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Saddled with an older platform, the 2007 Mercury Mariner remains a decent choice in the small-SUV class thanks to its spacious and functional interior. However, it's a good idea to try a few of its newer competitors before making a decision.
Stylish interior with plenty of room in front and back, good-sized cargo bay.
Mediocre performance with either engine, below-average gas mileage with V6, can't get stability control.
Available Mariner SUV Models
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There aren't many changes on the 2007 Mercury Mariner. High-line Premier models now come standard with front seat-mounted side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and reverse parking sensors. Mariner Luxury models are eligible for the Moon and Tune Package, which combines a moonroof, roof rack, satellite radio and in-dash CD changer. Drivetrain warranty coverage increases to five years/60,000 miles.
Consumers like small SUVs because they offer more cargo space than similarly priced sedans, not to mention a taller ride height and all-weather capability. When compared to larger SUVs, fuel economy is often a strength as well. Even smaller brands like Mercury have realized the importance of having a compact sport-ute in the lineup, so the company introduced the Mariner for the 2005 model year. Mechanically identical to the successful Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute, the 2007 Mercury Mariner shares their strengths and weaknesses. Like its siblings, it offers a choice between a V6 with decent scoot and a four-cylinder with a lot less power but a lot better fuel economy. The Mariner's suspension has been tuned to provide a middle-of-the-road compromise between ride quality and handling, and it's certainly an easy vehicle to drive around town. Pushed harder, the Mercury feels less sporty than the newer SUVs in the compact class, and its highway ride isn't as composed. On the plus side, the Mercury Mariner is actually the quietest of the three corporate siblings, as it has the most soundproofing material.
Inside, the instrumentation and controls look dated, but the Mariner compensates with a sharp two-tone decor and satin-finish faux aluminum trim that complements the metallic accents on the outside. In spite of the advancing age of this platform, the backseat is comfortable and offers plenty of legroom, making the Mariner a solid choice for small families. Nor does the room in the backseat come at the expensive of hauling space, as the cargo bay's 29 cubic feet of volume is more than ample for a week's worth of groceries. Safety ratings are solid, too, as the Mariner scores well in all major front- and side-impact crash categories.
The major downside to buying a Mercury Mariner is that it's not one of the newer designs in this segment. In addition to the signs of age apparent in its dynamics and cabin switchgear, it can't be equipped with certain features that newer competitors like the Toyota RAV4 and Mitsubishi Outlander offer, among these a third-row seat, a DVD-based navigation system, a rear DVD entertainment system and an auxiliary input jack to hook up your MP3 player. If the 2007 Mercury Mariner was the only small SUV you ever drove, you'd probably be perfectly satisfied with it. Drive it back to back with the above competitors or the redesigned Honda CR-V, though, and it feels like a midpack choice at best.
The 2007 Mercury Mariner compact SUV is offered in a single four-door body style. Three trim levels are offered: Convenience, Luxury and Premier. Base Convenience models start you out with 16-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, air-conditioning, a CD player, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, keyless entry and powered accessories. The Mariner Luxury adds a V6 engine, privacy glass and a power driver seat, along with a wider selection of optional features. Premier models step up with machined alloy wheels, heated leather seats with faux suede inserts, an upgraded audio system with an in-dash CD changer, an alarm system, a trip computer, heated outside mirrors and an auto-dimming rearview mirror; many of these items can be added to the Luxury model as options. Other major options include a moonroof, a roof rack and side step bars.
Standard on the Mariner Convenience model is a 2.3-liter, inline four-cylinder engine that makes 153 horsepower and 152 pound-feet of torque. It's matched to a four-speed automatic transmission. A manual gearbox is not available. Standard on Luxury and Premier models is a 3.0-liter V6 that makes 200 hp and 193 lb-ft of torque. It's also paired with a four-speed automatic. Buyers have a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive on all trim levels. Equipped with the optional Class II trailer hitch, a V6 Mariner can tow up to 3500 pounds.
Antilock brakes and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard on all Mariners, and V6 4WD models have four-wheel disc brakes. Optional on Convenience and Luxury models, and standard on the Premier, are front-seat side airbags and full-length head curtain airbags that deploy in the event of a side-impact collision or rollover. Rear parking sensors are also standard on the Mariner Premier, but aren't available on other trims.
The 2007 Mercury Mariner's safety ratings are solid. It earned a perfect five stars for driver protection in frontal impacts and four stars for the front passenger during NHTSA crash testing. In side-impact crash tests, it received five stars for both front- and rear-seat occupants. The IIHS rates the Mariner "Acceptable" (the second highest) for frontal-offset crash safety. In IIHS side-impact tests, the small SUV earned a "Good" rating (the highest) when equipped with side airbags and a "Poor" rating (the worst) without the bags.
The Mariner boasts a stylish interior with an assortment of wood-grain, satin-finish faux aluminum and chrome accents, and a two-tone color scheme. The optional leather upholstery has contrasting faux suede inserts and is double-stitched for an upscale look. The 60/40-split rear seat includes three-point seatbelts and head restraints for all three seating positions. You'll find 29 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, and you can fold them down to open up 66 cubic feet of capacity, a good figure for this class.
The 2007 Mercury Mariner's ride and handling dynamics are average as compact SUVs go. Handling around corners isn't exactly sporty, but the Mariner feels secure and its steering is responsive. Ride quality can be busy on grooved expressway pavement, but the Mariner's cabin stays quieter than the Ford Escape's. The V6 provides respectable acceleration, but the aged four-speed automatic transmission sometimes blunts its performance in passing situations. More troublesome is the cost to fuel economy, which dips into the high teens during city driving. For buyers on a budget, the 2.3-liter four-cylinder on the Mariner Convenience model may be the better bet: If you can put up with a little extra noise during hard acceleration, it offers adequate performance and higher gas mileage.
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