2008 Mercury Sable Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
September 9, 2008

The 2008 Mercury Sable has great interior room and trunk space, comprehensive safety gear, and large instrumentation, but falls behind the Honda Accord in driving excitement.

The family-sedan experts at TheCarConnection.com studied road tests of the 2008 Mercury Sable to put together this conclusive review. TheCarConnection.com's resident experts also drove the Mercury Sable to help you decide which reviews to trust where opinions differ, to add more impressions and details, and to provide you with the best information.

The 2008 Mercury Sable is the car formerly known as the Montego. After the 2007 model year, Ford decided to revive the old Sable nameplate. The result? A big, roomy sedan with good road manners and optional all-wheel drive, but without striking styling to truly set it apart from its Ford Taurus twin.

When Ford decided to bring back the Sable, they also took the opportunity to tweak its engine too, boosting it to 3.5 liters and 263 horsepower. Now teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission that shifts well enough, the Sable's drivetrain gives it decent, and decently quiet, power that keeps pace in normal driving. It's no enthusiast's dream, but the Sable's power and gears are tuned for ample in-town flexibility and good fuel economy of 18/28 mpg with front-drive cars, and 17/24 mpg with all-wheel-drive versions.

A fully independent suspension, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, and standard 17-inch wheels and tires contribute to the 2008 Mercury Sable's good ride and handling. With unique tuning, the Sable feels responsive without being edgy at all. The steering lacks a lot of feedback, but it's light. Braking is strong, and the Sable has a nicely controlled ride.

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The 2008 Mercury Sable's interior is a bit drab, but it's pieced together well, and there's plenty of storage space in the console and door panels. The seats are perched high, giving drivers a commanding view of the road, and the glassy cabin offers up great visibility. That, the large switchgear, and a comprehensive package of airbags, stability control, and available all-wheel drive make the Sable one of the safest cars on the road. It earns a five-star crash rating from the NHTSA and a four-star rollover rating.

The 2008 Mercury Sable comes in Base and Premier models. Unique interior trim can be specified from the Cyber Carbon look to Guitar Maple or San Macassar wood grains. Base cars get cloth seats, while Premier cars get two-tone leather. All Sables have power windows/locks/mirrors, a CD player, and a leather-wrapped shift knob. Options include a DVD navigation and entertainment system, Sirius Satellite Radio, Ford's SYNC system, stability control, 18-inch chromed wheels, a moonroof, and power-adjustable pedals.

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2008 Mercury Sable

Styling

If you want (or need) to blend into the crowd, the 2008 Mercury Sable is your vehicle.

TheCarConnection.com notes some mixed reactions to 2008 Mercury Sable’s styling cues.

When Ford revived the Sable nameplate, it performed a mild makeover on the car. While it's as close to a generic look as you'll find in the automotive world, The Auto Channel says that with the Sable, Mercury "now has a cohesive look...[it] fits neatly into the lineup with the smaller Milan sedan and the Mariner and Mountaineer SUVs," adding that the "revised front and rear styling gives it a more youthful appearance." On the other side, Edmunds reports "improvements for this large family sedan include a restyled front end." Car and Driver, generally more critical than other sources, is less impressed with this year's Mercury Sable: "aside from some modest cosmetic adjustments -- freshened front fascia, new projector-beam headlamps with integrated turn signals, redesigned LED taillamps -- the 'new' [Mercury] Sable is essentially the same as the car it replaces."

Inside, the Sable’s plain, but at least its controls are intuitive. There’s a slight effort to dress up its generic styling; Edmunds reports "the Sable features a handsome cabin." Automotive.com notes "more choice for interior schemes with Sable, beyond the basic chrome and aluminum scheme, including faux carbon fiber, guitar maple, and something called San Macassar, all complementing the two-tone interior theme." Cars.com points out changes for the 2008 Mercury Sable include "updated seat fabric and optional glossy trim pieces that resemble carbon fiber. Two-tone leather upholstery with contrasting stitching is also available."

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2008 Mercury Sable

Performance

The 2008 Mercury Sable is a better performer than before -- even better than you might think.

Auto experts at TheCarConnection.com note that the 2008 Mercury Sable offers a surprisingly competent road feel, though its sheer size and mission place it at the softer end of the family-car spectrum.

Automotive.com reports that the Mercury Sable is "powered by a new 3.5-liter, 24-valve V6 engine that makes 30 percent more power and 22 percent more torque than the 3.0-liter V6 it replaces." According to Cars.com, in the new Sable, Mercury’s engine "makes an estimated 260 horsepower"; it produces "42 lb-ft of torque," according to The Auto Channel. ConsumerGuide says the new 3.5-liter V-6 "gives stronger, more-relaxed overall performance than Montego's 3.0."

This engine is "paired with a new six-speed automatic transmission built and shared by Ford and GM," and "shifts very quickly with very little time lapse or power loss between gears," according to Automotive.com. ConsumerGuide reports that in the Sable, Mercury’s transmission "works smoothly, but shifts too much on light throttle at medium speeds and is reluctant to downshift for highway passing sprints." Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is available.

According to the EPA, mileage figures for the 2008 Mercury Sable are 18 mpg in city traffic and 28 mpg on the highway; however, "opt for the all-wheel drive, and the added drivetrain components bring mileage down to 17 city and 24 highway mpg," warns Motor Trend.

A retuned and well-developed suspension gives the Sable better road manners than many drivers expect. ConsumerGuide reports that the 2008 Mercury Sable "feels stable and well planted in fast, wide turns -- especially with AWD -- but this car's hefty size and weight allow moderate body lean in tight corners." Its good road manners are due largely to what Edmunds labels "a retuned suspension." According to The Auto Channel, "the Macpherson strut front, multilink rear suspension is the same basic design as that of the Montego, but detail improvements make a difference." The Sable’s ABS disc brakes are "powerful, with easy modulation and a very nice, powerful progression at the pedal, and not a lot of dead space at the top of the pedal's travel," according to Automotive.com.

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2008 Mercury Sable

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Mercury Sable is no limousine, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a more comfortable ride for this price.

Most reviews examined by TheCarConnection.com team of auto experts indicate that the 2008 Mercury Sable has a comfortable, well-assembled interior.

Automotive.com reports that Sable’s seats "are comfortable but not overly supportive"; ConsumerGuide notes "seats are comfortably supportive, but lanky drivers may wish for more rearward and downward seat travel." According to The Auto Channel, "the split-folding rear seat is easily wide enough for three people."

"With a 21 cubic-foot trunk, folding rear seats and a flat-folding right front seat, you can put a nine-foot-long object inside," reports Automotive.com. ConsumerGuide confirms that the "flat-floor trunk packs a lot of gear, helped by a boxy shape, large opening, and compact strut-type trunklid hinges." Edmunds notes the Sable has "plenty of storage areas and eight cupholders."

About the cabin, ConsumerGuide reports that it "makes good use of textured, soft-touch materials...they don't look luxurious but are price appropriate." Edmunds confirms the presence of "solid materials quality."

Automotive.com remarks that the "new 3.5-liter engine is extremely quiet and smooth at idle, and uses a pendulum mounting system that effectively separates its motions and vibrations from the rest of the car;" Edmunds says that "those who equate silence with quality should be pleased with the 2008 Mercury Sable's low amounts of road and wind noise."

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2008 Mercury Sable

Safety

The 2008 Mercury Sable provides tremendous occupant protection for the price.

The 2008 Mercury Sable is one of the safest vehicles reviewed at TheCarConnection.com.

Automotive.com reports that the new Mercury Sable "has been awarded a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and full five-star ratings from the federal government"; in addition, standard "safety features are complete and include front, side and curtain airbags, ABS, and traction control."

Cars.com adds that the Sable's "six standard airbags include side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags for both rows; the latter devices include Ford's Safety Canopy, which can keep them inflated for several seconds during a rollover."

ConsumerGuide reports that "higher seating [in the Mercury Sable] than in most cars combines with a low dashtop and large windows for a take-charge driving feel and fine outward vision." The Auto Channel points out that Mercury Sable perimeter lighting "adds convenience and safety at night."

Motor Trend sums it up the best: "those looking for a safe, solid and slightly more upscale version of the Ford Taurus need look no further" than the 2008 Mercury Sable.

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2008 Mercury Sable

Features

Depending on how much extra you're willing to pay, you'll find a great deal of useful add-ons for your 2008 Mercury Sable.

Experts at TheCarConnection.com note that the 2008 Mercury Sable offers many cutting-edge gadgets and other high-tech goodies.

Edmunds reports that "the well-equipped base [Mercury] Sable has 17-inch wheels, full power accessories (including a power driver seat), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, wood-grain interior trim, air-conditioning, a CD player and MP3 jack, cruise control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror."

Sable options "include a Convenience package ($475) with a universal remote control, a reverse sensing system, a cargo net, and memory adjustable pedals; a wood package," according to Automotive.com.

Cars.com notes "other truly new goodies" available for the 2008 Mercury Sable "include the SYNC voice-activated infotainment system, a benefit of Ford's alliance with Microsoft; a DVD-based voice-activated nav system; and an array of family peacekeeping options such as a rear-seat DVD player, MP3 audio capability, and audio input jacks."

Motor Trend says the Sable SYNC, "designed in part by Ford and Microsoft...is capable of integrating most cell-phones and MP3 players directly into the vehicle's stereo system via USB and Bluetooth." However, "if you'd rather not spend the $395 for Sync, you'll find a standard auxiliary input in the stock stereo."

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