The 2003 Mercury Marauder started out as a good idea -- on paper. The concept was to recreate a Sixties-style muscle car on the foundation of a full-size, body-on-frame, rear-wheel-drive sedan, much like Chevrolet did when it fashioned the sporty Impala SS from the humdrum Caprice. In this case, Mercury started with the Grand Marquis, a big and boring sedan with perhaps the oldest and most conservative buyer demographics in the business, and finished with an overly loud, albeit muted-looking crossbreed that would seem to have little appeal to the current Mercury clientele -- nor to any but a limited group of 50-something males who would never consider spending $35,000 on an import. And why didn't they call it a Ford instead of a Mercury? He: I actually liked nearly everything about the Marauder concept except the fact of its Mercury badging, which doesn't make much sense to me. Now that I've driven the car, I have to admit I'm more than disappointed with the execution, too. I could get past the Grand Marquis's stodgy image and heritage if this car had more of the personality of the original Marauders from the Sixties. But everything from the chrome five-spoke wheels to the plasticky interior trim to the raucous dual-exhaust note seems out of place on the new Marauder. It just doesn't feel authentic. Mercury would have been more honest to call it the Pretender. She: I don't know what you'd call it other than an old man's idea of a young man's car. Most of the women I talked to have a very visceral and negative reaction to the Marauder. I heard comments like "depressing" and "old-looking" from several people. That all-black motif looks sinister, not uplifting. To me, the whole idea of the Marauder as a car aimed almost exclusively at males makes as much sense as a pink car for women. He: You're going to rile up all those Mary Kay saleswomen with that kind of talk. She: And I hate those leather seats. I couldn't stand the little-girl feeling of sliding around, like the Edith Ann character in the old Lily Tomlin routine. He: Apart from the wheels, which really look anachronistic, and the faux carbon-fiber interior trim, I like the stealth black-on-black appearance of the car. And, boy, do people get out of your way on the expressway. I had the impression that many of them thought they were looking at a plain-clothes police car in their rear-view mirrors and immediately pulled over to let the Marauder by. But that sort of cheap entertainment wears thin quickly -- especially when you encounter some rough pavement or lots of curvy roads. The Marauder betrays its pedestrian underpinnings then. The suspension feels overly bouncy and harsh on anything but really smooth roads, and despite the addition of a "performance handling package" with variable-assist power steering, the Marauder still handles more like a Bayliner cabin cruiser than it does a true performance car. She: If you measure safety as a component of performance, the Marauder ranks pretty high. It comes with such standard features as antilock brakes, side air bags and power adjustable pedals, which are really useful for shorter drivers. I was kind of surprised that Ford does not offer traction control on the rear-wheel-drive Marauder. I can just imagine trying to back this car out of your driveway on a snowy or icy winter morning, let alone trying to negotiate any slick roads. That seems like a major oversight. He: I have some other problems with the Marauder, not the least of which is the promise, or shall we say the failure to deliver on the promise. Ford fits the car with a modified version of the corporate 4.6-liter V-8, which makes 302 horsepower and 318 pounds-feet of torque. The engine is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. Initially, you get the impression that the Marauder is quick off the line. In fact, you'll lose more than a few 0-60 sprints to much smaller, quicker and cheaper cars. The bottom line is that the Marauder is simply not as fast as it looks or sounds -- but maybe that was Mercury's intent. She: I still can't imagine who's going to buy the Marauder, especially with a base sticker of $34,495, including destination. Are there really 20,000 middle-age guys out there who are lusting for an overpriced, oversize tank with slippery seats, sloppy steering, a bouncy suspension and a loud exhaust system? He: It didn't take Chevy long to figure out it couldn't sell enough Impala SS sedans to keep the car in production. I'll be surprised if this disappointing reincarnation of the Marauder lasts much longer. 2003 Mercury Marauder Anita's rating: (Subpar) Paul's rating: (Acceptable) Likes: Cavernous cabin, but seats only five. Retro cop-car styling (Paul). Good standard safety features. Decent straight-line power. Optional $200 trunk organizer. Dislikes: Depressing, unsettling looks (Anita). Slide around too much in those slippery leather seats (Anita). Extreme macho image turns off most women. Not as fast as it looks or sounds. Bouncy, harsh ride. Handles like a Bayliner cabin cruiser. Type: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive, five-passenger full-size sedan. Price: Base, $33,790; as tested, $35,045 (inc. $705 destination charge). Engine: 4.6-liter V-8; 302-hp; 318 lb-ft torque. EPA fuel economy: 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway. 12-month insurance cost, estimated by AAA Michigan: $1,434 (Rates may be higher or lower, depending on coverage and driving record.) Where built: St. Thomas, Ontario
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Jim Flammang||Cars.com National||December 9, 2002|
|Warren Brown||washingtonpost.com||November 21, 2002|
|Bob Golfen||AZCentral.com||October 26, 2002|
|Anita And Paul Lienert||The Detroit News||October 9, 2002|
|Larry Printz||The Morning Call and Mcall.com||September 29, 2002|
|Royal Ford||Boston.com||September 22, 2002|
|Warren Brown||washingtonpost.com||August 4, 2002|
|Matt Nauman||TheMercuryNews.com||July 26, 2002|
|Tom Strongman||KansasCity.com||July 3, 2002|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||June 2, 2002|
Closest Dealers Listing this Car
Featured Services for the Mercury Marauder
- Sell your current car quickly and easily on Cars.com.
*Invoice prices are made available by Cars.com and are not dealer advertising. All prices are subject to regional variations. Prices last updated 9/23/10. Click here for more information.