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2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid FWD Review

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  • SEE ALSO: Mercury Specs, Pics and Price - Mercury Buyers Guide


    By Katrina Ramser


    The mid-size SUV Mariner, the more refined hybrid twin of the Ford Escape, has received its fare share of recognition from Green supporters, from the Green Car Journal to the U.S. Environmental Projection Agency.

    Mariner is part of the Ford Motor Company and was formed in the 1930s to be an upscale brand alongside Lincoln. Updates for the 2008 model mainly include styling. It stands out from the Escape with a more luxurious or prominent front grille.

    I drove a 2008 Mariner Hybrid with a 153-horsepower 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine combined with a 94-horsepower electric motor powertrain and FWD (2WD). It came with the Hybrid Premium Package, which included power heated mirrors, heated front seats, a digital navigation system, roof rack with cross bars, leather seating, and a retractable cargo cover ($3,395). It also had Sirius satellite radio ($995) and an AC 100V power outlet ($180). Total vehicle price came to $31,000.

    Mechanically, the Escape Hybrid and the Mariner are exactly alike. Power generates from both the 4-cylinder gas engine and the electric vehicle (EV) drive motor. Slower speeds under 25-mph and the engine sticks with electric mode. The hybrid system houses a 330-volt battery pack of 250 D-size nickel-metal-hydride cells beneath the rear cargo floor. The regenerative braking system automatically recharges its battery pack so don't be thinking you need to plug it in.

    The Mariner features Ford's Navigation system. The LCD screen doubles as an information center for hybrid functions to graphically illustrate whether the system is operating on the gas engine, electric drive, a combination of both or recharging during braking. The touch screen is somewhat user-friendly, but not as instinctual to work as other makers.

    I have driven a 2008 Ford Escape and can mimic the same attributes and experience as the Mariner. A total vehicle cost for the Escape Hybrid with the same fixings (Premium Package) is approximately $32,760. Gas mileage is exactly the same as for the Mariner: 34-mpg city and 30-mpg highway driving.


    Stylish But Comfortable Results:
    The 6-way adjustable driver’s seat is comfortable. The stone-colored leather made the interior look light and stylish in contrast to black exterior. Dual-zone climate control dials. Dark cherry wood trim and brush aluminum. Ice Blue dashboard and center console lighting sets the look off at night. It’s a comfortable drive because it is a manageable SUV size. Fits five without any complaints.

    Reliability & Safety Factor:
    One reason the Ford SUV hybrid lineup is falling a bit short on bigger consumer and media endorsement is because its getting dinged for having low braking scores. Consumer Reports found it took 161 feet for both vehicles to stop from 60-0 mph – this is about 25-30 feet more than what competitors are testing. For 2008, Ford didn't make it in the Top Ten of Consumer Reports' recommended manufacturers. It would be more accurate to say the automaker actually landed near the bottom of the list citing average reliability where the brakes and body hardware is concerned. This is not to say it hasn't improved over the years since its entry into the market in 2006. Ford Motor Company has an extended Powertrain Limited Warranty that includes extended warranty coverage for certain engine, transmission, front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive components that are covered for 5 years/60,000 miles (whichever occurs first).

    Cost Issues:
    Without any of the options mentioned, MSRP can be as low as $25,765. This is a good deal for a mid-sized, 5-passenger SUV with an average driver getting 32.6-mpg under the 2.3-liter 2WD, facts based on the U.S. Department of Energy data for the Mariner. It will cost you about $44 to fill up your tank with an average of $1,531 on gas per year. If you meet the requirements, you can qualify for a federal income tax credit of $3,000 on this hybrid purchase.

    Activity & Performance Ability:
    The brakes did not feel that responsive in comparison to all the different makers I've driven, so I have to agree there is concern. The Mariner has a good turning radius, so you can maneuver in-and-out of parking lots and tighter turns. Visibility when driving is good.

    The Green Concern:
    Out of a best possible score of 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gives the Mariner's 2.3-liter FWD engine a 9.5 where conserving air pollution is concerned and 9 on ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It rates high.

    Based on exterior and interior looks, the Mariner is a great deal for a hybrid SUV. The issue is its just not where it could be (especially on the brakes side), but getting better with each year. You take some chances with a Ford product – Toyota hybrid SUVs have a better track record.

    2008 Katrina Ramser