Don't expect massive modifications to the 2006 version of Mercury's Mountaineer sport utility vehicle. Nevertheless, the SUV gets exterior refinements and an all-new interior. Available power running boards are integrated into the rocker panels. The Mountaineer and the closely related Ford Explorer have body-on-frame construction; both models were last fully redesigned for the 2002 model year.
The top Mountaineer engine is now a 292-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8 with three valves per cylinder; it drives a six-speed-automatic transmission. In 2005, the available V-8 developed 239 hp.
Mercury says the Mountaineer has a stiffer frame with a revised front suspension and an all-new trailing-arm independent rear suspension. The brakes are bigger than before. The standard AdvanceTrac electronic stability system features Roll Stability Control. A DVD-based navigation system is available for the first time.
The center bumper section that sits directly below the signature waterfall grille displays a new satin-aluminum finish. Mercury says the front fascia and rectangular headlights suggest a subtle evolution in the company's design direction, with an emphasis on the vertically stacked front-end elements. Side cladding also is new.
The mirrors have a chamfered lower inside edge. A new liftgate is installed, and the back bumper has a satin-aluminum strip. Satin aluminum also is used to trim the power-retractable running boards. Standard wheels are 17 inches in diameter, but 18-inch wheels are optional. Built on a 113.7-inch wheelbase, the 2006 Mountaineer is 73.5 inches wide and measures 193.5 inches long overall.
The Mountaineer can be fitted to carry up to five or seven occupants. Luxury and Premier models come with a flat-folding third-row seat. A power-fold feature for the third-row seat is available.
New standard cloth upholstery and optional leather are available. Three second-row seating choices are available: A 60/40-split bench seat is standard, while Luxury and Premier editions get a 60/40-split bench with reclining seatbacks or optional bucket seats with a center console.
The gear selector is now located in the console, and door release handles are now integrated into the end of the armrests. Analog gauges sit in a new instrument panel.
Under the Hood
The Mountaineer is available with one of two engines. The 4.0-liter V-6 develops 210 hp and 254 pounds-feet of torque; it teams with a five-speed automatic. The 4.6-liter V-8 generates 292 hp and 300 pounds-feet of torque and works with a new six-speed-automatic transmission. The Mountaineer can be equipped with either rear- or four-wheel drive.
Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags are standard, and side curtain-type airbags that protect first- and second-row occupants are optional.