Four years later, the Mercury Mountaineer gets a mid-cycle update for 2006 that includes an all-new interior, a significant power upgrade, and a re-engineered platform that should tide consumers over until a completely redesigned model arrives later this decade.
Starting on the outside, the 2006 Mercury Mountaineer gets a revised grille, a new front bumper treatment, fresh wheel designs, and power retractable running boards that are completely hidden from sight when the doors are closed. The ribbed side cladding is ditched for a smooth, clean appearance, and bigger side mirrors improve visibility. In back, a revised tailgate is added, the tail lamp lenses are clear with red bulbs, and the bumper gets a strip of satin-silver trim. The overall effect is a more aggressive yet contemporary appearance, especially with the optional 18-inch wheels, which do a great job of filling the wheel wells.
Under the skin, the 2006 Mercury Mountaineer receives a new 4.6-liter V8 engine that whips up 292 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and 300 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,750 rpm, a significant upgrade over the old 240-horse V8. The standard 4.0-liter V6 engine continues to generate 210 horsepower for 2006, and Mercury still offers the Mountaineer with either 2WD or AWD. Additional engineering updates include a strengthened frame, as well as retuned front and more compact rear independent suspensions. The anticipated result of these upgrades is tighter handling, improved ride quality, and two rows of rear seats that fold completely flat to create a level cargo area.
In terms of safety, the 2006 Mercury Mountaineer is equipped with a standard stability control system with rollover sensing called AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control (RSC). A Safety Canopy system of side-impact and side-curtain airbags includes rollover protection that keeps the curtain airbags inflated for an extended period of time to better protect occupants, and the front passenger frontal airbag is a dual-depth design that deploys based on crash severity, seatbelt use, and occupant position. Improving visibility during poor weather conditions, and thus safety, is an available electrically heated windshield.
The Mercury Mountaineer, and the Ford Explorer upon which it is based, have been among our favorite SUVs for years. With significant upgrades for 2006, the Mountaineer remains among the best of the breed.
Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company