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1998 Mercury Tracer Review
A step up from previous versions.
Reviewed by Automotive on
The 1998 Mercury Tracer is a compact car manufactured by Ford Motor Company and sold under its Mercury division. The car was based on the same platform as the Mazda 323, and it was launched as a replacement for the more European Mercury Lynx. The Tracer was first introduced in 1987 as a 1988 model car. It was a rebadged Ford Laser, which in turn was a restyled Mazda 323. The car received its latest major redesign last year, but retained the same platform that it was based on before.
Engines: 2.0-liter I-4
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Mercury Tracer GS, Mercury Tracer LS
The 1998 Mercury Tracer underwent very few changes after it was redesigned last year. The only notable change is the addition of newly-depowered airbags. Minor changes include a larger center console inside the car.
The 1998 Mercury Tracer has a more maturely-designed exterior than its previous generation, especially after it received a revised front-end fascia, restyled taillights and reflectors, and door handles last year. The Tracer has fewer cut-lines and gets a more polished look. The exterior of the Tracers serves more than just a cosmetic purpose- it solves the problems of vibration and body stiffness in the earlier model with its one-piece construction, use of stiffer stabilizer bars, and the addition of a cross-car beam.
1998 Mercury Tracer offer lots of headroom and legroom for adult occupants in the front seats. The rear bench does not have as much space as the front, and any occupant over 5'8"" in height would find themselves uncomfortable inside because of the lack of knee room. The instrument panel for the Tracer has always been a sore spot for the car, but the Integrated Control Panel of Mercury takes care of the problem rather well. This new panel reduces dashboard clutter by integrating climate and stereo controls into a single oval-shaped section. The ICP is rather easy to use and see for the driver, allowing operation without the driver having to take his or her eyes off the road. The 1998 Mercury Tracer offers average cargo space, and a foldable rear seatback adds more space when necessary. Overall visibility is good, although the thickness of the rear roof pillars for sedan models tend to block the over-the-shoulder view of the driver.
Performance & Handling
The 1998 Mercury Tracer is available with an overhead-cam two-liter straight-four engine that delivers 110 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque. The engine can be mated to a five-speed manual transmission that comes as a standard or an optional four-speed automatic transmission. The engine offers adequate acceleration and power with either transmission, but a manual gearbox makes the engine feel a little livelier. Acceleration is smooth and quite, a far cry from the noisy and jerky affair of the previous generation Tracer. The engine offers read power at low speeds, which is a good bonus when it is combined with an automatic transmission. The automatic transmission offers smooth and quick shifts, including fast downshifts for merging and passing traffic. The engine is quieter than the previous-generation straight-four engine, but road noise is still present. The well-tuned suspension of the 1998 Mercury Tracer absorbs bumps better than most other subcompact wagons or sedans. The car offers a predictable and competent handling and not a very sporting one. However, it steers quite naturally in turns and offers quite a stable cruising experience.
The 1998 Mercury Tracer comes with standard dual airbags and optional anti-lock brakes. There are no crash test results available for the car at the moment.
EPA Fuel Economy
- Great fuel economy
- Good value for money
- Willing engine
You Won't Like
- Poor space at the rear
- Too much road noise
A step up from previous versions.
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