By KBB.com Editors
The Mercury Mariner is based on the Ford Escape, and both suffer from bodywork that comes from a time when small SUVs aped their larger counterparts. More-recently released vehicles in this class are car-like crossovers. While the Mercury Mariner and Ford Escape are mechanically identical, the Mariner is a more upscale, urban take on the small SUV. Both vehicles feature a varied powertrain lineup, with four-cylinder, V6 and hybrid power offerings. Given that the Mercury brand is being shuttered and the Escape is soon to be redesigned, small SUV buyers might be better served by the likes of the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Chevrolet Equinox, Kia Sportage or Hyundai Tucson. However, we are still fond of the Mercury Mariner's efficient hybrid model.
Buyers looking for the space and utility of a small SUV while demanding frugal fuel economy will be well served by the 2011 Mercury Mariner Hybrid.
If you regularly carry more than five passengers, look elsewhere. Some will not like the fact that there will no longer be Mercury dealers to service their Mariners, though Ford stores will fill that role.
The Mercury Mariner gets no changes for its last, short run. Ford Motor Company plans to shut down the Mercury brand by the end of 2010.
Driving Impressions The 2011 Mercury Mariner's 171-horsepower base engine provides strong low-end torque for quick starts but still records 28 miles per gallon in the government's highway driving test. The standard six-speed...automatic transmission is well matched to the engine. It's tuned for fuel economy but delivers responsive downshifts when the driver needs acceleration. Despite the looks, handling isn't truck-like and sluggish. However, it isn't as tight or as confident as more car-like competitors such as the Honda CR-V or Nissan Rouge. The electric-assist power steering system offers a responsive, natural feel while aiding fuel economy by eliminating the losses associated with a belt-driven hydraulic pump.
Reverse Sensing System
The Mercury Mariner is small for an SUV and fairly easy to maneuver in tight spaces, but it's still rather tall. This safety feature helps drivers detect unseen objects behind them.
For urban commuters, the combination of the Mariner Hybrid's 34 miles per gallon EPA rating and large interior is hard to beat.
The 2011 Mercury Mariner's interior is a step above that of the Ford Escape. While it features some nice touches, more recent Ford Motor Company cabins boast better materials. We are impressed with the available two-tone seats with Alcantara suede inserts. The "top-of-dash" display is easy to read because it's positioned at eye level. The display shows radio, climate control readout and temperatures both inside and out. The radio and climate controls are also easy to use. With its upright styling, the Mariner has plenty of room for five passengers and a useful cargo hold. The second-row seats fold down in a 60/40 split.
With its upright styling, the 2011 Mercury Mariner looks like a smaller version of a two-generations-old Ford Explorer or Mercury Mountaineer. The look is a bit softer than its Escape sibling, thanks to Mercury's signature waterfall grille. More modern crossovers sit lower and look more car-like.
The 2011 Mercury Mariner comes in three trim levels: base, the up-level Premier, and the Hybrid. Standard mechanical equipment on the base model includes a 171-horsepower, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, speed-sensitive Electric Power Assist Steering, and 16-inch alloy wheels. Amenities include fog lamps, keyless keypad entry, a four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, an auxiliary input jack, and satellite radio capability. Safety features consist of dual front airbags, Safety Canopy side-curtain airbags, tire-pressure monitor, Ford's AdvanceTrac stability control with Roll Stability Control (RSC), and anti-lock brakes, all features either specifically required by government regulations or needed to pass government tests. The up-level Mariner Premier and Mariner Hybrid get a six-disc in-dash CD player, an Audiophile sound system, a DVD-based navigation system with 10-gigabytes of hard-drive storage, MyKey, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
With a limited number of Mercury Mariners still available you probably will have little choice, but options included a power moonroof, ambient lighting, heated front seats, a six-way power driver's seat, heated side mirrors, remote start, roof rack with crossbars, a lockable wet storage compartment, integrated side steps and 17-inch wheels. Safety options consist of a rear backup camera, a Reverse Sensing System, and Active Park Assist.
The Mercury Mariner's base powerplant is a 171-horsepower, four-cylinder engine. Variable valve timing helps it achieve impressive ratings of 22 miles per gallon in the government's city driving test and 28 miles per gallon in the highway test. The available 3.0-liter V6 provides better acceleration and the ability to tow up to 3,500 pounds, but the tradeoff is rather poor fuel economy. We're impressed by the effective hybrid system, which uses a version of the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to an electric motor. The hybrid provides both plenty of pep and compact car fuel economy. Unlike its Ford Escape sibling, the Mercury Mariner doesn't offer a manual transmission.
2.5-liter in-line 4
171 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
171 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 (FWD), 20/26 (4WD)
240 horsepower @ 6550 rpm
223 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/25 (FWD, gasoline), 14/19 (FWD, E85), 18/23 (4WD, gasoline), 13/17 (4WD, E85)
2.5-liter four-cylinder with electric motor
155 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
94 horsepower @ 5000 rpm (electric motor)
136 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 34/31 (2WD), 30/27 (AWD)
By joe (NY) on Friday, December 13, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Smooth comfortable ride with good power"
Cons: "average to below average gas mileage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Great car. Very smooth and comfortable ride. Plenty of cargo space, and great power. The only draw back is it doesn't get great gas mileage."
By Chaz (CA) on Wednesday, October 23, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Never any problems although we didn't use it that much. Took it on two long 7 hour plus trips - comfortable. If your buying one used - would recommend."
By Army.wife.ally (MI) on Saturday, September 07, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 77,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Amazing hands free capability. Very spacious and comfy. Nice tan leather interior with heated driver and passenger seats. I adore my 2010 mariner"
By Willy (KS) on Tuesday, May 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,800overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Nice RED color"
Cons: "cheap car and it behaves like one."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Very cheaply built. barely painted to edge of body panels. thin, flimsy floor mats, headliner material barely strectched to edges. only 40K miles and ignition switch is worn out, rack & pinion sticks, can't keep tires quiet unless you rotate them at every gas fillup. 4-cyl engine is noisy and vibrates so bad the hood shakes at idle. if you must buy one of these, get a V-6--the extra fuel is worth it"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By TAB (OH) on Thursday, May 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Excellent gas milage, ride and overall vehicle."
Cons: "Not being made any longer."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The 2011 Mariner was and is an excellent vehicle. Average combined milage is around 25 mpg. Excellent for a powerful V6. No issues after the transmission was programed correctly. I would buy a new Mariner if there was such a vehicle."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Plainsman (CO) on Wednesday, April 10, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "good handling, good traction, nice exterior"
Cons: "transmission cold performance, interior, SYNC"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I have the base model plus V6, AWD, Sun & Sync as major options. I like the exterior looks and the Tuxedo Black finish. The acceleration is brisk whether from a standing start or while passing on the highway. With 87 octane E10 gasoline I get 23 mpg (mostly highway miles.) The interior generally looks fine but the seats are not that comfortable. Dislikes: flimsy, cheap sun visors don't stay in place; 6-spd. auto. trans. slams into 3rd gear when cold and accelerating to 50 mph; silver finish on hard plastic areas of interior shows wear easily, SYNC does not always reconnect reliably."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful