- Independent rear suspension
- Interior styling
- Stable handling
- Ride isn't as smooth as car-based crossovers
- V-6 engine noise
The 2008 Mercury Mountaineer is what an Explorer looks like in lipstick and heels.
For the longest time, Mercurys have just been nice Fords. And so it is with the 2008 Mercury Mountaineer. It's really just a very nice Ford Explorerot that being a finely tailored Explorer is a bad thing as the Explorer is among the best of the mid-size truck-based SUVs.
So what are you looking at when you spy the 2008 Mercury Mountaineer? Well, it's an SUV that was completely redesigned in 2006 and offers buyers plenty of interior room with three rows of seats (the third row can be power-folding), V-8 power, all-wheeldrive, and a pleasant urbane exterior style. Canopy side curtain airbags and electronic stability controls help improve passive and active safety. Government tests indicate that the Mountaineer protects its occupants very well during crashes.
Now, for 2008, the Explorer-based Mountaineer gets a dose of technology as it adds Ford's SYNC, which uses a touchscreen and Bluetooth to control the vehicle's entertainment and communication systems. The Mountaineer also adds a capless fuel filler system, 20-inch wheels, and new option bundles like a Navigation package and the Moon and Tune Elite package.
Otherwise, the '08 Mountaineer is basically a carryover. A 4.0-liter V-6 engine remains the standard powerplant, with a 4.6-liter V-8 as an option. The V-6 comes mated to a five-speed automatic transmission, while the V-8 offers a six-speed automatic. Available in rear- or all-wheel-drive versions, with either five- or seven-passenger seating, the Mountaineer comes with four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes. A DVD navigation system, Sirius Satellite Radio, heated leather seats, a moonroof, and power-adjustable brake/accelerator pedals continue to be optional.
The 2008 Mercury Mountaineer is available in base trim or as the up-level Premier edition.
Editors of TheCarConnection.com generally like the 2008 Mercury Mountaineer. It's screwed together tightly, and there are some nice details. Some quality gaffes remain, but Mercury is lightyears ahead of where it was just three years ago. The exterior styling is clean and uncluttered, with the chrome grille looking right at home.
The driving position is comfortable, and while the 2008 Mercury Mountaineer drives like a truck, it's stable and responsive for something that weighs 5,000 pounds. Some of the credit goes to the SUV's independent rear suspension. Editors from TheCarConnection.com fnd the V-6 engine noisier than the V-8, as the smaller engine has to work harder to keep the Mountaineer moving. As expected, mileage sn't impressive.
Feature-wise, the 2008 Mercury Mountaineer offers just about anything a buyer might want in an SUV, including rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a power-folding thirdrow seat (increasing the Mercury's seating capacity to seven).
This epiphany leads TheCarConnection.com’s experts to offer a very different set of competitors for your consideration (compared to the recommendations for the Mountaineer's twin, the Explorer).
GMC's Acadia is a crossover that rides on a carlike chassis. The Acadia offers more room than the Mountaineer, but the crossover's V-6 can feel a bit winded at times.
Toyota's Highlander is another crossover, this one based on the Toyota Camry/Avalon sedans. The Highlander's interior is a bit smaller than the Mountaineer, but it can seat seven in a pinch. This SUV offers one of the softest rides around if that's what you're looking for.
Honda's redesigned Pilot is another good choice and will seat up to eight. Like the Highlander, the Pilot is a crossover.
Two more crossovers from Mercury's parent, Ford Motor Company, include the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX. These are two flavors of the same vehicle that offer more agile handling than the 2008 Mountaineer, but nowhere near the towing capabilities. These crossover twins also seat only five.
If you're not buying right away, you can also consider the 2009 Ford Flex. This is a crossover wagon that has a great sense of style and might be an excellent alternative to the Mountaineer. It arrives in showrooms later in 2008.