By Cars.com EditorsMay 13, 2009
About the video
Cars.com's Kelsey Mays takes a look at the 2008 Mercury Mariner.
(soothing guitar music) Hi, I'm Kelsey Mays for Cars.com. We're here with the 2008 Mercury Mariner. Now the Mariner is Mercury's restyled small SUV, and it's related to the Ford Escape and the Mazda Tribute.
While the Ford and Mazda versions have played with their styling a little bit. Mercury sort of retains the previous generations' look with the classic waterfall grill and stubby, but generally attractive, proportions. Now our test car has a relatively small V6 engine. It's not quite as quick as a Toyota Rav4 V6 or a Mazda CX7, but it should provide enough get up and go for most drivers. Outright acceleration might not be the Mariner's thing, but ride quality really is. Mercury says there's been a number of improvements, like a thicker glass and more aerodynamic roof, thicker carpeting, and more insulation. And we can tell on a long highway ride, even at 70 or 80 miles per hour, you could talk to people, you could listen to music. The ride was pretty quiet. And the interior has some creative new designs up front, but the overall quality's still in the mix of the previous generation Mariner with a lot of hard plastics and some uneven panels along the passenger side of the dash. The center controls employ Ford's new poke-through design, which is supposed to have the controls actually coming out of the center panel instead of sitting in a box, as you would normally find. They're interesting to look at and they feel decent quality, but they're not up there with the Saturn View or even the Mazda CX7's controls yet. The storage options are kind of hit and miss. The glove compartment is awfully small. Say you have a CD, it's already in there. The owner's manual, it just doesn't fit. You have to put it in the side door pockets. Now the saving grace here has to be the center console, and the lower compartment is absolutely giant. Here's my laptop computer, and as you can see, it fits right in. Our rear storage is a mixed bag. You've got a glass hatch here, there's a button on the back you can open it with, or you can punch a button on the key fob and it opens pretty easily. The hatch itself also opens like so, and there's a nice big, long scuff plate. It keeps anything from scratching up the bumper as you throw it in. So far, so good, but where the Mariner falls short is when you have bigger cargo. Now, a lot of small SUV's have seats that just fold with a simple one-step action. In the Mariner, if you try to do that, that's about how far the seats go down. Here, it's actually a three-step process. First, you have to remove the head restraints and throw them off to the side somewhere. Second, you have to unlatch the seat cushion and kind of arch it forward, like so. And, finally, you can put the seat down for a flat load floor. That's a lot of work, especially when a lot of other SUVs make it so easy. The Mariner isn't as refined as some of its competitors, nor is it the most exciting vehicle to drive. And we'd like to see some improvements to the backseat, but overall it's reasonably appealing and it could be a smart choice for some. For additional information on this car or any other, go to Cars.com and our blog, Kicking Tires.
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