Test Drive: 2009 Mercury Mariner
Climbing into the Mariner you can tell it's a little classier, a little sportier if you will, than the Escape. In a beauty pageant, the Mariner would definitely take the crown if only by a hair.
The new Mariner has ultra clean lines, 17-inch rims and a big bold grille. A redesigned front bumper spoiler and new rear tire spoilers are not only aerodynamic but add to the SUV's overall style.
The overall look is classy but solid - sort of like a fine Thoroughbred racehorse. Like its cousin, the Mariner also has a hybrid version for those that want ultra eco friendly.
But the standard Mariner is no slouch in the green department. The 240-horse power, V-6 engine is equipped with iVCT and ETC along with new cylinder heads, intake and exhaust cams, injectors, intake and exhaust manifolds and pistons. What that means for you is better gas mileage - 19 city, 25 highway for 4WD - and a cleaner ride. It also has Easy Fuel, a cap-less fuel filler system that prevents fumes from escaping into the environment.
There are also plenty of green extras the average passenger or driver might never notice. The seats, for example, include soy-based foam that substitutes for petroleum-based products, eco-friendly seat fabrics for 100% recycled materials.
What's really unexpected is the Mariner's power. Don't look for hesitation or sloppy braking here because you won't feel it. Mercury credits that kick to the new power train lineup that has a more powerful and fuel-efficient 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine and a new six-speed automatic transmission. For you that means an 11 percent increase in power output that improves 0-60 mph acceleration by 1.7 seconds.
Not only is the cabin quiet, but the ride is surprisingly firm. A revised and tuned suspension is to thank for that feeling, said Mercury noting the Mariner has a new rear stabilizer bar and shock absorber tuning. That's also why the car has the tight cornering capabilities that will ease you into a cramped urban parking spot.
Fair warning: This isn't the car you want to take off-roading with a group of friends. This is the SUV you want to drive around town while running errands with the kids. That's not to say it won't take on some pretty rugged terrain such as most people encounter when traveling to ski, kayak, or otherwise enjoy the outdoors. But if you're planning to drive off road through the Arizona Red Rocks, you might want to look elsewhere.
But if you're not a tri-athlete looking for an SUV equal to performing the equivalent of the Iron Man competition, this car could well suit you especially if you like extra flashes of style.
The Mariner's interior is just pretty. There's really no other way to describe the comfortable stylish seating with plenty of lumbar support, the satin pewter and chrome trim, and ambient lighting. It's also storage friendly with plenty of slots and hideaway areas in the cabin. There's plenty of space for four adults, although anything over that would make it fairly cramped.
The rear cargo area is roomy and has plenty of configuration options as well thanks in part to the 60/40 split-fold rear bench. When down, the rear cargo storage space measures 66.3 cubic feet, according to Mercury.
Just as you'd expect, the Mariner boasts the same safety technologies as the Escape including AdvanceTrac with RSC (Roll Stability Control), a Safety Canopy that offers protection for the first and second seating rows, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System, and plenty of others including an array of airbags.
Of course one of Ford's main attractions these days is the high-end technology it loads into its products. SYNC, the in-car communication and entertainment platform, Satellite Radio, voice-activated navigation, and steering wheel audio controls are just some of the techno-friendly systems in the Mariner.
With an MSRP starting at just $22,310, it's tough to imagine a better value.