Hybrid Review: A
growing number of people today are sensitive to the amount of fuel they
consume, thanks to higher gas prices. Many of these folks are also
becoming more aware of the environmental impact of driving, and want to
create a smaller “carbon footprint” on the earth. But they are left cold
by the Toyota Prius and want a small, compact SUV.
If you’re one of those
individuals, you probably have discovered that there’s not much out
there for you. But, the Ford Motor Company offers you two Hybrid
choices, the Ford Escape and its more stylish sister, the Mercury
Mariner. I tested a Black Clearcoat 2008 Mariner Hybrid recently and am
here to tell the tale.
Before delving into the
environment-saving technology, I do need to mention that the Mariner,
introduced as a 2006 model, has been substantially restyled inside and
out for the 2008 model year. The Mercury logo is bigger, and there is
more of the bright work that is meant to read “upscale” in buyer’s
minds. The front and rear lights give a high-tech, complex touch. It
seems like just yesterday that headlamps and tail lamps were flat,
translucent forms. Now they are elaborate jewel cases.
The interior employs
Mercury touches, including exclusive textures and stretches of flat
plastic, to convey a more luxurious appearance than the essentially
identical Ford. The tan shades and silvery sections are mood-lifting and
make for pleasant commuting.
The goal of a hybrid
vehicle is to reduce fuel consumption but retain the feel and driving
experience of a standard car. The Mariner is successful there. At low
speeds, up to 25 mph depending on road conditions and angle, you are
using pure electricity, which is re-generated during braking. During
driving, the electric motor produces 70 kW of electricity, which is
enough to add 22 horsepower to the modest 2.3-liter, 133-horsepower
four-cylinder gas engine. The engine turns off at stoplights - the
ultimate gas saver.
The car seems to have
enough power for climbing hills and passing maneuvers, although on
extended upgrades, the engine routinely ran at more than 4,000 rpm to
keep up to speed. This is a function of the continuously variable
automatic transmission, which finds the best ratio for the driving
Hybrids are fuel
savers, but if there’s any disappointment here, it’s that the Mariner
Hybrid isn’t much better at it. Granted, it must haul 3,659 pounds of
mass, plus passengers, with less horsepower and torque than a V6, but
the EPA fuel economy numbers are 34 City, 30 Highway for the
two-wheel-drive model and 29 and 27 for the four-wheel-drive version.
Adding to my
frustration, the fuel economy computer that is standard in Priuses is an
option on the Mariner - and my tester didn’t have it. So I can’t give
you my exact mileage, which is always lower than the EPA’s official
figures. I can say that the EPA numbers for the non-hybrid model with
the four-cylinder engine are 23 City, 26 Highway, so there is definitely
some notable improvement with the hybrid power train, even if it’s not
quite as dramatic as it could be.
One very happy note -
the Mariner Hybrid earns fantastic EPA Green Vehicle numbers. My
two-wheel-drive tester got a 9.5 on the Air Pollution scale and an 8 on
the Greenhouse Gases scale. That puts it in the top ten vehicles sold in
The Mercury folks know
they’ve got a hot commodity here, so the Hybrid comes loaded with lots
of good things. Your main choice is between two-wheel drive or
four-wheel drive and which color you like. Standards include things like
four-wheel disc brakes with antilock; power windows, locks and mirrors;
remote keyless entry; dual automatic temperature control; automatic
headlamps; and an AM/FM/MP3-ready/single CD audio system.
abound, like side repeater turn-signal lamps in the mirrors, compass and
temperature display, an audio input jack, and a reverse sensing system.
And there’s much more.
If you want to upgrade,
Mercury is there to help. My tester had the Hybrid Premium Package, with
a navigation system and leather trim, surrounded by nice items such as
power heated mirrors, heated front seats, and a retractable cargo cover
(a very important option for security!). The Hybrid Moon and Tune
Package (sounds like an IHOP menu item) added a sunroof and Sirius
My car also had a
110-volt outlet for … I don’t know, exactly. I always picture plugging
in a desk lamp or a pencil sharpener in the dash someday.
The base price for the
two-wheel-drive Mariner Hybrid is $25,955, plus $665 delivery charge.
Add $1,010 for all-wheel drive. My tester, with the listed options, came
to exactly $31,000. For reference, the base, non-hybrid Mariner starts
at $20,920 plus $665 for destination charges.
At this point, the
Mariner Hybrid is a great way to be environmentally sensitive while
still enjoying the SUV style, utility, and driving experience.
By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Mercury Home Page
Byline: Hybrid Review
provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: A great environmentally sensitive compact SUV
Topic: The 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid
Word Count: 889
Photo Caption: The 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid
Photo Credits: Mercury Mariner Hybrid Internet Media
Series #: 2008 -
the Microsoft Word version here:
2008 Mercury Mariner
Download the Original Image File here:
2008 Mercury Mariner