1992 would be the highpoint of the 11 year run for the Tempo / Topaz. Ford was already deep in the development of a replacement for the Tempo / Topaz, which would be a European-bred small sedan. However, there were still a few years left before this new sedan would be available.
The 1992 model year saw an exterior freshening for both the Tempo and Topaz. Two big changes happened under the hoods. First off, a 3.0L V6 could now be stuffed between the fender wells. The new V6 became the center piece of the redone GLS / LTS / XR5 packages. Secondly, the new V6 and the 2.3L HSC now featured a Mass Air-Flow (MAF) based Sequential-Port Fuel Injection (SPFI) system.
This year, FoMoCo updated the styling of the two cars to match the trend of the entire car line. Most of the body panels remained the same. There were new bumper designs, new grilles, new taillight designs on the 4-doors, and revised bodyside moldings. To cap it off, a fully integrated ground effects package was standard on the sport models.
Starting at the front, all cars received a revised front bumper. This new bumper featured a more prominent single air inlet at the bottom, replacing the smaller two row inlets from previous years. The black with chrome look of the upper part of the bumper (which matched previous bodyside moldings) was now gone. The entire bumper was painted a solid color to give a cleaner and smoother look to the cars. Ford Tempo?s got a new design on the grille, with a prominent upper bar with center mounted Ford oval, that was painted body color. The Topaz received the second version of the pseudo-lightbar grille that featured a stylized ?M? logo in the center. This new grille required a new header panel, that was different than the one used on the Tempo. Headlights and turn signals remained the same as before, but featured a revised mounting system.
On the sides of the car, wide black/chrome bodyside molding was replaced with a small body color strip of bodyside molding. At the rear of the car, 4-door models featured revised taillights. The Tempo taillights had a new curved surface and revised reflector design, while the Topaz taillights now featured the black strobe decal that was featured on the 2-door Topaz , Cougar, Sable and Tracer taillights.
The GLS / XR5 / LTS also received the new taillights, grilles, and revised bodyside trim. External changes continued with these models. The new front bumper featured a deeper and narrower front air intake (compared to other models) which allowed room for integrated round fog lights into the corners of the bumper. The bumper also featured integrated ground effects in the lower portions. On the sides of the cars, side sill extensions were featured, visually lowering the car. At the rear, a new rear bumper was used, which featured the integrated ground effects of the front bumper. On the left corner, an exhaust cut out appeared to expose the new polished dual-tip on the exhaust system. 2-door Tempo GLS and Topaz XR5 models lost the 3-piece rear spoiler, which was replaced by a new 1-piece full-width spoiler that wrapped over the sides of the rear fenders.
Exterior badging remained virtually unchanged from previous years, with one exception. Any vehicle equipped with a V6 engine received a V6 badge on the front fenders, just ahead of the doors.
The interiors received a slight freshening for the new year as well. Changes were subtle. The 6,000 rpm tach was replaced with a 7,000 rpm tach in the Sports Instrument Cluster. Luxury level models lost the wood strips that had previously graced the dash board and door panels. Topaz LTS still featured the wood panel on the instrument cluster, while the Topaz LS added to this panel the wood panels found in the door panel depressions found above the power window switches. Also new this year was the availability of a 120 MPH (200 KPH in Canada) speedometer. This was standard in the Tempo GLS, Topaz XR5 and Topaz LTS. It was also featured in the Topaz GS and Tempo GL with the Sport package, only available in Canada. The GLS / XR5 / LTS models also featured a new fog light switch, located in the center console to the right of the e-brake lever.
Another new option this year was the wider availability of two tone paint schemes. Previously available on only the sport models, the new two tone paint schemes were available on all models except the Tempo GLS.
1992 was a year of loss and a year of big gain for the Tempo / Topaz. Gone from the option list was the 2.3L HSO engine. Replacing the top performing engine is a new 3.0L OHV V6 engine and the availability of a new, stronger, MTX-IV 5-speed manual. Also absent from the option list this year was the foul-weather Four Wheel Drive option.
The Vulcan V6, which has previously been offered in the Taurus, Probe, Ranger, and Aerostar was now available in the Tempo / Topaz. Due to the tight constraints of the Tempo / Topaz engine compartment, several exterior pieces on the engine had to be redesigned to allow the engine to fit. This included the belt driven accessories and the exhaust manifolds. Because of the new exhaust manifolds, power output on the Vulcan was down slightly compared to when it was installed in other applications. Power output was a healthy 130 HP @ 4800 rpm, and torque was good for 150 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm. All V6 engines featured a stainless-steel exhaust system.
The base model engine continued to be the 2.3L HSC engine. A new fuel injection system was used in 1992, and this caused a slightly revised power output on this engine. Horsepower went down slightly to 96 HP @ 4400 rpm, and torque went up to 127 lb-ft @ 2200 rpm.
Both the Vulcan and the HSC received a new fuel injection system this year. The old Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) system was replaced with a new Mass Air-Flow (MAF) sensor setup controlled by the EEC-IV computer system. This new system made running even smoother and emissions were reduced accordingly.
Also new this year was the availability of the MTX-IV 5-speed manual transaxle. This transmission was the same transaxle that was used on the Taurus SHO, and was only available on the Vulcan V6. Gear ratios were identical to those used in the MTX-III, but the final drive ratio was 3:52:1. This final drive was the same on all Vulcan equipped V6 cars.
The MTX-III 5-speed manual continued to remain the standard transmission for 2.3L HSC equipped cars. Gone from the line up this year was the sport geared MTX-III, it was essentially replaced by the MTX-IV. All MTX-III equipped cars featured a 3.33:1 final drive ratio.
Optional on both the 2.3L HSC and the 3.0L Vulcan engine was the FLC 3-speed ATX. This transaxle was particularly suited to the torque and power characteristics of the 2.3L HSC engine and made a very smooth running combination. While all other applications of the Vulcan engine had Ford?s AXOD 4-speed overdrive transaxle attached to it, the Tempo and Topaz made due with the 3-speed due to the size restrictions on the larger AXOD. Because of the lack of an overdrive, and the increase in freeway speeds, the automatic equipped cars tended to be noisier at highway speeds versus the competition. New this year is a brake-shift interlock system. This prevents the ATX from being shifted out of park without your foot on the brake pedal.
Ride & Handling
New for this year, and featured on all vehicles equipped with a 3.0L V6 engine was a rear anti-roll bar.
The base suspension continues on unchanged for 1992. This suspension was available on the Tempo GL and the Topaz GS. Also moving into this year, unchanged, is the Touring Suspension. This suspension was standard on the Tempo LX and Topaz LS.
The Sports Suspension package was upgraded this year because of the newly availably V6 engine. This suspension package was standard and only available on the Tempo GLS, Topaz XR5 and Topaz LTS. Also part of this suspension package were the new for 1992 15? 8-spoke aluminum rims wrapped in 185/65R15 performance radial tires. These were the same rims that were used on the 1985.5-1990 Ford Escort GT and Escort EXP Sport Coupe.