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  • On December 26, 1988 a completely redesigned Thunderbird was introduced as a 1989 model alongside its sister car, the Mercury Cougar. Developed on Ford's new MN12 platform, the new Thunderbird featured a more aerodynamic body that was slightly shorter in overall length relative to the 1988 Thunderbird but had a nine inch longer wheelbase. The car featured a short-long arm four-wheel independent suspension, with a modified MacPherson strut assembly in front, that offered excellent handling and ride quality. This setup was significant as it made the Thunderbird and the Cougar the only rear-wheel drive North American domestic cars other than the Chevrolet Corvette to offer a four-wheel independent suspension at the time. Engine options fell to only two for 1989 as Ford dropped the V8 option for the new Thunderbird. The base and LX models were powered by Ford's 3.8 L Essex OHV V6. Producing 140 horsepower at 3800 rpm and 215 lb·ft of torque at 2400 rpm, many felt the engine was somewhat underpowered for a car that weighed over 3,500 pounds in base trim. This engine was mated to Ford's AOD 4-speed automatic transmission regardless of trim level from the 1989 to 1993 model years. Thanks in part to its low coefficient of drag, the Thunderbird was relatively fuel efficient considering its overall size and weight. The EPA gave 1989 Thunderbirds equipped with the standard V6 a fuel efficiency rating of 19 mpg-US in city driving and 27 mpg-US on the highway, though, like most cars built before 2008, this rating was retroactively reduced by the EPA to reflect newer, more realistic fuel efficiency measurements. The fuel efficiency rating was noticeably better than that of Thunderbirds equipped with higher performance engines and gave the base V6-equipped Thunderbird a significant driving range with its 19 gallon fuel tank. Wikipedia

Freebase Commons Automotive /automotive

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