As ever, Mercurys of the early 1990s generally evolved like counterpart Fords. Thus, the subcompact Tracer aped Escort with a full redesign for 1991, while 1992 brought a Grand Marquis revamped like Crown Victoria and a Sable reworked a la Taurus.
But Mercury didn't follow Ford in every way. The '91 Tracer, for example, offered no hatchback sedans, just a five-door wagon and a four-door notchback.
The latter was a full year ahead of Escort's, though, and was the basis for a sporting model called LTS. Though it had twincam Mazda power like the Escort GT hatchback, the LTS stood apart by wearing the front "light bar" motif now used as a Mercury hallmark, though it didn't light up on this lower-cost car. Base models got this and other LTS appearance cues for 1993, when Tracer followed Escort to "one-price" marketing: base models with air conditioning and automatic transmission selling at $11,665.
Also like Escort, Tracer added a driver-side airbag for '94 and optional ABS for the LTS. The following year brought a standard passenger airbag, plus a low-cost "Trio" trim package that added a rear spoiler and alloy wheels to the base sedan. One thing Mercury couldn't seem to change was relative sales, and Tracer volume remained only a fraction of Escort's. Then again, with so many small cars to choose from, some buyers likely forgot that L-M dealers even had one.
Sable sales held generally steady, both in absolute numbers and as a proportion of Taurus', but Mercury's midsize was quicker than Ford's to offer a passenger-side airbag: first as an option with the '92 redesign, then standard.
Though Sable still had no counterpart to the high-power Taurus SHO, Mercury did offer front buckets and console as new '93 extras for the uplevel LS sedan. These became standard for the '94 version, which was joined late in the season by a sportier LTS edition with leather inside and a "more Euro" look outside. Overall Sable production remained strong in this period, running 116,000-137,000 in all years save recessionary '91, when sales dipped to just above 96,000.
The full-size Grand Marquis showed surprising sales strength with its '92 redesign, accounting for much of Mercury's increased overall volume through mid-decade. In fact, the newly aerodynamic "Big M" outpolled its Ford sister in '92 model-year production by some 10,000 units with a relatively amazing 163,000-plus. It then settled down to around 100,000 yearly sales except for 1993 (a bit over 90,000).
Grand Marquis still eschewed any pretense of sport, but its '92 makeover was the same considered update accorded Crown Victoria. Highlights included Dearborn's new 4.6-liter "modular" V-8, standard all-disc brakes, available ABS, a thoroughly reworked rear-drive chassis, and a firm-ride Handling and Performance option with dual exhausts adding 20 bhp to the regular 190.
Like Ford, Mercury now bailed out of big wagons, but the GS and uplevel LS sedans were nicely tailored to stand more clearly apart from Crown Vics. Differences included a modest grille, a conventional "four-light" roofline, and Sable-inspired taillight treatment. Considering the conservative character of both the car and its clientele, the rejuvenated Grand Marquis showed a lot of sales life in the early '90s.
For more information on Mercury models, see:
- Mercury New Car Reviews and Prices
- Mercury Used Car Reviews and Prices