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Mercury Sable is the quiet luxury car competitor. Refined, not boastful. Not powerful, but resourceful.

The 2008 Sable is the cousin to the all-new Ford Taurus. While the two vehicles are alike in build, they are outfitted differently. The Sable is equipped with upscale, distinctive touches that slightly set it apart from the Taurus.

The new Sable has two trims, the Base and Premier, and one engine offering. Mercury Sable is a front-wheel drive, large sedan powered by the 24-valve, 3.5-liter V-6 engine. Coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission the V-6 generates 263 horsepower.

My test vehicle was the Sable Premier with optional all-wheel drive. Convenience features included in this model were the dual-zone climate control, heated seats, universal garage door opener and the innovative Ford Motor Co. and Microsoft SYNC voice-activated sound system.

What's nice about the Mercury is its luxury-level ride due to a MacPherson strut front suspension with more travel and independent rear suspension. The suspension gave me a quiet ride.

Buyers have the choice of interior design treatments. They can choose between a technical appearance with high-gloss carbon fiber materials or a warm design with wood grain accents. The outside design of the Mercury Sable is very middle-of-the-road in the vast field of family sedans. Mercury calls it a clean, modern look.

The Sable comes with a long list of premium features and convenience amenities such as fog lamps, folding exterior power sideview mirrors, leather-wrapped shift knob, power windows, mirrors and door locks, plus a one touch up/down driver window and remote keyless entry.

The 2008 Sable can be optionally equipped to luxury car status with a voice-activated navigation system, communications and entertainment system, plus leather seating, heated seating, power moonroof and even 18-inch chrome-clad wheels.

The Mercury Sable gives buyers assurance of being one of the safest large cars on the roadway. Sable has been awarded the maximum five-star rating in front and side crash testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and received the "Top Safety Pick" in the large car category from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

EPA fuel economy:City: 17, Highway: 24

Base MSRP: $29,180 (as tested: $32,555)