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Hybrid SUVs like the Mercury Mariner Hybrid are aimed primarily at green-thinking car buyers who want it all. By sport-utility standards, fuel economy is high and tailpipe emissions are low. At the same time, the Mariner Hybrid allows one to live the hybrid car lifestyle without losing the everyday versatility provided by all-wheel drive and a decent-sized cargo area.
As part of Mercury's demise, the Mariner Hybrid will only be produced through 2011. Mechanically, it's identical to the Ford Escape Hybrid. Differentiation comes about mostly through altered exterior styling and the Mariner's higher-quality interior.
Most Recent Mercury Mariner Hybrid
The Mercury Mariner Hybrid compact SUV was produced in two generations. The more recent ran from 2008-'11.
This Mariner was available in one well-equipped trim level. Standard amenities included full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, the Sync phone/MP3 player interface and an in-dash CD changer with MP3 audio input. Options included heated leather seats, an upgraded seven-speaker audio system, a navigation system, a sunroof, a rearview camera, MyKey (which allows parents/owners to limit speed and audio volume) and an automated parallel-parking assist feature.
A two-wheel-drive Mariner Hybrid should be able to deliver close to 30 mpg in real-world city and highway driving. Its powertrain consists of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, a pair of electric motors and an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Under full acceleration, both power sources work together to provide maximum oomph, but under lighter load conditions, such as stop-and-go traffic, the Mariner Hybrid alternates between the two, oftentimes running purely on battery power alone. A regenerative braking system converts energy normally lost as heat into electricity to recharge the vehicle's batteries.
Although the cumulative horsepower rating of 177 doesn't sound very impressive, the Mercury Mariner Hybrid was quicker than the regular four-cylinder Mainer. Two-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive models were offered.
The Mariner Hybrid's cabin was tastefully accented with faux aluminum, chrome and wood-grain trim. The backseat was roomy and comfortable enough to keep a pair of adults content on road trips, and there was almost 28 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats with up to 66 cubic feet when folded.
With its gas engine and electric motors working in concert, the Mercury Mariner Hybrid returned outstanding fuel mileage. Unfortunately, its engine made a lot of noise under hard acceleration. Ride quality was acceptable for a small SUV, but handling was unimpressive because of the additional weight of the hybrid components. Braking performance was poor due to the Mariner's lackluster front disc/rear drum setup.
There were only a few changes during this model's time. For 2010, the Mariner Hybrid benefited from a few more high-tech features including the "Auto Park" automatic parallel-parking option and MyKey (which allowed parents to limit speed and audio volume for their teen drivers). Most importantly, a new electrically driven air-conditioning compressor arrived as well. Previously, the A/C would shut down with the engine when the vehicle stopped at a light or was stuck in traffic. You could override this, but then you wouldn't get the fuel economy savings auto stop/start provides.
Past Mercury Mariner Hybrids
The first-generation Mercury Mariner hybrid was produced for 2006-'07. These earlier Mariners had a hybrid powertrain similar to that of the second-gen version, albeit with a slightly smaller, 2.3-liter 155-hp engine. All-wheel drive was standard. Also, they lacked the newer Mariner's updated styling and features.