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2008 Mercury Mariner Review

October 2006
Filed under: MERCURY Car News | MERCURY Headlines


ntroduced in 2005 as Mercury's entry-level, small SUV, Mariner built on the style and success of the mid-size four-door Mountaineer. The original Mariner was designed for customers who wanted a little more than a standard, small SUV, as it delivered a high level of design sophistication, more standard features, premium interior materials and unique content in a smartly packaged, fuel-efficient model.

Now, with the first significant redesign of Mariner since its launch, the new 2008 model builds on that foundation by adding higher levels of style and refinement - it is a look that will define the Mercury brand moving forward.

The 2008 Mariner hits dealer showrooms in early 2007 and is completely redesigned inside and out. In addition to fresh sheet metal with new Mercury design cues and a remade interior, Mariner is updated with a comprehensive safety package, a quieter ride and more refined driving dynamics. What has not changed is the overall package: Mariner retains the fuel-efficiency, maneuverability and the fun-to-drive nature that is a core characteristic of the small SUV package.

"The 2008 Mariner is the first product to truly deliver 100 percent of the design DNA for Mercury as a brand," says Kim Irwin, Mercury brand manager. "It looks good and drives well, it has sophisticated style, and it's not like anything else out there."

The 2008 Mariner enters the market at a time when customers are looking for smaller SUVs that still deliver on the attributes demanded of a traditional SUV, such as four-wheel drive, a commanding seating position, towing capability and good cargo capacity. The new Mariner continues to balance all these demands, wrapping it all in a sophisticated and stylish package that can only be found on a Mercury.

Clean, Modern and Sophisticated Exterior Design Sets Mariner Apart

On the outside, the 2008 Mariner's all-new sheet metal includes significant design changes to the front/rear fascias, liftgate, headlamps and taillamps, a raised beltline, new hood and B-pillar blackout molding. There's also a unique satin signature waterfall grille.

"Overall, the new Mariner looks more refined than the previous model," says Stephen Lesh, program manager for the 2008 Mariner. "The hood is raised and it's more squared off. With its new look and enhanced features, the 2008 Mariner is perfect for customers who want something a little smaller than Mountaineer, gets a little better mileage and yet still delivers all the capabilities of an SUV."

One striking visual statement on the 2008 Mariner is the new grille that's larger, with bigger openings between the bars. The Mercury badge in the middle of the waterfall grille is larger, too. More brightwork front and rear gives 2008 Mariner an unmistakable Mercury presence on the road. The previous model's body-color molding and lower body cladding are removed, giving Mariner a cleaner, more seamless profile. Mercury-exclusive integrated side repeater lamps is another Mercury's design cue and adds an element of safety.

Head and taillamps have a unique "eyebrow" design running around the lenses, bringing together the front and rear ends of the vehicle. Look closely: The headlamps are accentuated with a Mercury badge subtly integrated inside the housing. The taillamps have four inner lenses and a clear lamp with a red inner lens. The "powerdome" hood has a unique reverse crease that draws the eye from the grille toward the windshield.

The design changes go more than skin deep. "Every surface was changed to make the vehicle look more substantial than the previous model," said Doyle Letson, chief designer for Mariner. "We wanted the new Mariner to have a presence, sophistication and attention to detail that would be more appealing to the customer."

On top of the vehicle, a new roof panel helps reduce NVH (noise, vibration and harshness). "Recessed channels on top of the vehicle are designed to improve air flow over the vehicle," said Letson. "We found out that if we tweaked the size and position of these channels, we could affect NVH in a very positive way."

Horizontal ribs in the roof also strengthen body structure and help reduce boom from wind noise while larger mirrors that improve rear visibility have been carefully tailored to reduce wind noise.

Mariner is available in two trim levels: the well-equipped Mariner and the up-level Mariner Premier that adds bright machined 16-inch aluminum wheels (with optional chrome-clad 17-inch wheels), available satin inserts on the roof rack, leather seats, a power driver's seat, dual automatic temperature control and body-color mirrors.

Three new 2008 Mariner colors include Kiwi, Light Ice Blue and Black Pearl Slate. In all, eight exterior colors will be offered on the new Mariner.

Mariner's Stylish, Sophisticated and Refined Interior Moves Further Upscale

Inside, Satin Pewter finishes and chrome accents give the 2008 Mariner an upscale look. There are new seats, door trim panels, A- and B-pillar trims, center console and a new floor-mounted shifter. The seats are monochromatic or two-tone with Alcantara ® Suede inserts.

"The way we define the brand is, it's cool," says Evelyn Bowman, interior designer for the Mariner. "Mariner's interior is savvy, forward and technical looking. It has a lot of eye-popping details that resonate well with our target customer."

Signaling a new direction for Mercury interior design, the 2008 Mariner is the first Mercury vehicle to debut three innovative interior features.

* A "top of dash" display positioned at eye level on the dashboard shows inside and outside temperature, radio functions and climate control readouts. When the driver or front passenger adjusts a knob or button on the instrument panel, the change is reflected in the eye-level display instead of lower down on the dashboard where information is typically located. This simple, efficient design puts much of the vehicle's information in one place at the top of the dashboard, making it easier to read while driving.

* Ice Blue Lighting replaces green on the instrument cluster, on the center console, on the door lock and window switches and on the steering wheel. Ice Blue presents a cool, crisp, easy-on-the-eyes light for night driving and enhances the overall quality feel of the interior.

* Replacing the traditional "brick" design for the radio and heating/air conditioning controls, Mariner features dials and buttons that "poke-through" the center console. The instrument panel houses audio and climate controls, a standard MP3/iPod ® jack, controls for the heated seats and an available in-dash Navigation system. The result is a more integrated, more finished look.

In addition to these features, Mariner's center console has innovative space and storage solutions. The console features best-in-class volume and two removable bins with dovetail mounting points on the front passenger side or rear of the console. The medium-sized bins can be used as a trash receptacle, an extra place to put a music player, or an additional storage space for keys, sunglasses, etc.

The center console in the new Mariner is large enough to hold a laptop computer, and there are three levels of storage space. The bottom storage level features a secret compartment that goes nearly to the floor of the vehicle so Mariner owners can hide valuables like a digital camera or purse. The rear part of the console has molded-in rear-seat cupholders that are higher, sturdier and easier to reach than in the previous model.

The storage area behind the second row of seats has a newly available rear cargo management system. Lifting the rear cargo area carpet reveals a hidden, lockable place to store items - it's a second "wet" trunk to keep snorkeling gear or wet beach towels away from dry bags or clothes. The rear cargo area carpet is also reversible - flip it over and there's an easy-to-clean rubber surface.

The air conditioner has been improved for more comfort in hot weather conditions. A larger air conditioner compressor improves overall performance, and new rectangular air vents near the top of the dashboard efficiently direct air to passengers in the back seat and do not blow directly on the driver's hands.

A host of other features elevate the level of sophistication inside Mariner. A new floor-mounted shifter, for example, let engineers remove the emergency brake handle from the center console, freeing up room between the seats; the emergency brake is now engaged with a floor-mounted pedal and released with a handle on the dashboard. Thoughtfully sculpted door panels create more elbow room; audio speakers sit higher in the front doors for better sound clarity; and the rear doors have new storage bins.

Mariner is also one of the first Ford Motor Company vehicles to feature One-Touch Integrated Start. This feature lets the driver put the key in the ignition, turn it once and then let go - like electronic "start" buttons that are becoming common on luxury cars.

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