Like its sister model, the Ford Escape, the Mercury Mariner is a compact sport utility vehicle (SUV). Following the success of the Escape, which debuted in 2000, Mercury introduced the Mariner in 2005. As is typical with most Mercury models with regard to their Ford counterparts, the Mariner offers a more upscale interior and extra features not found in the Escape. The last Mariner rolled off the assembly line in 2010 before Ford closed the Mercury division.
The 2010 models come with either 3.0-liter V6, 2.5-liter four-cylinder or 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid engines. Horsepower ranges from 171 for the standard four-cylinder engine to 240 for the V6 version. Unlike the Escape, the Mariner provides an automatic transmission as standard equipment. It offers seating for two in the front and three in the back. The Mariner also delivers generous cargo space, making it a good compromise between a larger SUV and a family sedan.
Fuel economy is commendable, particularly with the hybrid model. According to the EPA, the V6 Mariner commands 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. The four-cylinder versions attain 19 mpg on city streets and 25 mpg on highways. Most impressive is the four-cylinder hybrid, which boasts 29 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. Designed at Lincoln-Mercury headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, the vehicle is manufactured in Claycomo, Missouri, and Avon Lake, Ohio.
The introductory 2005 model featured the signature Mercury grille, as well as interiors that were more upscale than those of the Escape. The hybrid version made its debut in 2006 and Mercury presented a specially-appointed model to former President Bill Clinton. The hybrid is capable of switching between purely electric battery power, total gasoline power or a combination of the two. The 2008 model boasted a makeover that included updated headlights and taillights, as well as new wheels and doors. The vehicle's electronic power steering (EPS) system was enhanced by the inclusion of pull-drift technology. To improve fuel efficiency, Flex-Fuel technology became optional in the 2010 models.
Mariners differentiate themselves from Escapes by way of several attractive features. The exterior is clad in monotone finishes, as opposed to the two-tone colors worn by Escapes. The Mariner's grille is laden with more chrome and larger headlights. The 2010 model offers optional features that include the Ford MyKey system, Park Assist technology and a rear-view camera.
The Mercury Mariner received the Green Car of the Year award in 2006. The Mariner is also well-liked by industry reviewers. Consumer Reports magazine lists all versions of the 2010 model among its recommended vehicles. It was named a Best Buy from 2005 through 2007 by Consumers Digest magazine.
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