Complete Mercury Cougar lineup, specs, economy, dimensions

1999 Mercury Cougar VIII - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions1998 - 2002 Mercury Cougar CoupeCougar VIII5 Trims 126 to 199 Hp 1989 Mercury Cougar VII (XR7) - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions1989 - 1997 Mercury Cougar CoupeCougar VII (XR7)1 Trim 220 Hp 1977 Mercury Cougar IV (XR7) - Technical Specs, Fuel economy, Dimensions1977 - 1979 Mercury Cougar CoupeCougar IV (XR7)4 Trims 134 to 173 Hp

The Mercury Cougar is a nameplate used in numerous cars by Mercury, a division of Ford Motor Company, from 1967 to 1997 and then from 1999 to 2002. The Cougar is the most popular nameplate created under the Mercury brand, selling 2,972,784 units, second only to the Grand Marquis in the Mercury model range, which was manufactured for 36 years. When Mercury marketed its dealerships as "The Sign of the Cat" with large cats perched atop Lincoln-Mercury dealer signs throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the Cougar was inextricably linked to the marketing of the Mercury division. Other cat-related nameplates, such as the Bobcat and Lynx, were chosen by the department in line with the Cougar.

History of the Mercury Cougar

First Generation Mercury Cougar (1967–1970)

On September 30, 1966, Lincoln-Mercury introduced the Mercury Cougar. The Cougar would contribute close to 40% of the Lincoln-Mercury division's 1967 sales, surpassing initial sales forecasts. The Cougar was initially only offered as a two-door hardtop, unlike the Mustang. The base price of the Cougar was $2,854 ($26,097 in 2022), which was $284 more expensive than the comparable Ford Mustang; a fully-optioned Cougar XR-7 cost $4,500 ($41,149 in 2022), which is approximately the same as the starting price of the Ford Thunderbird.


The 1967 Cougar acquired its own body style from scratch after being initially created as a rebadged variant of the Mustang, while they kept the famous "long-hood, short-deck" dimensions of the Mustang. The model series's characteristics and styling were advertised as "European." To comply with federal safety regulations, the Cougar changed for 1968, adding side marker lights and the front outer shoulder belts (sash belt, shoulder harness).


Along with the Mustang, the Cougar had a mid-cycle update for the 1969 model year. The roofline's form remained unchanged, but Mercury eliminated the vent windows. The straight-lined body sides moved to Coke bottle styling, marked by a broad body groove flowing downward from the hood lines to the rear wheels. The split "electric shaver" grille featuring vertically slatted trim made a comeback on the 1970 Cougar's front fascia. Additionally, a redesigned hood with a prominent body-color center part was adopted.


  • Cougar GT (1967–1968)
  • Cougar Eliminator (1969–1970)
  • Special Editions - Cougar Sports Special package


  • 289 cu in (4.7 L) Windsor V8
  • 302 cu in (4.9 L) Windsor V8
  • 351 cu in (5.8 L) Windsor V8
  • 351 cu in (5.8 L) Cleveland V8
  • 390 cu in (6.4 L) FE V8
  • 428 cu in (7.0 L) FE V8
  • 427 cu in (7.0 L) FE V8

Second Generation Mercury Cougar (1971–1973)

The second-generation Mercury Cougar was made available in 1971 by Lincoln-Mercury. Ford compared the Cougar's layout against the four GM A-body coupes to increase the model line's future rivals, putting it up against the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. Again keeping most of its body design with the Ford Mustang, the Cougar began to veer away from a "plush pony car," taking on features of both fast and luxury cars. The final Cougar to be based on the Ford Mustang and to be made available as a convertible is the second generation Cougar. The "last" convertible made by Ford Motor Company was a light blue/white 1973 Cougar XR-7 convertible. At the time, American automakers stopped making convertibles in the 1970s in preparation for tighter rollover safety regulations.


The Cougar was available in regular and XR-7 trim for 1971. Mercury dropped the Cougar Eliminator, a race-focused vehicle, while its Boss Mustang equivalent was canceled. The GT option package, which includes enhanced suspension, tires, and engine cooling parts, stayed an option even though it was less prominent as the model line moved away from the extreme performance. Mercury dropped the GT option for 1973. The XR-7 had its exterior and interior features, differentiated by a vinyl top (for hardtops), although both trims retained the same powertrain options. In addition to standardizing numerous options, the XR-7 also got its door panels and dashboard.


  • 351 cu in (5.8 L) Windsor V8
  • 351 cu in (5.8 L) Cleveland V8
  • 429 cu in (7.0 L) Super Cobra Jet V8

Third Generation Mercury Cougar (1974–1976)

The third-generation Mercury Cougar, which Lincoln-Mercury unveiled in 1974, brought the model line both styling and marketing revisions. The Cougar got bigger and bigger and shared a body with the Mercury Montego and the later-introduced Ford (Gran Torino) Elite, making it one of the few American model lines to avoid shrinking during the mid-1970s. When the Cougar broke apart from the Mustang (which was renamed the subcompact Mustang II in 1974), it positioned itself in the market next to the bigger Ford Thunderbird. All third-generation Cougars were marketed under a single XR-7 trim level since the GT and Eliminator versions were discontinued as part of a model consolidation. Originally in danger of being scrapped (because of the second generation's poor sales compared to its rivals), Lincoln-Mercury instead repositioned the Cougar as a halo vehicle for the Mercury brand. The Cougar expanded in size to continue to compete with the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and Buick Regal, seeking out new competition from the introduction of the AMC Matador Coupe and the Chrysler Cordoba. Division management wanted to avoid duplication with the famous Capri (sold in 1971). The market accepted the makeover favorably; while sales of the third generation were up over those of its predecessor from 1971 to 1973, they were still down from those of the first generation.


  • 351 cu in (5.8 L) 351 Cleveland V8
  • 351 cu in (5.8 L) Q-code/351CJ V8
  • 351 cu in (5.8 L) 351M V8
  • 400 cu in (6.6 L) 400 V8
  • 460 cu in (7.5 L) 385/Lima V8

Fourth Generation Mercury Cougar (1977–1979)

Two variations of the fourth-generation Mercury Cougar for the 1977 model year. The Mercury equivalent of the Ford LTD II (replacing the Torino/Gran Torino), the basic Cougar replaced the Mercury Montego and introduced the first Cougar sedans and station wagons. It was positioned between both the Mercury Monarch and Mercury Marquis. These Cougars were more successful than any since their 1967 introduction due to the expanded variety of body types and market sectors, selling nearly half as many units. The Cougar XR-7 came back as a high-end personal coupe, competing with the Ford Thunderbird. This partnership persisted through 1997. The "cat's head" logo debuted, serving as a design element for the model range until 2002. The fourth generation, which underwent a significant exterior change for the 1974–1976 generation, was promoted in opposition to the entry of smaller competitors. However, this generation would be the most profitable on the market, with the XR-7 staying the most well-liked model.


For 1977, three trim levels were available for the Cougar: base, Brougbham, and Villabger (wood-paneled) for wagons. With the Brougham making a comeback as an option package for 1978, the Cougar was reduced to a single trim level. The Cougar XR-7 carried over from the previous generation and remained to be a personal luxury coupe. The Ford Thunderbird had switched from the Mark IV to the Torino chassis in 1977, and the Mercury XR-7 became the Mark IV's direct equal as the flagship model of the Cougar series (replacing the Elite). Mercury first offered the Cougar for 1977 in three trim levels: base, Brougham, and Villager (wood-paneled) for wagons. The Brougham returned as an option package in 1978, when the Cougar was reduced to a single trim level.


  • 302 cu in (4.9 L) V8
  • 351 cu in (5.8 L) V8
  • 400 cu in (6.6 L) V8

Fifth Generation Mercury Cougar (1980–1982)

Mercury shrank the Cougar XR-7 for the 1980 model year. The XR-7 joined the mid-size category with its Thunderbird counterpart for the first time, losing 15 inches in length, 4 inches in width, and roughly 900 pounds in curb weight. The standard Cougar, which shared a body with the new Ford Granada for 1981, replaced the Monarch in the Mercury model line in a move reminiscent of 1977.


  • 255 cu in (4.2 L) Windsor V8
  • 302 cu in (4.9 L) Windsor V8
  • 140 cu in (2.3 L) Lima I4
  • 232 cu in (3.8 L) Essex V6
  • 200 cu in (3.3 L) Thriftpower Six I6

Sixth Generation Mercury Cougar (1983–1988)

Mercury released the sixth-generation Cougar for the 1983 model year. The Cougar XR-7 was replaced by the new model range, which was drawn from the Fox-platform underpinnings of the prior generation even though the Cougar had returned to its early 1970s function as a "luxury sports coupe." The Cougar, which would be abandoned during its production, was positioned underneath the two-door Grand Marquis two-doors and above the Capri inside Mercury. The 1983 Cougar makeover was a component of a comprehensive overhaul of the Ford and Mercury model lines. Mercury's mid-size sedan lineup had a modest model redesign in 1983 when the full-size Grand Marquis became a separate model line, and the prior Cougar sedan/wagon took on the Marquis brand. The sixth-generation Cougar (and the Thunderbird) represented the first significant use of aerodynamically complex engineering for an American vehicle and a change in the model category; the Cougar/Thunderbird was the initial Ford vehicle built utilizing computer-aided design (CAD). The 1983 Cougar was significantly more aerodynamic than the 1982 Cougar XR7, lowering its drag coefficient from 0.50 to 0.40 despite having a notchback roofline. With further aerodynamic enhancements, the sixth-generation Cougar got a mid-cycle upgrade in 1987, bringing its drag coefficient down to 0.36.


The Cougar GS serves as the base grade, the Cougar LS as the luxury trim, and the Cougar XR7 as the high-performance variant. The sixth-generation Cougar carried over the trim nomenclature of its predecessor in a slightly different form. The GS trim was reserved for internal usage and was never used in advertising. With both V6 and V8 engines offered, the Cougar LS became the standard trim option for 1987 to reposition the vehicle upmarket. The XR7 made a comeback in 1984 after a year-long absence. The XR7 was equipped with a performance-oriented suspension, a turbocharged 2.3 L engine identical to the Turbo Coupe or Mustang SVO, blacked-out window trim, and full analog instruments to serve as the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe's rival. The turbocharged inline-4 was replaced in 1987, along with the standard 4-speed automatic, by the 4.9 L (302 cu in) "Windsor 5.0" V8 to better separate the Cougar XR7 from the Thunderbird Turbo Coupe.

20th Anniversary

Mercury created the 20th Anniversary Cougar for the 1987 model year as a special edition.


  • 2.3L (140 cu in) Lima turbo I4
  • 3.8L (232 cu in) Essex V6
  • 4.9L (302 cu in) Windsor 5.0 V8

Seventh Generation Mercury Cougar (1989–1997)

The seventh-generation Mercury Cougar was unveiled on December 26th, 1988, for the 1989 model year. The $2 billion revamp of the two cars, which began in the second quarter of 1984 as a counterpoint to the tenth-generation Ford Thunderbird, was designed to produce handling comparable to far more costly coupes while staying in the same price range. The quartet of GM G-body coupes was substituted by front-wheel drive cars during the construction of the 1989 Cougar, which resulted in a substantial change in the coupe form factor. Japanese-made luxury vehicles first appeared with Honda's release of the Acura Legend. The Cougar was primarily promoted as the Mercury division's premier coupe when it debuted in 1989. The Cougar was the only two-door vehicle Mercury produced after it changed its model lineup in the 1990s. The Mercury Cougar and Ford Thunderbird were withdrawn after the 1997 model year, with the last one being made on September 4, 1997, as consumer demand started shifting away from large two-door coupes.


  • 3.8L Essex V6 (1989–1997)
  • 4.9L (302 cu in) Windsor 5.0 V8 (1991–93)
  • 4.6L Modular V8 (1994–97)

Eighth Generation Mercury Cougar (1999–2002)

Ford engineers finished designing the third version of the Ford Probe by the middle of the 1990s. Intended for a 1998 model year launch, the redesigned Probe transferred its design from the Mazda MX-6 to a base shared with the Ford Contour. At the end of the 1997 model year, Ford announced a significant downsizing of its coupe choices. Ford eliminated the Thunderbird and Probe, with Lincoln-Mercury losing the Cougar and Lincoln Mark VIII. Ford kept making the contour-based Ford Probe under the Mercury Cougar name after moving the car to the Lincoln-Mercury Division to make room for the upgraded 1999 Ford Mustang and brand-new Ford Escort ZX2. Mercury debuted the eighth-generation Mercury Cougar for the 1999 model year at the 1998 Los Angeles Auto Show after ignoring the 1998 model year. The first front-wheel drive Cougar introduced the first Mercury sport hatchback coupe since the 1986 Mercury Capri, switching target markets from two-door personal luxury coupe to three-door sport compact. It was designed to replace the Ford Probe. The eighth-generation Mercury Cougar was the first Mercury vehicle sold without needing a direct Ford model counterpart in North America since the 1991–1994 Mercury Capri. However, it was marketed in Europe and Australia under the Ford brand. Ford announced a second reorganization of its model lineup in 2002, with the Cougar, Mercury Villager, Lincoln Continental, and Ford Escort seeing their final year of production. The Cougar outlasted the Ford Contour/Mercury Mystique (Ford Mondeo MkII) by two model years when production of the former model ceased in 2000. The Ford Mondeo platform was eliminated from usage in North America as part of the model line modification until it was consolidated with the 2013 Ford Fusion, leaving the Mercury Cougar without a donor platform. After the production of the Mercury Cougar ended on August 9, 2002, the Mercury model line did not offer any vehicles with four-cylinder engines until the Mercury Milan in 2006.

Trims: Special Edition, C2, Zn, XR and 35th AnniversaryRoush Edition. The Cougar received redesigned headlights, front and rear fascias, and improved interior trim for the 2001 model year.


  • 2.0L Zetec I4 (gasoline)
  • 2.5L Duratec V6 (gasoline)


In 2002, Mercury retailed the Mercury Cougar with a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of $16,520 for the base model.

  • Base Coupe - $16,520 ($27,206 in 2022)
  • V6 Coupe - $17,020 ($28,030 in 2022)
  • V6 S Coupe - $17,520 ($28,853 in 2022)

Features of the Mercury Cougar

The new Cougar looked good, with crisp stylistic cues and a rounded form. The Cougar had projector headlamps, two cat-eye headlamps, a tiny grille, and a smaller air inlet up front. The sleek coupe's blistered taillights gave a lot of flare to the back. The inside of the original front-wheel-drive Cougar was elegant and functional, with cloth-covered seats that provided excellent comfort and strong lateral support despite being a little hard. Adjustable lumbar support was available in the driver's seat. The center console and dashboard of the Cougar had a straightforward, contemporary design that contributed to the cozy interior. The new Cougar was equipped with high-quality audio that included a detachable front panel to make it less appealing to thieves. The Mercury Cougar was the first vehicle in its class to use side impact airbags, which improved safety. The cabin had plenty of room, mainly for the people sitting up front. Although the legroom was constrained in the back, the headroom was better than anticipated. The Cougar had a convenient trunk, and you could simply fold the rear seats to enhance the trunk's space.

Release Date

Mercury released the Mercury Cougar from 1967 to 1997 and between 1999 and 2002.