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Mercury Mariner Hybrid Review

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2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid

Hop in the Mariner Hybrid and twist the key, clicking noises enimate, the engine cranks and quickly fires up. In warm enough conditions, with all systems optimal, the gasoline engine will shuts down, and you drive completely under battery power. The electric traction motor with 94 HP (70-kilowatt) powers the Mariner Hybrid up to 20 mph or untill the throttle is pressed down hard. At such a point, the 133 HP Atkinson cycle gasoline engine will fire up and join the traction motor to give the desired thrust. The engine can also shut down while coasting or decelerating. The Mariner Hybrid is a full hybrid, meaning it will try to run on electricity alone whenever possible.

Power steering is electric, so even when you're running on battery power, there's no impromptu steering wheel struggle when the gasoline motor turns off as it would normally in a normally aspirated Mariner (which uses a traditional engine-driven steering assist belt).

Air conditioning is driven by the gasoline engine. When that engine shuts off, the AC will too. These could leave drivers sweating in urban conditions so you are able to switch from AC to Max AC, which on the Mariner Hybrid, sends a signal to the engine to keep on turning.

The Mercury Mariner Hybrid uses an adapted 2.3L four-cylinder engine that has been detuned. Atkinson cycle technology allows in less fuel and air, which improves efficiency at the cost of 20 HP. The combination of the Atkinson-cycle gas engine and electric traction motor makes for an effective 155 HP, enough for a smart pull away.

Slowing and braking regenerates power to the supplemental battery, an array of 250 1.3-volt nickel-metal hydride D-cells under the cargo floor. The batteries plus the two motors add 300 pounds, for a total of 3,787 pounds curb weight. The batteries and electric motors are warranted for 8 years or 100,000 miles; the bulk of the car is 3/36. The Mariner's four-wheel drive and all-season tires will get you through most snowy weather. It's a fine vehicle for cruising two-lane roads (avoid passing) and interstates, but not for twisty mountain roads. At 70 inches high (and wide), stability control would help rein in overly exuberant driving; unfortunately, it's not available, so you're trading a measure of personal safety for environmental improvement.

The Mariner isn't the most quiet, but has plenty of backseat room, high seating, and a spacious carpeted cargo area. The premium audio system (seven speakers and a six-disc CD changer with MP3 capability) sounds nice. A $3,795 premium package (navigation, leather, premium audio with six-disc CD changer, parking sonar, cargo cover, heated front seats, side air curtains, and front side airbags) turn this vehicle into a very comfortable place to spend time. The radio/navigation package fits into a big dashboard cutout, but the LCD is only 4 inches.

When navigation gets ordered, the standalone premium audio system's six-disc CD changer gets exiled under the passenger seat; in its place in-dash is a single CD-drive (nav or audio) requiring you to swap among the half-dozen discs covering the U.S. Almost every other maker has switched to DVD based navigation, since the extra few dollars a DVD drive costs gets buried in the $1,500-plus cost of these systems.

High Points

  • Fuel economy
  • Bold styling
  • Rides better, out handles most of its competition

Low Points

  • Tacky simulated wood trim
  • Navigation system far from the best available
  • Battery charge/motor assist gauge angled too oddly to view easily

Gas Mileage

Trim

FWD 2.3L automatic

FWD 3.0L

4WD 2.3L automatic

4WD 3.0L

Engine

2.3L I-4

3.0L V6

2.3L I-4

3.0L V6

MPG (City/Highway)

22/26

20/24

21/24

19/23

Reliability and Maintenance

Interior and Comforts

The steering wheel is leather wrapped, but there are no audio volume/track buttons. Some switches are awkwardly placed such as the seat heaters, low down next to the door pockets. The satin trim pieces are pleasant to the eye. Many buyers won't feel the same about the simulated wood grain pieces.

Buyers who opt for the navigation system, can bring up a Hyrid Energy Flow screen, although many may find it hard to figure out what's going on. More informative is the fuel consumption graph screen, which shows the last 15 minutes of economy figures. It is somewhat marred by lettering across the bottom which indicates the average. The 110-volt AC socket offered in the Ford Escape Hybrid isn't available in the Mariner Hybrid, which some buyers may find troublesome.

Exterior

Mercury's trademark satin-finish aluminum vertical-bar grille sits on a matching bumper inset, turn indicator lights are housed where the headlamp lenses wrap around the fenders and the central recess in the hood imbues the front fenders with a subtle shoulder look.

Borrowing from Europe, small turn-indicator repeater lights are positioned in the front quarter panels just aft of and slight above the front wheel wells. Understated cladding preserves and protects the lower door panels and tie together the minimalist front and rear fender flares, nicely finishing the mid-door, horizontal character line optically connecting the front and rear bumpers. The tall glasshouse is properly proportioned to balance the body side panels. The angled C-pillar behind the rear side door accentuates the people-orientation of the Mariner Hybrid while acknowledging it can haul cargo, too.

More satin-finish grille-like accents brace the taillamps. The side character line continues across the liftgate, swelling in the center to form a surround for the license plate recess. Another satin-finish inset separates the step-top of the rear bumper and the body-color lower fascia. Hybrid badges flank both front doors and the rear liftgate.

Styles and Options

The Mercury Mariner Hybrid is available in one 4-door body style. Four wheel drive is standard.

Standard Equipment

  • 6-way power adjustable driver's seat
  • Air conditioning
  • AM/FM stereo with in-dash 6-CD changer
  • Leather wrapped steering wheel
  • Rearview mirror with automatic dimming
  • Keyless entry keypad on driver's door
  • 16" 5 spoke aluminum wheels

Safety Package - $595

  • Safety Canopy™ System with side-curtain airbags and rollover sensor
  • Front-seat side-impact airbags

Premium Package - $3,795

  • Heated leather seating surfaces with perforated leather inserts
  • Reverse-sensing system
  • Upgraded audio system
  • Navigation system with Hybrid energy flow display, 7-speakers & MP3 capability (Premium Package)
  • Safety Canopy™ System with side-curtain airbags and rollover sensor
  • Front-seat side-impact airbags
  • Reverse sensing system

Optional Equipment

  • Power sunroof (requires Premium Package) - $585
  • Audiophile 6-disc in-dash CD changer with 7-speakers & MP3 capability - $595
  • Navigation system with Hybrid energy flow display, 7-speakers & MP3 capability - $1,995

Main Competitors

External links