2003 Mercury Mountaineer Review
2003 Mercury Mountaineer Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
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- Independent rear suspension, comfortable seating for up to seven, strong powertrains, available rollover protection system, DVD entertainment system.
- Not available with Explorer's optional stability control system, some cheap interior materials.
The Mountaineer comes in three different versions for 2003: Convenience, Luxury and Premier. Mercury has added standard equipment this year, including security approach lamps, automatic headlamps, dual illuminated visor vanity mirrors, heated exterior mirrors and power-adjustable pedals. Luxury models receive color-keyed running boards and an Audiophile sound system as standard, and Premier adds to that a power sunroof and a Security Group that includes a Safety Canopy system of head airbags and rollover protection sensors bundled with a reverse-sensing system. Inside, Mountaineers get new trim for the doors and dash, a three-point seatbelt for the center of the second-row bench and an easy entry/exit system for the third-row seat. Luxury and Premier models can be outfitted with a new DVD entertainment system for the rear seats and a tire pressure monitoring system. A leather-upholstered center console cover is added and leather is a no-charge option for Luxury and Premier models.
Stylish and safe, the Mercury Mountaineer is the more distinctive looking of Ford's midsize SUV twins.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2003 Mercury Mountaineer Convenience Rwd 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.12 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$240/mo for Mountaineer Convenience
Avg. Midsize SUV
Introduction: During the SUV boom of the mid-1990s, Ford realized it could sell more high-profit, luxury-laden Explorers if they were badged as Mercurys. Thus, the Mountaineer was created for 1997. Like most other Mercurys, this SUV was a restyled, repackaged version of the Ford, with unique front and rear styling and slightly different equipment.
The Mountaineer has been a modest sales success. It also managed to escape the Explorer rollover debacle of 2001 relatively unscathed, positioning it nicely for sales success with the 2002 redesign.
As the Mountaineer is virtually identical to the Explorer in terms of hardware, your choice between the two essentially comes down to styling. The Mountaineer is a slick-looking truck, but the more pedestrian Explorer offers a wider range of models and versatility.
Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options: The Mountaineer comes in three flavors: Convenience, Luxury and Premier. Convenience is already well-equipped, and Luxury models receive 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, dual-zone automatic climate control, power adjustable pedals and an Audiophile sound system as standard. Premier adds to that a power sunroof and a Security Group that includes a Safety Canopy system.
Notable options include an available DVD-based entertainment system for rear-seat passengers and a tire pressure monitoring system. Both are available on Luxury and Premier models only. Powertrains and Performance: Like the Explorer, the standard powertrain is a 4.0-liter single overhead cam V6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels. This engine makes 210 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. A 4.6-liter V8 is optional, rated to make 239 horsepower and 282 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is available with either engine. Properly equipped, a Mountaineer is able to tow up to 7,300 pounds. Safety: Mercury includes many safety features on the Mountaineer. ABS-equipped disc brakes and power adjustable pedals are standard on all models, while the Premier trim adds a reverse-sensing system and a Safety Canopy System of head airbags and rollover protection sensors. A tire pressure monitoring system is optional on Premier models, and a Security Group including the reverse-sensing system and Safety Canopy System can be added to Convenience and Luxury models. However, the Mountaineer cannot be equipped with a stability control system, like its twin, the Ford Explorer.
In crash tests conducted by the NHTSA, the Mountaineer received a four-star rating for the driver and a five-star rating for the front passenger. Side impact crash test results are not available for this truck. This SUV receives a three-star rating for rollover tendency, which is better than average for this type of vehicle. In IIHS offset crash testing, the Mountaineer gets a "Good" rating and is called a "Best Pick." Interior Design and Special Features: The interior is simple and straightforward in design, with room for seven adults and comfortable seats that offer a commanding view outward. Some controls are placed in odd locations and are difficult to use, and the materials used in cabin construction sometimes don't impart quality. A DVD-powered entertainment system is a new option this year, and, unlike the Explorer, the Mountaineer comes standard with a third-row seat. Driving Impressions: More softly tuned than the Explorer, the Mountaineer is designed to spend far more of its time on the pavement than on the dirt. The independent rear suspension gives the Mountaineer a firmly buttoned-down ride and keeps the tires in contact with the road surface even on rough bumps. Either engine is powerful enough to keep up with traffic, but the V8 is more refined and offers more grunt off the line. Handling is excellent, predictable and stable in corners and higher speed turns. The all-wheel-drive system works well, but the Explorer's Control Trac 4WD system is just as effective.
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4.25 out of 5 stars
Tough Truck for a V6
2003 Mercury Mountaineer Premier AWD 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
I bought my Mountaineer used with 40,000 miles on it. Other than a crack on the liftgate it was in great shape. I've always driven my vehicles hard and I can say for just being a 4.0L it is a workhorse. I've hauled thousands of pounds of supplies behind it in a trailer, driven off-road,done a few donuts, you name it. I bought it out of pure necessity having a third child on the way. This … is my grocery/camping/work/family vehicle. I love the sound system and leather seats and 17 inch wheels. It handles great and has good power for passing. It has 109,000 miles now and all I've had to replace was an alternator. I also nailed a deer at about 50 mph and virtually no damage. I have no regrets.
4.5 out of 5 stars
The Good and not so good
2003 Mercury Mountaineer Luxury AWD 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
The Comfort, looks and performance are Great. The Problems are few but Should be weeded out by the Mercury engineers: 1) I purchased this SUV new and have the towing package but have never used it yet the 2 rear springs are broken. Never overloaded it either. Can't figure out why/how this happened. 2) Rear tailgate has a plastic body part with Mercury emblem on it. It cracked even though … there was no accident. Heard of other owners having same problem. Why did/does this happen? 3) Power windows freeze up in winter will not work until they are thawed out. Overall I like this SUV. It's a pleasure to drive. Hopeful that some Mercury People will see my remarks here and find solutions
4.88 out of 5 stars
Never Had A More Reliable Vehicle...
2003 Mercury Mountaineer Premier AWD 4dr SUV (4.6L 8cyl 5A)
I have owned and driven anything from a Hummer H2 to a Ford Escape, to an Acura MDX and I praise Ford's engineers for the work put into this SUV. I own a 2003 Mountaineer Premier AWD V8 with stock GoodYear Fortera HL tires and this truck performs incredibly. I have a heavy foot and the 4.6L V8 suits my every need. I own a 21 foot boat and the towing abilities are great! Also, being in NC … means I enjoy the Outer Banks where I regularly take to the sandy beaches and have NEVER gotten stuck. Even without the Explorer's AdvanceTrac traction control, the Mountaineer's full-time All Wheel Drive performs admirably in virtually any situation. I simply love this truck... 200000+ miles and no issues!!
4.63 out of 5 stars
Love my Mountaineer
2003 Mercury Mountaineer Convenience AWD 4dr SUV (4.0L 6cyl 5A)
I mostly use my Mountaineer for commuting, but have taken a couple of long trips, and love it for both. Things I love: comfort, turning radius, quality, sound system, ease of handling, reliability, ease of maintainence, and runs on regular grade fuel. My former cars were a Mercedes and BMW, and this is more comfortable, reliable, and economical to maintain than either. The paint … doesn't chip or fade, and always looks great. 2 people have bumped into me and caused damage to their cars but no damage to mine. It's great going up mountains such as the Sierras. There are so many little well-thought out details. I have no complaints.
2003 Mountaineer Highlights
|Engine Type||Flex-fuel (ffv)|
|Combined MPG||16 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$240/month|
|Drivetrain||rear wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
NHTSA Overall Rating
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverallNot RatedDriver4 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverallNot Rated
- Side Barrier RatingOverallNot RatedDriver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront SeatNot RatedBack SeatNot Rated
- RolloverRollover2 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of RolloverNot Rated
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestNot Tested
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestNot Tested
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintNot Tested