2008 Mercury Mariner SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Mercury Mariner SUV

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Mercury Mariner Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.0 L V 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 4-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 200 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 17/22 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2008 Mercury Mariner

  • A restyled body and interior may keep the 2008 Mercury Mariner fresh for a little while longer, but its driving dynamics are stale compared to newer rivals in the compact SUV segment.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Comfortable interior, impressive list of standard safety features.

  • Cons

    Lackluster performance, braking and fuel efficiency compared to rivals, folding down rear seat a multistep process.

  • What's New for 2008

    The 2008 Mercury Mariner gets a makeover inside and out. A more aggressive attitude marks the exterior design, and the cabin is more attractive and functional. The chassis and powertrain are virtually unchanged, however, meaning this "redesigned" Mariner has the same running gear as before.

Full 2008 Mercury Mariner Review

What's New for 2008

The 2008 Mercury Mariner gets a makeover inside and out. A more aggressive attitude marks the exterior design, and the cabin is more attractive and functional. The chassis and powertrain are virtually unchanged, however, meaning this "redesigned" Mariner has the same running gear as before.


Something of an anomaly in the marketplace, the compact but upscale Mercury Mariner SUV gets a not-so extreme makeover for 2008. The Mariner debuted three years ago as a more luxurious version of Ford's Escape. And like its relative, the Mariner's "top-half" revamping for this year means new sheet metal and a revised interior but no significant revisions to the chassis or running gear.

The changes in the looks department include a bolder grille, taller beltline and higher hood, all of which give this junior sport-ute a more aggressive curbside presence. Inside, the changes are more functional, including such touches as a multifunction display at the top center of the dash and cool blue instrument lighting. To promote a quieter cabin, the new Mariner features an acoustic laminate within the windshield, a redesigned roof panel and thicker carpeting.

Unfortunately, these changes might not be enough to keep the 2008 Mercury Mariner competitive in the small-SUV class. In past years, we praised the Mariner for its relatively roomy (for four) cabin, sporty driving dynamics and peppy performance, but new and more modern competitors now surpass it in many areas.

For example, the Mariner's 200-horsepower V6, although generally energetic, has its efforts hampered by an outdated four-speed automatic gearbox. The result is a double whammy of now so-so acceleration (zero to 60 mph in about 10 seconds) and mediocre fuel economy. Nearly all of its competitors now have five- or even six-speed transmissions that do a better job of keeping their engines on their toes while providing higher fuel mileage. The quicker SUVs in this class dash to 60 mph in less than 8 seconds.

A more serious disappointment concerns the Mariner's braking. For some reason, all 2008 Mariners except the V6 AWD version have reverted to rear drum brakes (they formerly had discs all around) and braking performance suffers. In our testing of a similar Escape with rear drums, the best stop from 60 mph took 154 feet — about 25 feet longer than average.

Although the Mariner has been a favorite of ours in the past, this year's mostly cosmetic changes aren't enough to keep it in the fast-moving compact SUV game. In short, the 2008 Mercury Mariner is eclipsed by recently revamped and more competent rivals such as the Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander and Toyota RAV4 and we recommend that you try them before buying a Mariner.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2008 Mercury Mariner is a compact four-door SUV that comes in three trim levels: base inline-4, base V6 and Premier. The base Mariners come with 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, privacy glass, air-conditioning, a four-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary MP3 player input, full power accessories and keyless entry. The Premier model adds rear parking sensors, leather/Alcantara upholstery, a power driver seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, an in-dash CD changer and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Options include 17-inch wheels, a moonroof, an upgraded 320-watt audio system with a subwoofer, a DVD-based navigation system, satellite radio and heated front seats. Class II towing preparation is also available, and buyers who stick with the standard 16-inch wheels can opt for a full-size spare tire.

Powertrains and Performance

All versions of the Mercury Mariner can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive. A 2.3-liter inline-4 rated for 153 hp and 152 pound-feet of torque powers the base Mariner. The base V6 and Premier models come with a 3.0-liter V6 good for 200 hp and 193 lb-ft of torque. Both engines come with a four-speed automatic transmission. Properly equipped, the V6 Mariner can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

A V6 Mariner isn't exactly slow, but its 10-second 0-60-mph time is bested by many rivals, a few of them powered by four-cylinder engines. Additionally, throttle tip-in can be abrupt, requiring a concerted effort to enact a smooth takeoff. Fuel economy with the V6 is also below average: Our experience has shown that V6 Mariners typically return mileage in the high teens, which is consistent with the adjusted EPA ratings for 2008 -- 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway for front-drive V6 models and 17/22 for AWD models.


Antilock brakes, a tire-pressure monitor, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length head curtain airbags with a rollover sensor are all standard on the 2008 Mercury Mariner. A reverse-sensing parking system comes with the Premier. Safety scores have not been published as of this writing but we expect them to be similar to those of the '07 model.

Interior Design and Special Features

Impressive fit and finish are evident in the Mercury Mariner's five-passenger cabin. A center console box big enough to swallow a laptop also features removable bins that can be attached to the front passenger side and rear of the console. Satin-finish metallic accents and available two-tone leather seating give the interior an upscale feel. The front seats are well bolstered and comfortable, but the rear seat, although roomy, has flat cushions and offers no recline or fore/aft adjustments. Folding that seat down is a chore, too, as the headrests must be removed and the bottom cushions tipped forward before the seatbacks can be flipped down. Cargo space stands at 29 cubic feet behind the second row and 66 cubes with the second row folded down.

Driving Impressions

The 2008 Mercury Mariner's new electric power-steering system delivers surprisingly good road feel and response. Overall, handling is respectable, with the compact SUV remaining flat through corners and composed in quick transitions. Sadly, the ride quality is more trucklike than carlike. Although the Mariner's suspension absorbs larger bumps without drama, smaller road imperfections can make it feel busy. Brake pedal feel is firm and reassuring, but Mariners with rear drum brakes (all except V6 AWD model) return dismal stopping distances.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Not too bad after 128k

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Vehicle: 2008 Mercury Mariner Premier 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 4A)

My wife bought this car in 2010 with 81k miles. She bought the extended warranty but I believe only needed it at around 115k miles for an oil pan leak. Today at 128k miles the radiator coolant fans have quit running. Ford dealer quoted me $750 parts & labor but I had done my research and found fans for $100 less at O'Reillys. They honored the price and dropped cost to $650. Getting it fixed today. Over all this has been a reliable and safe car. Great to drive in the snow with the all wheel drive. Gets about 22-24mpg on the highway and about 17-18 in town. I can't speak to the tranny issues many mention, but it may have been fixed before we bought it.


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Vehicle: 2008 Mercury Mariner Premier 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 4A)

I have bought and paid for a 2008 Mercury Mariner, and on the day I made that last payment...my 2008 Mercury Mariner literally started to fall apart! From the "torque converter" to the cigarette lighter...you name it, and there's a problem...of which I see thousands of complaints online, yet no recalls, or any attempts by your company to right these wrongs your company has done by knowingly selling faulty products, and doing absolutely nothing about repairing these problems after you've taken the money! I swear, I will NEVER purchase an american product (not only cars, but anything with "made in U.S.A." on it) in my life. It's no wonder the american car companies folded to the foreigners!

Excellent after 100,000 miles

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Vehicle: 2008 Mercury Mariner 4dr SUV (2.3L 4cyl 4A)

Bought my Mariner new in June 2008, trading in an '02 Escape w/ 150,000 miles on it. Now at 100,000 miles, the Mariner has had no problems. Avg. 26-29 mpg. "Hassle" of folding down back seats is nonexistent: requires 30 seconds. No big deal. Replaced noisy OEM Continental tires with Goodyear Assurance tires, and little, if any, road noise can be heard. Like the leather seats and moonroof. 1st gen. 4-cylinder, 4-spd auto trans. work well; I don't miss additional cubes or gears. Pop-open rear window very handy. Upscale ambience nice. Never experienced trans.-coolant leakage; recalled before any problems experienced. Seats very comfortable for all-day drives between Dallas and St. Louis.


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Vehicle: 2008 Mercury Mariner Premier 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 4A)

I had to participate in the recall on the transmission a couple years ago after having my car less than a year. Today I go to start it and the transmission is completely out! Never again will I buy a Ford. The customer service is horrible and of course the new transmission issue has nothing to do with them.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Very poor gas mileage

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Vehicle: 2008 Mercury Mariner 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl 4A)

I traded my 2006 Kia Sorento in for the 2008 Mariner this past July. The Mariner was very stylish and offered newer accessories like heated seats and the back up warning system. Initially when I filled my tank up the mileage meter would read "320 miles to empty". But since my first oil change at the dealer this figure has steadily decreased to the point where today it read "227 miles to empty". How on earth could the fuel efficiency drop from 320 to 227 miles like that???? When I fill the tank I generally add between 11-12 gallons so that isn't the issue. VERY disappointed! With the high cost of gas today, such poor fuel economy is just unacceptable. Wish I could get my Kia back! :-(

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

Bad transmission

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Vehicle: 2008 Mercury Mariner 4dr SUV (3.0L 6cyl 4A)

I bought a brand new 2008 Mercury Mariner from Malloy Auto Mall in Woodbridge, VA. In 2009 the transmission starting skipping gears. Took it to the shop, it was fixed under warranty. 2010 took it back to the shop for the transmission again. Not covered by warranty. Cost over $800 to fix. Jump forward to 2011, took it back to the shop, for what you ask? The transmission again. This $2235 to fix it. Ford refuses to do anything about it. DO NOT BUY THIS VEHICLE. I wish I would have read other reviews before I purchased. I will never buy another for vehicle. Don't take my word. Read other reviews and see the same problem I have.

Talk About The 2008 Mariner

2008 Mercury Mariner Discussions See all Started By

Alright people, try to help me out here...my girlfriend owns a 2008 Mercury Mariner Premier with a V6 engine...had to add that my girlfriend owns it because I would never own a vehicle made by ford du...

My tank will stop filling and the gauge registers only about 3/4 full, never to the fill line any longer. The other gauges tell me I have about 220 miles until empty, so I am not getting the same amou...

I bought a 2007 Mercury Mariner in 2006. In March of 2008 the transmission had to be fixed under warranty, 20,000 miles. The car was exhibiting the same problems as the recall which is not a recall ...

Gas Mileage


  • 17
  • cty
  • 22
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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