1989 began the Seventh Generation of the Mercury Cougar and remained in production until 1997 when it was replaced by the eighth and final generation. It was introduced on December 26th of 1988 and had been in development from the second quarter of 1984. The redesign had been a two billion dollar investment for the Mercury Cougar and the tenth-generation Ford Thunderbird.
It was built upon the Ford MN12 platform, specifically designed for the Cougar and Thunderbird, and retained the use of front-engine, rear-wheel-drive configuration. The wheelbase grew by nine inches to 113 inches although its exterior footprint was mostly unchanged. It used an independent suspension all around with a short-long arm wishbone setup in the front. Disc brakes were in the front and drums were at the rear. four-wheel antilock discs were optional, but standard on the Cougar XR7.
Power was from a 3.8-liter, overhead valve V6 engine with a cast-iron block and aluminum head. With the help of multi-point fuel injection, it developed 140 horsepower at 3,800 RPM and 215 foot-pounds at 2,400 RPM. The XR-7 came with a supercharged version of the engine which brought horsepower to 210 bhp at 4,000 RPM and 315 lb-feet of torque. A four-speed overdrive automatic was standard on the Cougar LS, a five-speed manual standard on the XR-7, with a four-speed automatic optional.
Since the sixth-generation Mercury Cougar had been successful in the sales department, the 1989 redesign had similar design cues to its predecessor and its styling was largely an evolution, building upon the previous generation's design. The controversial upswept quarter windows of the previous generation did not make it into the seventh generation design, and the wraparound taillamps and headlamps were similar to the Sable. The formal-style roofline of the Cougar was one of the main distinguishable features from its Thunderbird cousin.
Standard equipment included an AM/FM stereo radio, electronic instruments, power windows, power mirrors, tinted glass, and air conditioning. The LS version rode on 15-inch tires while the XR-7 used 16-inch performance tires. Anti-lock braking and four-wheel disc brakes were standard on the XR-7. It also came with a Traction-Lok axle, a handling suspension, analog gauges, and sport seats with power bolsters.
The base LS Coupe had a price of $15,445 and the XR-7 listed for $19,650. Its first year resulted in 92,702 sales, a rather disappointing decrease from the 119,162 examples built the prior year. 104,526 Mercury Cougars had been sold in 1987 and 135,909 in 1986.
1989 would prove to be the most popular and successful year for the seventh generation Cougar. Production continued until 1997 and Mercury tried several styling changes along the way, hoping to increase sales. By 1996, just 38,929 were sold followed by 35,267 in its final year. The eight-generation was introduced for 1999 and sales rebounded to 88,288, but its success was short-lived, as sales slumped to 44,935 the following year. 25,044 were sold in 2001 and a mere 18,321 in its final year.By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2020