Nissan VG30E V6 (detuned from 160 to 151 horsepower). A Jatco-supplied 4-speed automatic was the sole transmission offering.[4]

In the development of the VX54 model line, Ford requested several design changes from Nissan before it would use the engine. Along with making the VG30E a non-interference engine,[5] Ford requested the addition of an oil level sensor and the relocation of the oil filter assembly (for better access).

Body designEdit

At 190 inches long, the first-generation Villager nearly matches the extended-length 1991-1995 Chrysler minivans in length. In contrast to the Aerostar, the Villager was produced solely as a passenger van and in a single body length. All versions were produced with single sliding door.

In line with the Mercury Sable and Mercury Topaz sedans, the Villager was distinguished from its Nissan Quest counterpart by its front lightbar grille.[1] While the Quest was styled with a monochromatic exterior (for all trims), the Villager used multiple two-toned exterior trims (base trims used wide gray moldings, in line with the 1992 Grand Marquis). To aid aerodynamics, the exterior door handles were faired into the doors. In a minivan first, the rear liftgate was modeled after compact station wagons; the rear window opened independently from the door.[2]

For 1996, the exterior underwent a mid-cycle revision. A conventional grille (modeled after the Sable and Mystique) replaced the lightbar, with restyled taillamps (joined by a red panel), badging, and the introduction of monochromatic exterior trim (for lower trims).[6]

While the exterior and interior of the vehicle was designed primarily by Nissan, many interior components were sourced from Ford. In line with the Aerostar, the Villager was equipped with optional rear-seat radio controls and air-conditioning vents.[2] Along with folding/removable second-row seats (bench or bucket, dependent on trim), the third-row bench seat was mounted on sliding tracks, allowing the interior to be reconfigured (for passengers or cargo) without its removal. To meet passive-restraint requirements, the Villager was initially equipped with automatic seatbelts (the only American-market minivan to do so); for 1994, a driver-side airbag was added, with dual airbags becoming standard for 1996 (replacing the automatic seatbelts).[6]

TrimEdit

For 1993, the Villager was offered with GS and LS trim levels, in line with Mercury sedans. The second-row seat of the GS was a two-passenger bench seat; the LS was available with either a bench seat or two bucket seats. At its launch, the exterior of the GS was produced with wide gray door/bumper moldings (similar to the 1992 Grand Marquis), switching to monochromatic trim for the 1996 model year (with optional two-tone trim); the LS was offered with standard two-tone trim from 1993 to 1998.

Villager NauticaEdit

 
1994-1995 Mercury Villager Nautica

In 1994, Mercury introduced the Nautica special edition of the Villager.[6] In line with Eddie Bauer-edition Ford vehicles (including the Aerostar minivan), the trim denoted the namesake clothing company. Externally denoted by a blue-and-white color scheme (with a yellow pinstripe), the Nautica was fitted with multi-color leather seats (blue with white inserts); a complimentary luggage set included Nautica-designed duffel bags.[7][8] For the 1996, multiple two-tone color schemes joined the blue/white exterior.[7]

Second generation (1999-2002)Edit

Second generation
 
Overview
Also calledNissan Quest
Production1998–2002
Model years1999-2002
AssemblyUnited States: Avon Lake, Ohio (Ohio Assembly)
DesignerMoray Callum (1995)
Body and chassis
Body style4-door minivan
Powertrain
Engine3.3L VG33E V6 SOHC
TransmissionJatco RE4F04A 4-speed automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase112.2 in (2,850 mm)
Length194.7 in (1999–2000)
194.9 in (2001–02)
Width74.9 in (1,902 mm)
Height70.1 in (1,781 mm)
Curb weight3,944 lb (1,789 kg)

For the 1999 model year, Mercury introduced the second-generation Villager. Again a counterpart of the Nissan Quest, the 1999 Villager shared no sheetmetal with its predecessor. As with the larger Ford Windstar, a central change of the redesign included the addition of a second sliding door.

Chassis specificationEdit

Carried over from the previous generation, the Ford VX54 platform underpinned the second-generation Mercury Villager and Nissan Quest, sharing its 112.2-inch wheelbase.[9] Retuned for a softer ride,[10] the second-generation Villager retained its suspension configuration from the previous generation, including front MacPherson struts and a rear beam axle.[11] The front brakes were vented discs with rear drum brakes; ABS was offered as an option.[10][12]

PowertrainEdit

The second-generation Villager received a new V6 engine, again supplied by Nissan. For 1999, the 3.3L VG33E V6 replaced the previous 3.0L V6; producing 170 hp,[9] the engine was shared with Nissan light trucks and SUVs in the United States. A Jatco-supplied 4-speed automatic was the sole transmission paired with the engine.

Body designEdit

While sharing its wheelbase with its predecessor, the second-generation Villager was five inches longer than its predecessor; slightly larger than the Toyota Sienna, the Villager was approximately six inches shorter than the extended-length GM and Chrysler minivans (and the Ford Windstar). In contrast to its competitors (except the Chrysler Town & Country), the second-generation Villager/Quest was sold solely with two sliding doors, abandoning the previous single side-door configuration.

While again sharing most body stampings, the exterior of the second-generation Quest and Villager were designed separately, with Ford designer Moray Callum responsible for the exterior of the Villager. In place of the chrome-ringed horizontal grille, the Villager adopted a waterfall-style grille (with a much larger Mercury emblem); the rear fascia was given a red trim panel between the taillamps (with amber turn signals). Several design features from the first generation made a return, including the design of the exterior door handles and the two-way rear liftgate.

Carrying over the reconfigurable 3rd-row seat design from the previous generation,[10] the cargo area was revised with the addition of a removable parcel shelf.[10] For 2000, a 3-person 2nd-row seat was introduced (increasing capacity to 8) as an option.[12] As a $1,295 option, a rear-seat entertainment system was introduced, including a flip-down LCD screen connected to a VCR or video-game console.[13]

For 2001, the front and rear fascias were revised; the Mercury emblem was centered and enlarged on the grille and liftgate (the foglamps were changed to round lenses). The instrument panel was redesigned (the electronic instrument panel returned as an option).[13]

TrimEdit

Abandoning the GS/LS trim nomenclature used by the previous generation, the second-generation Villager was offered in three trim levels: Villager, Villager Sport, and Villager Estate; the special-edition Nautica trim was discontinued. Externally, the standard Villager was offered in monochomatic colors or with a silver lower body; the Sport was painted with a gray lower body and received upgraded suspension settings and larger wheels and tires. The Estate was distinguished by a gold lower body, wheels, and badging.[13]

SalesEdit

Calendar Year American sales
1999[14] 45,315
2000 30,443
2001[15] 22,046
2002[16] 16,442

Chinese productionEdit

From 1995 to 2001, the first-generation Mercury Villager was marketed by Chinese auto manufacturers through the use of CKD kits.[17][18] Guangzhou Yunbao (today part of Dongfeng Fengshen) marketed the Yunbao YB6480; traditionally using CKD vehicles from Nissan, the YB6480 retained its Mercury badging.[17] As largely the same vehicle, Dongfeng Fengshen marketed the Villager as the Fengshen EQ6482.[18] While the bodies were manufactured in the United States (for CKD purposes), the engines were manufactured in China (marketed through manufacturers in joint ventures with Nissan).[18]

Through its passenger car division, Guangdong Bus Works produced the GDK6480; with nearly all assembly completed in the United States, only a few parts were added to the vehicle in China.[19]

ReplacementEdit

 
2004-2007 Mercury Monterey

In 2000, Ford and Nissan chose to end their joint venture, as both companies had commenced design work on new generations of the Ford Windstar and the Nissan Quest. Following a shortened 2002 model year, the Ford-Nissan joint venture was concluded, with the final Mercury Villager assembled on June 27, 2002.

After skipping the 2003 model year, both Mercury and Nissan would reenter the minivan segment. A third generation of the Quest was developed and manufactured by Nissan in the United States (derived from the Maxima), while Mercury replaced the Villager with the Monterey, a counterpart of the Freestar (as Ford renamed the Windstar), intended to compete directly against the Chrysler Town & Country.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d https://www.cars.com/reviews/indystar-coms-view-1420689126103/
  2. ^ a b c d e https://www.cars.com/reviews/chicagotribune-coms-view-1420689071057/
  3. ^ [1] HowStuffWorks: How Mercury Cars Work - The Mercury Villager and Mercury Capri
  4. ^ a b "Detailed specs review of 1993 Mercury Villager GS offered since mid-year 1992 for North America U.S." www.automobile-catalog.com. Retrieved 2019-10-06.
  5. ^ "Villager and Quest Frequently Asked Questions: Villager and Quest Timing Belt". Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c "1993-98 Mercury Villager". Consumer Guide Auto. 2014-07-22. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  7. ^ a b "Adventures in Special Editions: The Mercury Villager Nautica". CLUNKERTURE. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  8. ^ "Meh Car Monday: Ugh, The Mercury Villager, Especially That Nautica One". Jalopnik. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  9. ^ a b "Detailed specs review of 1999 Mercury Villager offered since mid-year 1998 for North America U.S." www.automobile-catalog.com. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  10. ^ a b c d https://www.cars.com/reviews/chicagotribune-coms-view-1420689119439/
  11. ^ https://www.cars.com/reviews/orlando-sentinels-view-1420689134223/
  12. ^ a b "1999-02 Mercury Villager". Consumer Guide Auto. 2014-07-22. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  13. ^ a b c "2002 Mercury Villager". Autoblog.com.
  14. ^ "Ford Motor Company Sets New Full Year U.S. Sales Record". Theautochannel.com. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
  15. ^ "Ford Motor Company's December U.S. Sales Climb 8.2 Percent" (PDF). Ford Motor Company. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-04-30.
  16. ^ "Ford's F-Series Truck Caps 22nd Year in a Row as America's Best-Selling Vehicle With a December Sales Record". Theautochannel.com. 2004-11-17. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
  17. ^ a b Faulkner, Author Sam (2018-02-11). "Chinese Car Brands That Time Forgot: Guangzhou Yunbao". ChinaCarHistory. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  18. ^ a b c Feijter, Author Tycho de (2012-09-30). "Spotted in China: Dongfeng-Fengshen EQ6482". CarNewsChina.com. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  19. ^ Feijter, Author Tycho de (2018-05-07). "Crazy Car Production Days of Guangdong: Guangdong Passenger Car Factory – Gaodeng". ChinaCarHistory. Retrieved 2019-10-07.