COOL CATS - The 1983-88 Mercury CougarCOOL CATS - The 1983-88 Mercury Cougar


General Info  »  Options  »  Colors
Revised July 11, 2016

For its third year of the aero body style, the Cougar finally received a new interior, with a more modern dashboard and thicker carpeting for better sound insulation. In order to allow for a U.S. government-approved 5 passenger rating, the front seats were 60/40 split with a "consolette" and padded armrest attached to the driver's seat (the full console was still an option, although it dropped the passenger rating to 4). The exterior was slightly tweaked toward refinement and smoothness with all Cougar models receiving flat, smoked taillights and a new Mercedes-style crosshair grille. Engine and drivetrain choices were carried over from 1984 with minimal changes.

The 1985 Cougar XR7


1985 Cougar XR7

Following the launch of the turbocharged 4-cylinder XR7 model in 1984, the big news for 1985 was an upgraded interior, one that was more properly suited to the XR7's sporty nature. An all-new analog gauge cluster was much more informational, with the tachometer and speedometer larger than the surrounding gauges (oil pressure, water temp, ammeter and fuel level). On the outside the XR7 gained a new front bumper with integrated fog lamps, as well as wide bodyside molding with new XR7 nomenclature. Retained were body colored mirrors, charcoal window trim, and the tri-band lower striping. Performance-wise the 1985 Cougar XR7 was tweaked slightly in the engine department, with manual-equipped cars gaining 10hp, now up to 155hp, while the automatic cars remained at 145hp. New 15" aluminum rims were now standard on the XR7, with Goodyear Gatorback 225/60VR15 performance tires providing relatively sticky contact patches for the nimble Cat.

1985 Cougar XR7 Dash Left: The new interior brought in much-needed ergonomics with European flair. The design was slightly canted toward the driver without any hint of claustrophobics. All controls were within relatively easy reach, especially this XR7 model's 5-speed shifter. Also note a new 2-spoke sport steering wheel, optional on the XR7.
1985 Cougar XR7 Dash Left: The standard leather-wrapped A-frame steering wheel, which was standard on the XR7.
1985 Cougar XR7 Dash Left: The new center stack featured a storage bin above the radio (not shown) if the EQ option wasn't checked. New radios and an all-new heater panel greatly modernized the dash, while the optional System Sentry was relocated to the lighter panel on console-equipped cars. A new dark butcher-block style dash panel was unique to the XR7.
1985 Cougar XR7 Dash Left: The XR7's analog gauges set the standard for Cougar—and, really, Fox-chassis—design. All gauges were in perfect view relative to the steering wheel. Note the integrated boost gauge inside the tachometer.
1985 Cougar XR7 Interior - Cloth Left: Once again a two-tone grey interior was the only choice for the XR7. The seat materials were actually the same colors as the previous year; shown here are standard cloth articulated seats with the automatic shifter.
1985 Cougar XR7 Interior - Leather Left: This XR7's leather seats were monochromatic Charcoal in color; note the 5-speed manual shifter. Lumbar control was power this year, a big upgrade from the previous year's hand squeeze bulb control.
1985 Cougar XR7 Interior - Leather Left: Rear seats in the XR7 and LS gained integrated head rests.
1985 Cougar XR7 Door Panel Left: An all new premium "high series" door panel was standard on the XR7 and LS models. Featuring a multi-part assembly, carpeted lower sections and luxury upper inserts, these door panels more fluidly enhanced the Cougar and its all new interior than previous high line panels.
1985 Cougar XR7 Door Panel Left: The new aluminum 15" wheels were a big step up in both size and performance tire capability. Identical to the same rims used on Mustangs and Capris, the now infamous "10-hole" wheels looked great and almost supplanted the notorious TRX wheel (although that was still an option). Also note the new XR7 molding in front of the wheelwell opening. The tri-band striping is also noticeable here.
1985 Cougar XR7 2.3L Turbo-4 Engine Left: The 2.3L turbo-4 engine, relatively the same as the previous year. Automatic-equipped cars got the standard 145-hp version while 5-speed cars gained 10hp, up to 155hp.


1985 Cougar LS


1985 Cougar LS

The Cougar LS model, aside from the new dash and interior treatment, received updated seating patterns and choices that were more upscale from the standard seats in the base GS model. New for 1985 was a standard consolette, a compromise between a console and padded armrests that adorned Lincolns and older Mercurys for years. However, a full console was still an option for the LS and GS.

1985 Cougar LS Dash Left: Cougar LS once again sported woodgrain dash panels. The steering wheel was now a dark charcoal in color on all models, except those with the Sand Beige interior, which received dark brown steering wheels. The standard wheel was still the A-frame design. Shown here is the new optional full digital instrument cluster featuring a bar-graph tachometer, integrated fuel computer, switchable ancillary gauges (amp, oil) and speed and service reminders.
1985 Cougar Consolette Left: The new consolette featured a padded flip-up armrest, coin holders, a storage tray area, and housed the power mirror, window and seat controls for those cars so equipped.
1985 Cougar Cassette Holders Left: One of the new consolette's more novel features was this integrated cassette holder assembly. At the push of a button, the holder would pop up to reveal a pre-inserted cassette. Unfortunately this assembly was rather flimsy and rarely worked as intended. However, it could be removed completely to leave a more usable storage area underneath.
1985 Cougar Keyless Entry Left: A popular option on the Cougar was keyless entry, which featured a numeric keypad over the driver's door handle. Once the code was entered the driver's door would unlock, and additional numbers could unlock the passenger door and trunk, as well as lock both doors.
1985 Cougar Graphic Equalizer Left: A very rare option was this one-year-only graphic equalizer for the stereo system. Ford revamped the wiring for all of its vehicles in 1986, which necessitated a different equalizer then, and no EQ was offered in 1984, leaving this model year as having its own unique graphic EQ.


1985 Cougar GS


1985 Cougar GS

The base GS model gained almost no changes on the exterior for 1985, save for the new taillights and new grille. Inside the base seating material was changed, a few new colors were introduced, and even the base model was maturing in style and offerings.

1985 Cougar GS Interior Left: The all-new dash for the Cougar was now asymmetrical, with a new center stack to accommodate much more modern controls. Side window demisters were standard. The center stack now one more standard slot than before. The GS and LS models shared woodgrain dash panels. With the consolette as standard, a new push open/close ashtray was fitted in the area where a full console would mate to the dash. This interior is shown in Regatta Blue cloth.
1985 Cougar GS Interior Left: Shown here is a GS with the optional full console and individual bucket seats in Sand Beige vinyl. Note that the steering wheel, steering column, dash top, and dash panels are trimmed in dark brown instead of the normal standard charcoal color. This was standard only in tan-colored interiors.
1985 Cougar Base Dash Left: The base instrument cluster featured a combination of styles that Ford used throughout the years. The speedometer and odometer were full digital; the fuel and temp gauges were analog; and the oil pressure and amp gauges were warning lights. Rather unusual by today's standards, this base cluster was a huge step forward from the previous clusters. There were even provisions for secondary warning lights (door ajar, low washer fluid, low beam out, etc.) if so optioned.
1985 Cougar Grille Left: The new Mercedes-style grille lent an air of sophistication with its butcher-block inserts. According to a published report, the 1985 Cougar's grille was made of die-cast zinc by New Jersey Zinc Company of Palmerton, PA and was the first grille to be made from the exotic metal in the U.S. in over a decade. It also weighed 4.75 pounds...and it shouldn't surprise anyone that Ford ordered an identical—but much lighter—ABS plastic grille shortly thereafter for later 1985 Cougars.
1985 Cougar Taillights Left: A look at the new flat-style smoked taillights on the Cougar. Nomenclature was moved from the trunklid to the reflector on the bottom of the taillights. The outer acrylic was slightly smoked for a custom touch.
1985 Cougar Taillights Left: The new taillights on a Light Sage Metallic Cougar.
1985 5.0L V8 Engine Left: The 5.0 CFI V8 was still offered as an option on both the GS and LS models, with no changes from the previous year. Power output remained the same at 130 hp.
1985 3.8L V6 Engine Left: The 3.8L V6 rated at 120 hp remained unchanged. Canadian models now received the same CFI treatment as the U.S. did in 1984.



Although sales dipped a bit in 1985, the Cougar still continued to be refined. The 1985 model was a big step over the 1983-84 Cats, in terms of quality, options and materials. At this point, Ford was considering a restyling the Cougar for 1986, before an all-new rear-drive platform (now known as the MN12 chassis) debuted in the late 1980's. However, as usually happens in the automotive industry, the program ran a bit late. Besides, the Cougar was wildly popular and selling quite well, so there was no reason Ford could not milk one more year out of the car—which is exactly what happened in 1986.




ENGINES GS: 120 hp CFI 3.8L (232 cid) V6; optional 130 hp CFI 5.0L (302 cid) V8

LS: 120 hp CFI 3.8L (232 cid) V6; optional 130 hp CFI 5.0L (302 cid) V8

XR7: MPI OHC turbocharged 2.3L (140 cid) I-4; 145 hp (automatic) / 155 hp (manual)

TRANSMISSIONS 3-speed automatic (C3) - XR7 only, standard

5-speed manual (T-5) - XR7 only, optional

3-speed automatic (C5) - all V6 models

4-speed overdrive automatic (AOD) - all V8 models

BRAKES Front: 10.0" vented disc

Rear: 9.0" drum

SPECIFICATIONS Wheelbase: 104.0"

Overall Length: 197.6"

Overall Width: 71.1"

Overall Height: 53.4"

Cargo Capacity: 14.6 cubic feet w/mini spare; 13.2 cubic feet with full spare

Fuel Capacity: 21.0 gallons (GS & LS); 18.0 gallons (XR7)

Passenger Rating: 5 (4 with full console option)

CURB WEIGHT GS: 3,084 lbs.

XR7: 3,100 lbs.

HOW TO SPOT ONE 1985 Cougars had flat taillights, new interior, new-style grille, but lack of third brake light in rear window.
RECALLS Cougar/XR7 4-140 2.3L SOHC Turbo General Recalls
1. 87M50 APR 87 Inspection and Replacement of Thick Film Ignition Modules

V6-232 3.8L Emissions Recalls
1. 89E77 AUG 89 Emissions Recall 89E77 Emission System Modifications
2. 88E73 APR 89 Recall 88E73 CAT Convertor and Y-Pipe Replacement

V6-232 3.8L General Recalls
1. M56 FEB 88 Heater and Engine Bypass Hose Replacement - Program M56

V8-302 5.0L Emissions Recalls
1. 90E94 MAY 91 Emissions Recall 90E94



  • 117,274
  • 109,414
  • 7,860



GS/LS Production

XR7 Production


Site Search

Features Unique to 1985 Cougars:
  • Graphic equalizer (one year only style)
  • Light Sage exterior color (one year only)
  • Dark Sage exterior color (one year only)
  • Pastel Regatta Blue Metallic exterior color (light blues were unique to each model year)

Back To Top



NOTE: Discussion groups may require registration and/or membership fees. COOL CATS is not responsible for any fees, content, or login requirements associated with these links. See our Terms of Use for more information.