The Mercury Mountaineer is closely related to the Ford Explorer but has more luxury content. It competes against other upscale full-size SUVs, such as the Buick Enclave and Saab 9-7X. The Mountaineer comes equipped with a fair amount of standard safety equipment, and very little has changed for the new model year beyond the packaging of options, the addition of a voice-activated Sync communication system and a new capless fuel-filler setup.
The top Mountaineer engine is a 292-horsepower, 4.6-liter V-8 with three valves per cylinder; it drives a six-speed automatic transmission. The standard AdvanceTrac electronic stability system features Roll Stability Control, and a DVD-based navigation system is available. It is built with body-on-frame construction, as are the Explorer and other truck-based SUVs.
Mercury says the front styling and rectangular headlights suggest a subtle evolution in the company’s design direction, with an emphasis on the vertically stacked front-end elements.
Satin aluminum is used in abundance across the exterior, including on the available power-retractable running boards. Standard wheels are 17 inches in diameter, but 18-inch wheels are standard on Premier models. Later in the model year, 20-inch wheels will be available. Built on a 113.7-inch wheelbase, the Mountaineer is 73.5 inches wide and measures 193.5 inches long overall.
There are three new colors for 2008 — silver, white and stone green. Also for 2008, the Mountaineer will be the first Ford Motor Company vehicle to have a fuel-filler system that doesn’t use a gas cap. Ford says the system forms a better seal, reducing the amount of smog-creating vapors released during fill-ups. That system will come to the Mountaineer later in the 2008 model year.
The Mountaineer can be fitted to carry up to five or seven occupants. Premier models come with a power-fold third-row seat. The second-row seats can be ordered as either a bench or bucket seats. Second-row seats in Premier models have reclining seatbacks.
For 2008, the only significant additions and changes are to the option packages, which bundle various features, such as heated seats and a voice-activated navigation system. A new option is the Sync communication system, developed with Microsoft, that integrates phones and media players through either Bluetooth or USB connectors and allows those devices to be voice-activated.
There is an optional rear-seat DVD entertainment system that has an 8-inch video screen.
The gear selector is located in the console, and door release handles are integrated into the ends of the armrests. Analog gauges sit in the instrument panel.
The Mountaineer is available with one of two engines: The 4.0-liter V-6 develops 210 hp and 254 pounds-feet of torque and 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, side-impact and side curtain airbags that protect first- and second-row occupants are standard, as is an electronic stability system.