The Mercury Mountaineer is a midsize sport utility vehicle with seating for up to seven. The Mercury Mountaineer is a solid choice when needing a versatile midsize SUV. Being built on the same platform as the Ford Explorer, the Mountaineer is truck-like when it comes to handling and towing capabilities, but that is where the similarities end. The Mercury Mountaineer has a softer ride, more luxurious features and a lower cost than most crossovers in its class.

Trim Levels and Options

Two trim levels are offered for the Mercury Mountaineer. Base and Premier levels come standard with rear-wheel drive and an all-wheel drive option. The base model has cruise control, full power accessories, 17-inch wheels, leather wrapped steering wheel, audio controls on the steering wheel, CD player with auxiliary jack and seats five people. The base model has the option for a third-row seat package with a fold-flat split rear bench and auxiliary climate control. A Comfort package is also available and includes leather upholstery, heated front seats, six-way power seat, 10-way power driver seat, dual-zone climate control and heated front seats.

The Premier level has the PowerFold third-row seat and includes most of the Comfort package options. Options for the Premier level are a third-row seat Elite package with power folding third row features. Rear parking assist, heated front seats, navigation and rear seat DVD system and power-deployable running boards are options for the Premier package. For the full luxury package there is a Moon & Tune Elite package which includes satellite radio equipment, 20-inch wheels, in-dash six-CD changer and a sunroof. Mountaineers with three rows of leather seating have the option to choose second-row captain’s chairs.

Power and Performance

The Mercury Mountaineer base model starts with a 4.0 liter V6 engine that puts out 210 horsepower with 254 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard for the V6 models. The Premier trim level offers an optional 4.6 liter V8 with 292 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque and an automatic six-speed transmission. Both V6 and V8 models are available in rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, depending on the package.

The Mercury Mountaineer has a useful towing capacity of up to 7,220 pounds, when properly equipped. While the towing capacity is generous for an SUV in this class, the gas mileage is a bit lower than competitors. The Mountaineer averages 13 mpg city and 18-20 mpg highway, regardless of the engine and transmission combination.

Although the Mountaineer shares a platform with the Ford Explorer, the ride is much different. Mercury has softened the ride for a more comfortable and smooth driving experience. All-wheel drive is an option for the Mountaineer but is more suited to all weather driving on the road rather than off-road driving. The four-wheel independent suspension helps keep good road contact and a more stable ride.

Safety

Standard safety features include stability control with a rollover sensor and antilock disc brakes. While most SUVs in this category offer curtain airbags for all three rows of seating, the Mountaineer includes front seat side airbags and first and second row side curtain airbags. Even so, the Mountaineer earned five tar ratings from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration in frontal and side impact crash tests.

The 2009 Mercury Mountaineer has a few small changes for the new model year. The changes are mainly small, cosmetic additions and a few new options that are now available.

For the Premier trim level, satellite radio now comes standard. A Voga package is available this year for the Premier trim. This package includes a few flashy interior trim elements, new chrome exterior accents, and leather upholstery. The fuel filter has been changed to a capless version. The Sync system for voice control is a new standard feature. There is also a new option for 20-inch wheels. The navigation system in the 2008 models has been updated for 2009 with the addition of the Sirius Travel Link option. This provides local gas prices, traffic conditions, movie listings and more in real time.

The Base and the Premier are the only two 2009 trim levels. Both trims are available with either all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. There are two types of powertrains available. There is a 4.0 liter, V6 engine with 210 horsepower that comes with five-speed automatic transmission. There is also a 4.6 liter, V8 engine with 292 horsepower that comes with six-speed automatic transmission.

The base trim comes with air conditioning, automatic headlamps, and 17-inch alloy wheels standard. The Premier trim comes with upholstery in simulated suede and leather, a third-row seat, 18-inch wheels that are chrome clad, the SYNC communication system and an automatic climate control system. For safety, the standard features include traction control, anti-lock disc brakes and the AdvanceTrac system for stability control. This includes state-of-the-art anti-rollover technology. There are also airbags in the front as well as side-curtain and side-impact airbags. There is an optional Comfort package on the case trim that comes with heated front seats, climate control for dual zones and power seats.