2009 Mercury Mariner Review – the Hybrid SUV that can (and does) impress!

Monday September 29th, 2008 at 6:99 AM
Posted by: hollyrrr

Review by Holly R. | Photos by Derek Mau

Pros:

  • Really impressive (and decent) acceleration at speed
  • Mileage, mileage, mileage
  • Didn’t have to open the entire tailgate to get into the back of the vehicle
  • Continuously variable transmission
  • XM Satellite Radio and built-in Bluetooth

Cons:

  • Ack, the grill – not my thing
  • Engine takes an inordinate amount of time to reach “idle” after starting the car
  • The seats were pretty flimsy


Introduction:
I’ve been impressed with the Mariner Hybrid. An SUV that’s a Hybrid, and drives like a dream. My mileage has been increasing each time I drive it. The switch from battery to gas engine and back to battery is SEAMLESS. I’ve been looking forward to driving this all month, and it’s really not letting me down!

Fuel Economy:
Advertised: 34 in the city, and 31 highway (or 32 combined).
Actual: 28.4. Honestly, I’m pretty impressed with an SUV Hybrid getting this good of mileage. If I were to drive it longer, I’ll bet I could improve on the mileage, as I really only got to drive it long enough to almost get used to it. I really wish I could have had it for a full tank of gas (I only went through 1/2 a tank)!

Driving Impressions:
One of the major takeaways from driving the Mariner (other than the seamless battery switch, the mileage, etc.) was the quietness of the cabin. It was a nice, quiet, mellow ride, which would help you center yourself, given a stressful job, stressful day, bad traffic, etc.

The Mariner accelerated as well as one would imagine a Hybrid to do. I wasn’t blown away by it’s acceleration, or lack thereof, but I was certainly not disappointed either. I really enjoyed driving it, especially when the price of gas was edging closer to $5.00/gallon. I found it easy to park, easy to see out of, and it had nice “road manners”. For me, the biggest gold star was the switch to battery mode from the gas engine – it was seamless. Just exactly what you’d want in a Hybrid. I didn’t feel as though the Mariner was overweight, so it never felt lop-sided or top-heavy to me. It felt more like a wagon than an SUV, but with all the interior size of the SUV. It does weigh a bit more than it seems (3700 lbs), and the braking isn’t one of the better features of this vehicle. However, I would only ding it for that in an emergency braking scenario. As I never encountered an emergency situation, I felt that the braking was adequate for most driving situations.

Build:
The doors and exterior of the Mariner all felt solid. Given the flimsiness of the seats, nothing else in this vehicle felt cheap or easily breakable. As noted, the Mariner is build solidly enough that the ride inside is QUIET. Even over rough pavement, in traffic and in the city. The Mariner had enough ground clearance that I was able to see well up the road, without having trouble getting in or out of the vehicle. It never felt top-heavy to me. The lift-gate was easy to open, and easy to close and didn’t require slamming. The lift-gate window flipped up separately and was the same as the lift-gate – easily opened and closed. The rear-view side mirrors were nicely sized, and were easy to fold in towards the door, and they snapped back into place firmly. The windows rolled up and down smoothly – no lurching or jerking into action. All of the interior compartments were easy to open, and easy to latch. Both interior and exterior seemed equally solid in both build and quality.

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics:

The good:
The navigation system, while not the easiest to figure out, had some really fun features! For instance: you could pull up “points of interest”, and find the closest gas stations AND the price of gas at them. I checked a few out, and they were within a couple of cents of accuracy.

The Microsoft Sync integrated communications system took some getting used to. I was able to pair my cell phone with the system through a complicated maze of voice and button commands. It was NOT intuitive in the least bit, but if you follow the instructions, it sets up nicely.

The center console was genius! It was super deep, and had a movable tray such that you could hide something under it (a wallet) and someone poking around might never know it’s there (unless they read a review!). It was also deep enough for a woman’s purse (an average sized purse, not a duffle bag).

There was a ton of room inside. I cannot emphasize this enough. One of my taller friends got inside and was floored at how much room she had (so it’s not just an average-sized person saying it’s roomy!).

The carpet in the rear cargo area is reversible. If you flip it over, it has a easy-to-clean rubber surface, in case you need to haul around wet or messy items (standard feature).

The bad:
The seats felt really flimsy to me. Not only that, but I wasn’t able to get really comfortable in them, despite endless adjustments.

The Microsoft Sync system really takes some getting used to. It wasn’t intuitive in the least bit. This flowed over into the navigation system, which was pretty difficult to figure out. If it’s your car, you’ll take the time to read the manuals and figure it out. I just happen to like things that are intuitive, so I’m dinging it a bit here.

(Continued on page 2 – Performance | Handling | Styling | Value)

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