Large sport-utility vehicles have a leg up on minivans and station wagons in terms of coolness factor, but at the same time they also offer some additional unique and practical features as well. Their tall ride height guarantees a bird's-eye view of surrounding traffic, their all-wheel drive systems help out when navigating deeper snow or rain-soaked roads, and their rugged construction helps them stand up to the abuse that all family vehicles take thanks to the combined stressors of kids, gear and poorly maintained roads.
However, there are some trade-offs to be had with a full-size SUV that cause many to question whether they are truly a good fit for their driving needs. The plus-size dimensions of these enormous vehicles make them difficult to pilot in a city, and even harder to park. Their ponderous weight also hurts them in the fuel efficiency department, as their large displacement V-8 engines are called upon to work hard, sucking down gas like there's no tomorrow. Finally, the truck-derived frames these vehicles are based around don't exactly offer the plush ride that many drivers would prefer, instead transmitting many of the shocks caused by imperfections in the road directly through the heavy-duty suspension system of the automobile.
Fortunately, there is a sport-utility compromise of sorts that is appealing to a wide range of buyers. Compact SUV's adopt the majority of the feature set offered by their larger cousins but go about implementing them in a different manner, one which prioritizes comfort and convenience over sheer brutal size. These smaller vehicles are easy to handle thanks not only to their shorter wheelbases but also due to the fact that many of them are constructed upon platforms borrowed from popular sedans. This gives them a compliant ride not possible with a full-size frame while still preserving the height, interior space and all-wheel drive that makes an SUV so popular.
Mercury had sold its own version of the mid-size Ford Explorer SUV for many years, so when it came time to move into the compact segment they were well prepared to make use of the Ford Escape platform. This popular compact SUV eventually made it into the Mercury lineup in 2005, and it was upgraded to provide a wider range of comfort features along with styling that was a bit more refined than its corporate stable mate. This article examines the features of the best used compact SUV available from Mercury.
2005 - 2007 Mercury Mariner
Mercury was fortunate to start out with such a well-sorted compact SUV platform when they were handed the Ford Escape on a silver platter and told to build their own sport-utility vehicle based off of its design. The Escape had been on the market for two years at this point and many of the vehicle's kinks had been worked out, simplifying the task for Mercury's engineers. The 2005 - 2007 Mercury Mariner further smoothes out some of the Escapes rougher edges and provides an attractively-styled compact SUV that doesn't look out of place alongside vehicles costing thousands of dollars more.
The Mercury Mariner can be found with one of two different engines resting underneath the hood. Base or 'Convenience' models come with a 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder engine that puts out 153 horsepower along with 152 lb-ft of torque. Fuel mileage is an impressive 22 miles per gallon in the city and 26 miles per gallon in highway driving, numbers that are made possible partly due to the SUV's low curb weight. 'Luxury' and 'Premier' editions of the Mariner see a power boost in the form of a 3.0-liter V-6 that produces 200 horses and 193 lb-ft of torque. All trim levels can be had in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive, and each uses a 4-speed automatic transmission.
Despite its compact designation, the 2005 - 2007 Mercury Mariner scores big in terms of interior space, with 66 cubic feet of total cargo room available with the rear seats out of the picture. Comfort is key for passengers, with Mercury ensuring that even the lowliest of Mariners comes equipped with air conditioning and full range of power equipment. Upgrades include leather seats, a moonroof and suede trim, along with goodies like a subwoofer for the vehicle's stereo system and backup assistance.
The 2005 - 2007 Mercury Mariner is a used compact SUV that provides a great number of comfort and convenience features at a much lower price than other luxury sport-utility vehicles.