By KBB.com Editors
Compared to the somewhat rugged look of the Ford Escape, the Mercury Mariner, which was redesigned for 2008 with new sheetmetal and a fresh interior, offers more of an upscale, urban appeal. Although the two vehicles are mechanically identical, the 2008 Mariner's exterior clearly sets it apart from the Escape in both looks and image. Among its strong points is the powertrain line-up, with an economical four-cylinder, an optional V6 and an available Hybrid version. The Mariner is a worthy alternative to the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Saturn VUE, and could be well worth the price for those looking for a compact SUV with unique styling and an available hybrid powertrain.You'll Like This Car If...
If you're in the market for a small SUV and would like the option of a V6 engine or hybrid powertrain, and with more refined styling than the Ford Escape, the 2008 Mercury Mariner would be worth a look.You May Not Like This Car If...
The 2008 Mercury Mariner is somewhat lacking in interior space, especially when considering a third-row option as is available with the Toyota RAV4. Cargo space is also limited, even with the seats folded, making hauling large objects an issue. Also, those looking for a Mercury vehicle with the new SYNC hands-free communication and entertainment system will not find it in the Mariner.What's New for 2008
The 2008 Mercury Mariner receives an all-new look including new front and rear fascias, headlamps, taillamps and Mercury's signature waterfall grille. On the inside, the Mariner has new seats, center console, door trim panels and Ice Blue lighting for the instrument panel.Driving It Driving Impressions
On our test drive the V6 engine in the 2008 Mercury Mariner provided decent torque for getting on the freeway and the electric power steering had good feedback. Cabin noise was minimal and the "top-of-dash" display proved to be easy to read, giving all the important information, including the interior climate and radio station settings, without the driver having to look all over the dashboard while going down the road. The ride was comfortable, which can be attributed in part to the premium leather seats with Alcantara suede inserts, and the optional navigation system was easy to use and follow.Favorite Features
Reverse Sensing System
Although the Mariner is small and easy to maneuver in tight parking situations, this feature is still very helpful for peace of mind.
AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control
Other vehicles in its class offer a stability system, but the Mariner's AdvanceTrac uses a secondary roll-rate sensor, along with automatically and selectively applying the brakes and reducing engine power, to help reduce the chances of a roll-over.
The biggest change in the 2008 Mercury Mariner is the interior, which includes new seats, door panels, center console and a floor-mounted shifter. Depending on the trim level, the seats are available in a monochromatic color scheme or two-toned with Alcantara suede inserts. The standard "top-of-dash" display, which shows the radio functions, climate control readout and temperatures both inside and out, promotes safety and convenience by being positioned at eye level. The radio and climate controls are arranged in what Mercury calls the new "poke through" configuration; the buttons and knobs are raised rather than flush, replacing the "brick" design from the previous generation.Exterior
The 2008 Mercury Mariner benefits from a redesigned exterior including bolder front and rear fascias, new head and taillamps and a signature waterfall grille that has bigger spacing between the bars. The new roof panel has recessed channels that reduce noise in the cabin as well as horizontal ribbing that strengthens the chassis.Notable Standard Equipment
In base form, the 2008 Mercury Mariner comes standard with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, four-speed automatic transmission, 16-inch alloy wheels, speed-sensitive Electric Power Assist Steering system, Ford's AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control (RSC), Safety Canopy side-curtain airbags, remote keyless entry, auxiliary input jack, satellite radio-ready single-CD player with MP3 and four speakers and the Reverse Sensing System that is standard on the Premiere trim but optional on the Hybrid.Notable Optional Equipment
Options vary by trim but include an Audiophile 320-watt sound system with DVD-based navigation, a six-disc in-dash CD player, moonroof, premium leather seating, 17-inch wheels, roof rack with crossbars, a lockable wet storage compartment, heated front seats, integrated side steps and a full-size spare.Under the Hood
Those looking for decent gas mileage will be pleased with either the four-cylinder or the hybrid powertrain, but if power for passing highway traffic and towing moderate trailers (up to 3,500 pounds) is needed, then the V6 should be your engine of choice, which is an option not all of its competitors offer. Unlike its Ford twin, the Mariner does not offer a manual transmission.
2.3-liter in-line four
153 horsepower @ 5800 rpm
152 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/26 (2WD), 19/24 (AWD)
200 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
193 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4850 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24 (2WD), 17/22 (AWD)
2.3-liter four-cylinder with electric motor
133 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
124 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 34/30 (2WD), 29/27 (AWD)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the two-wheel drive, four- cylinder Mariner is around $22,000, while the four-wheel drive Premier trim starts at around $27,000 and can reach up to $33,000 when loaded with options. The Hybrid trims start at about $28,000 for the two-wheel-drive version and around $30,000 for four-wheel drive. Fair Purchase Price shows real-world transaction prices in your area, so be sure to check it out before you begin negotiating price and click the incentives tab to see any dealer incentives being offered. Kelley Blue Book expects the 2008 Mercury Mariner to hold an average resale value that is on par with the Saturn VUE, but far lower than those of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.