I really love this car!
The '97 Mountaineer came as standard with a hearty V8 5.0 liter engine, and All Wheel Drive as a permanent feature (you can't turn it on and off). And, as gas prices climb higher and higher, and with the current trend of trying to be 'green' - it's about time to sideline this baby.
With 215,000 miles on her, this car has been just about everywhere, and has never given me any headaches. Across the country 3 times, a three year commuting distance of 120 miles every day, and has pulled a lot of stranded vehicles out of the snow!
The sound system in this car also deserves mention. I still marvel at the audio quality when I'm listening to music. I've driven many BMW's that don't come near the audio quality in the Mountaineer.
Also, the keyless entry is a must for all of you who (like me) constantly lock your keys in the car. It's also great when I'm toting a bunch of grocery bags or whatever, and I can just plug in the code instead of fishing for my keys.
Oh yeah, and automatic headlights - very handy. Besides automatically coming on when it's dark, you can select on the rearview mirror just how long you want the lights to remain on when you turn the car off (think if you live in an area that's rural, you need light to walk to your door, etc).
To sum up: The '97-'01 generation of Mountaineers is where it's at. The comfort, audio, reliability, and POWER are all selling points.
My mom picked up a 2002 Mountaineer and sold me the '97. The '02's seating is much stiffer and uncomfortable, the rearview mirror is always way too dim (it has an annoying dimming feature that I just don't get), and it's just too large for my taste.
Being an American car, it's generally cheap to fix - just doing routine maintenance will extend the driving life of this car up past the 200,000 mile mark and beyond.
The one big flaw? The SHOCKS! If you have a desire to 'feel the road', then you'll be in automotive heaven. It'd be nice to not feel like I'm going to blow a tire with every pothole...