There's good news and bad news for the handy Mercury Mariner compact sports utility vehicle--a real suburban utility vehicle.
The new the Mercury Mariner gets an extensive facelift and mechanical upgrades for 2008. That's very good. The Mariner already is adept around town--it's a crosstown cruiser. Now it looks and handles even better.
But remaining are the 153 horsepower 2.3L four cylinder and the 200 horse power 3L V-6. Both run through a four-speed automatic transmission. Lack of power is a dilemma here. Yet the sturdy Mercury Mariner keeps up and can even lead in congested urban areas.
That's despite the pickup. No matter how you slice the Mariner's acceleration it comes up 10 seconds plus or minus to 60 mph with the V-6. The Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner Hybrid combines an electric motor with a gasoline four cylinder and does the zero to 60 mph in a flat 10 seconds.
This may prove that adding stuff like a satellite radio, leather steering wheel, power heated mirrors and front seats and a navigation system burdens a V-6 Mariner.
More likely it is the added weight of the four-wheel drive system. Or it could be returning drum brakes to the back wheels instead of previous disc brakes. That could add weight. It certainly adds to braking distances despite the anti-lock braking.
Or perhaps the drums help compensate for new interior design. This includes, says Ford, "satin pewter finishes" along with new seats, door trim panels and a floor-mounted shifter (just like everybody else.)
Maybe it's to pay for the new "ice blue" instrument panel lighting. There's also a new, larger chrome grille. Ford urges a closer look at the headlamps which have a Mercury badge "subtly integrated" inside the housing.
On the road, there are some more practical changes to the steering and chassis. The Mariner comes with a speed-sensitive electric power assist steering for better feel and a retuned suspension for a more car-like ride. Passengers get an interior that's quieter.
Curves are handled accurately. The new ride is a bit firm. There's plenty of lean on had curves. The new seats feel a tad small to the ample bodied. The bolsters are more for looks than actually stopping side slide. But there's oceans of front legroom
The leather-clad four-spoke steering wheel is cluttered with cruise and audio controls.
Backing up the driver, is Ford's roll stability control. Another driver aide is the top of dash display that repeats radio, climate control and temperature readouts right at eye level. Side mirrors are nice and big and most of the hood is in view.
The Mariner Hybrid provides similar acceleration, better fuel economy and less pollution and is worth the premium. And it comes with four wheel disc brakes.
|Mercury Mariner Premier 4wd
•Dimensions: 103.1" wheelbase; 175.2" length
•Base price: $25,805/tested $29,720
•Fuel economy: 19/24 mpg