What's New for 2007
There are just a handful of changes on the 2007 Mercury Mountaineer. Most notably, side curtain airbags and an audio auxiliary input jack are standard on all models. A heated windshield is optional across the line, and the available rear entertainment system gets a larger 8-inch screen. Trim levels are simplified from three to two (base and Premier). Drivetrain warranty coverage increases to five years/60,000 miles.
Although it's one of the more practical midsize SUVs on the market, the Mercury Mountaineer has always lived in the shadow of its more popular twin, Ford's Explorer. It has all the main virtues of its sibling -- a roomy, functional interior well-stocked with storage areas, a fold-flat third-row seat that allows it to seat up to seven, and the availability of V6 or V8 power -- but offers more dramatic and unusual styling inside and out. The other key difference is the Mercury's lack of a traditional 4WD system with low-range gearing. Instead, buyers can choose either rear-wheel drive (2WD) or a street-oriented all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. For regular off-roaders, this might be a limitation, but if seeking out an obscure antique shop is your idea of venturing off the beaten path, the all-wheel-drive Mercury Mountaineer should meet your needs easily.
The Mountaineer received its last full redesign for 2002, but the 2006 model year brought substantial changes to Mercury's midsize sport-ute, including a rigid new frame, a new rear suspension and a new steering system. All these updates were intended to make the Mountaineer easier to manage on pavement, and after driving it, our editors confirmed that it does indeed have some of the best road manners of any truck-based SUV. Another major development was the arrival of a new 24-valve V8 engine with significantly more horsepower and torque -- 292 horsepower and 300 pound-feet versus 239 hp and 282 lb-ft with the old V8. This new engine was paired with a new six-speed automatic transmission, a rarity in this price range.
Designers also gave the interior a once-over, transforming the Mountaineer's utilitarian confines into a more stylish and modern environment. Unfortunately, they also designed some of the least ergonomic interior door handles we've ever encountered. On the plus side, increased cabin insulation resulted in a much quieter ride than before, while new seats provide head restraints for all passengers, as well as better overall support.
The 2007 Mercury Mountaineer is one of the stronger players in the midsize SUV segment. It's certainly worth considering if you're looking at candidates like the Buick Rainier, Chrysler Aspen, Jeep Grand Cherokee/Commander, Nissan Pathfinder or Toyota 4Runner. The Mercury is not as fast or rugged as most of its competitors, but it offers the most comfortable accommodations in the second and third rows. This, along with its extensive menu of standard safety features and solid crash test scores, makes it a good bet for family-minded buyers.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
A midsize SUV, the 2007 Mercury Mountaineer comes in base and Premier trim levels. Base models seat five and include plenty of equipment, including 17-inch machined aluminum wheels, leather upholstery, a 10-way power driver seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, a CD stereo with an input jack for MP3 players, cruise control, full power accessories, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a trip computer. Mountaineer Premier models add a power-folding third-row seat for seven-passenger capacity and come with additional features like 18-inch satin-finish chrome wheels, leather/suede upholstery, a power front-passenger seat, first-row seat heaters, reclining second-row seats, an upgraded audio system with an in-dash CD changer, a separate rear air-conditioner and heated mirrors with approach lamps.
Notable options include a moonroof, an entertainment system for rear-seat passengers, a navigation system, satellite radio, power-deploying running boards, roof rack crossbars and a Class III towing package. Mountaineers with a third-row seat are eligible for second-row captain's chairs, which drop passenger capacity to six.
Powertrains and Performance
The standard engine is a 4.0-liter V6 good for 210 hp and 254 lb-ft of torque. An optional 4.6-liter V8 is rated for 292 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard with the V6, while the V8 comes with a six-speed unit. Both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are available with either engine. Properly equipped, a Mercury Mountaineer can tow up to 7220 pounds. An all-wheel-drive, V8-equipped Mountaineer takes about 8.3 seconds to reach 60 mph. This is a respectable number, but competitors like the 4Runner and Rainier are considerably quicker. Fuel economy ratings are about the same regardless of the drivetrain configuration you choose -- 14-15 mpg in the city, 20-21 mpg on the highway.
All major safety features come standard, including four-wheel antilock disc brakes, a tire-pressure monitor and the AdvanceTrac stability control system, which has a Roll Stability Control feature that uses a gyro sensor to calculate the SUV's roll speed and angle. If the system determines a rollover is imminent, AdvanceTrac takes corrective action to help avoid it. Airbag coverage includes front seat-mounted side airbags and first- and second-row side curtain airbags.
Reverse parking sensors are standard on the Premier model but not available on the base Mountaineer. Power-adjustable pedals with memory are optional on all models. The 2007 Mercury Mountaineer fared quite well in crash tests, earning a perfect five stars across the board in all NHTSA frontal- and side-impact tests. It also earned the top rating of "Good" in frontal-offset crash testing conducted by the IIHS.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Mountaineer's two-tone interior offers an effective blend of style and functionality, with room for five, six or seven passengers, depending on how you equip it. You'll find some low-grade materials here and there, but overall, the cabin is attractive and solidly constructed. Two adults can ride in the third-row seats on short trips, and children will be content sitting back there. Choosing the third-row option slightly reduces the available cargo space. Seven-passenger Mountaineers max out at 83.7 cubic feet of cargo space, while five-passenger versions offer 85.8 cubic feet.
More softly tuned than the Explorer, the 2007 Mercury Mountaineer is designed to spend far more of its time on the pavement than on dirt. A four-wheel independent suspension gives the Mountaineer a firmly buttoned-down ride and keeps the tires in contact with the road surface even over rough bumps. Generous cabin insulation results in a highway ride that's as quiet as it is comfortable. Handling is excellent, as the Mercury feels predictable and stable in corners and higher-speed turns. Either engine is powerful enough to keep up with traffic, though the V8 is more refined and offers more grunt off the line. Competitors' V8s feel stronger still, though.