Monday, October 1, 2007

2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid Review

For the coming model year the 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid, a small "cross over" SUV (four doors with room for five), has benefited from a total face lift, which designers have said was an effort to make the vehicle appear more "substantial." A larger grille with the satin waterfall (for which Mercurys are known) is augmented by a bigger logo and headlights with metallic surrounds, an overall package in keeping with the newly raised hood.

To the rear the tail lights have been retooled to mirror the front "eyebrow" design. The generous bumper insert also sports a satin finish with an embossed Mercury name in metal. (Additionally, the bumper houses the necessary sensors for the backup system, which are, unfortunately, black and can be quite obvious on lighter paint jobs.) Just so you don't think the Mariner is just another pretty face, maximum towing capacity is 1,000 lbs.

Inside, satin trim is used on the door, dash, and center console. The driver receives vehicle information from a display atop the dash. Throughout the cabin all controls are clearly visible, lighted with a stylish, icy blue and are well-placed for ease of operation. Look for removable bins in the center console and generous cargo space behind the 60/40 split-fold seats. The liftgate allows rear access through the window as well as by raising the entire gate itself.

The basic engine choices are still a 2.3-liter four-cylinder or a 3-liter V6, but the biggest changes in the hybrid are software based. The new system allows for a virtually seamless transition between electric and combustion modes. The electric motor is a four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine producing 70 kilowatts and utilizing a CVT. Both two-wheel and all-wheel drive options are available. Add electrically powered rack-and-pinion steering and you'll enjoy one of the smoothest rides on the road.

In terms of fuel economy the specs are shaping up for 34 mpg in town, a boost of almost 14 percent over previous hybrid models, and 27 to 30 out on the road.

Standard features on the 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid include airbags in the side and curtain positions, automatic climate control, an anti-lock braking system, conventional AM/FM/CD combo unit, and reverse sensing. Option packages can add a six-disc changer to the audio unit, Sirius satellite radio, a navigation system, moonroof, and leather upholstery over cloth. Depending on the features chosen, expect to spend between $25,955 and $27,705.

No comments: