2009 Mercury Mariner Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
November 20, 2008

The 2009 Mercury Mariner is an attractive and capable compact SUV, now with vastly improved performance.

Editors from TheCarConnection.com have driven the new 2009 Mercury Mariner. Our team has also read the range of reviews for the Mariner to develop this complete review. This comprehensive research enables TheCarConnection.com the ability to deliver expert opinions that will help shoppers make a smart decision if they're considering compact SUVs.

The Mercury Mariner is a solid and stylish five-passenger, compact SUV that has been completely updated for 2009.

Although the 2009 Mercury Mariner is a carlike, crossover SUV, it's styled more like a traditional, upright SUV, enriched with a tasteful chrome grille and accents. Unlike some SUVs such as the Honda CR-V, there's no mistaking the Mariner's design intent; it's an SUV from any angle. Inside, materials and appointments were extensively upgraded for 2008, including matte-metallic accents and a two-tiered instrument panel. The blue-green instrument lighting is extremely easy to read.

Both of the engines for the 2009 Mercury Mariner have been overhauled to deliver better fuel economy and more power. The standard engine on the Mariner is a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder that now produces 171 horsepower. If you're looking for more power, the significantly enhanced 3.0-liter V-6 makes 240 horsepower, up 40 hp from 2008. It's easy to feel this 20 percent power increase. A responsive and fuel-efficient six-speed automatic is newly offered with either engine (standard with the V-6).

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Mercury estimates that both the four- and six-cylinder Mariner models are each at least one second quicker to 60 mph than 2008 models. With the four-cylinder and standard five-speed manual, mileage is 22/28 mpg city/highway, or a still-respectable 18 mpg city, 26 mpg highway with the V-6 and six-speed automatic. If maximum economy is your goal, the Mariner is also offered with a sophisticated single-mode hybrid powertrain that we've driven and like.

Four-wheel drive (an on-demand system) is available with either engine, but don't be confused by the 4WD badge. The Mariner is not designed for off-road use, but feel free to tackle gravel driveways with abandon.

The 2009 Mercury Mariner also rides and handles much better than the previous version. The suspension has been completely retuned; new struts, shock absorbers, and sway bars have significantly refined the ride.

The 2009 Mercury Mariner hasn't been afflicted by the super-size phenomena. It provides ample room for four adults, but driving with three across the rear bench seat is best left for shorter trips. The front seats are comfortable, and the view out the little SUV is well above sedan-roof height. The rear seats are livable, but the bottom cushions are a bit short for adults. Total passenger volume is 99.4 cubic feet, smaller than some other compact SUVs such as the Honda CR-V.

Not all is perfect inside the Mariner. TheCarConnection.com's experts find that folding the rear seats is a convoluted task. The rear cushions fold forward on hinges at their leading edge. The three headrests must be removed. Then one latch per seatback must be released. The result is a flat load floor offering up 66.3 cubic feet of cargo area, but there's no storage for the headrests.

The 2009 Mercury Mariner gets high marks for safety. Four front airbags are standard, as are side-curtain airbags that extend into the second row. The Mariner earns five stars for frontal and side-impact NHTSA crash tests and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick. Anti-lock brakes, traction control, and electronic stability control are also standard.

In terms of new features, the 2009 Mercury Mariner is at the leading edge, offering the SYNC interface system that Ford developed with Microsoft. Even more important than its iPod interface is its ability to provide hands-free operation of Bluetooth cell phones. Sirius Travel Link, another option, provides navigation plus real-time traffic, weather, and fuel prices among other features, and can be easily controlled by voice commands. Some Mariner trim levels include LED-powered ambient lighting. The only feature Mariner lacks is a factory-fitted rear-seat DVD player.

If style is really (and we mean really) your thing, check out the black-and-white Voga package.

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