For 2008, Mariner Hybrids share the same exterior and interior redesign as the standard Mariner, but hybrid-specific components have been updated to make the transition between electric and gasoline modes less noticeable. The Mariner Hybrid is now available in front- as well as all-wheel drive.
The 2008 Mariner has a much bolder presence than the outgoing model, as the compact SUV received its first major redesign since its launch as a 2005 model. The 2008 has new, squared-off bodywork, as well as improvements to combat road and engine noise.
The Mariner has ditched its plastic side cladding, resulting in a smoother appearance. The front and rear fascias have been treated to an edgy (as in shape, not ground-breaking) redesign, giving the Mariner a beefier appearance accented by new headlights and taillights.
The roof has been tweaked with recessed channels to help reduce wind noise at higher speeds. New-for-2008 colors include Kiwi, Light Ice Blue and Black Pearle Slate.
The optional navigation system with a 6.5-inch screen can also play DVDs; a 330-watt stereo with a six-disc changer is included in the navigation package. An auxiliary jack that supports MP3 players is standard on all Mariners.
Mariner Hybrids equipped with navigation get a system monitor that displays power flow between the electric motor and gasoline engine, as well as charging status during braking and cruising.
Satin finishes and chrome accents surround the interior, which has a new dashboard layout and new seats for 2008. The radio and climate controls now sit flush with the center console.
The interior has been updated with features that help reduce road and wind noise, including a redesigned windshield, thicker floor carpet, a sound-insulating headliner and thicker side windows.
Under the Hood
The hybrid uses a four-cylinder engine that makes 133 horsepower, teamed with a 22-hp electric motor that kicks in during heavy acceleration. The only transmission available on the hybrid is a continuously variable automatic transmission.
Mercury says the regenerative brakes, which charge the battery during braking, now provide a better feel. Also updated is the computer software that transitions from electric to gasoline mode. Front-wheel-drive Mariner Hybrids get an estimated 34/30 mpg city/highway, while the all-wheel-drive model is estimated at 29/27.
All Mariners now come with electric power steering, replacing the old hydraulic system that operated off the engine's belt. The advantage to electric power steering is that it reduces drag on the engine, resulting in better gas mileage.
Side-impact and side curtain airbags, as well as antilock brakes, are standard.
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