2010 Mercury Mountaineer Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
January 30, 2010

The 2010 Mercury Mountaineer is just a dressed-up Ford Explorer, though its styling is a better match for family duty.

TheCarConnection.com has driven the 2010 Mercury Mountaineer—including those powered by V-6 and V-8 engines—and brings you advice on whether to pick this model over other SUVs. And to help provide a well-rounded presentation on the Mountaineer, TheCarConnection.com has looked at a range of other firsthand reports to compile a conclusive review.

The 2010 Mercury Mountaineer, to put it bluntly, is a 2010 Ford Explorer, rebadged and presented with slightly different trim and details. The Explorer isn't a bad place to start, but it's worth noting that this is a more traditional, truck-based SUV design, outclassed by many of the more modern and carlike passenger-oriented models. However, with three rows of seating, V-6 or V-8 power, and available all-wheel drive, the Mountaineer is a reasonably appealing vehicle altogether.

All of Mercury's current products are lightly dressed-up Ford models, with different front and rear details, slightly different sheetmetal in some cases, and a lighter, more lavish interior look. The 2010 Mercury Mountaineer is no exception; Mercury's waterfall grille and softer front end help make the Mountaineer appear just a little more carlike.

Two different powertrain choices are offered in the 2010 Mercury Mountaineer. The 4.0-liter V-6 brings adequate performance, but it's a little too coarse and rough. The available 4.6-liter V-8 provides better performance with a smoother character and real-world fuel economy that's almost as good. The V-6 comes with a five-speed automatic, and the V-8 is equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission.  Both are available in rear- or all-wheel-drive versions. Overall, the Mountaineer feels like a truck, but it's smooth, stable, and responsive for something that weighs 5,000 pounds.

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The 2010 Mountaineer can be configured to be either a five- or seven-passenger vehicle, and when equipped, the third row can be power operated. The Mountaineer is quite roomy inside, with a good driving position. Second-row occupants will also find plenty of space, though adults will have trouble entering or exiting the third row, let alone fitting in it. Ride quality is quite good, though—credit the Mountaineers SUV's independent rear suspension. The cabin feels nicely appointed, with a high-quality sensation, though up close the materials themselves could be better.

For a vehicle that is geared toward family use, safety is extremely important, and here the Mountaineer comes through on most counts. The Mountaineer offers canopy side curtain airbags and electronic stability controls to help improve passive and active safety. Crash tests aren't class-leading, but they're good, with top five-star results from the federal government in frontal and side impacts and "good" and "acceptable" ratings from the IIHS in frontal offset and side impact tests, respectively.

The 2010 Mercury Mountaineer is available in base trim or as the up-level Premier edition. The Mountaineer takes advantage of the Ford parts bin and is available with Ford-exclusive technology like Sirius Travel Link and 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. Other options include heated leather seats, a moonroof, power-adjustable brake/accelerator pedals, and power running boards.

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2010 Mercury Mountaineer

Styling

A little more gloss and sophistication separate the 2010 Mercury Mountaineer from the Ford Explorer.

All of Mercury's current products are lightly dressed-up Ford models, with different front and rear details, slightly different sheetmetal in some cases, and a lighter, more lavish interior look. The 2010 Mercury Mountaineer is no exception; Mercury's waterfall grille and softer front end help make the Mountaineer appear just a little more carlike.

Car and Driver thinks that the Mountaineer's "styling looks perhaps too familiar," which is not surprising. The Mountaineer shares much of its sheetmetal and even its detailing with the Explorer, but Kelley Blue Book does not necessarily consider this a detriment: "the Mercury Mountaineer takes the rugged good looks of the Explorer and stamps Mercury's new styling theme on its sheetmetal."

The Mountaineer’s interior sports a more urbane look than that of the Explorer, but it’s still straightforward, uncomplicated, and handsome. A reviewer at MotherProof observes "opening...the doors on the Mercury Mountaineer elicits big wows everywhere we go," and Kelley Blue Book says the Mountaineer "interior is beautifully arranged, with high-quality plastics and an intelligent dash design."

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2010 Mercury Mountaineer

Performance

The 2010 Mercury Mountaineer doesn't perform particularly well in any respect, though its strong powertrains allow good towing ability.

Two different powertrain choices are offered in the 2010 Mercury Mountaineer. The 4.0-liter V-6 brings adequate performance, but it's a little too coarse and rough. The available 4.6-liter V-8 provides better performance with a smoother character and real-world fuel economy that's almost as good. The V-6 comes with a five-speed automatic, and the V-8 is equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission. Both are available in rear- or all-wheel-drive versions.

Car and Driver says "the V-8 is tons of fun in the Mustang GT, where it feels like there's an offensive lineman on meth under the hood, but in the [Mercury] Mountaineer, it's pretty snooze-worthy," although this reviewer notes "you'll definitely be able to put it to work, with a 6960-pound tow rating in all-wheel-drive V-8." In regard to the smaller engine, Edmunds comments that the Mercury Mountaineer's "210-horsepower V6 looks more underpowered with every passing year."

The transmission isn't as responsive as many reviewers would like. Edmunds reports that it's "a bit slow to downshift." Car and Driver elaborates: "downshifts all happen at their own pace; there's no sense in asking any of them to hurry, because the Mountaineer will just ignore you." The Mountaineer comes with rear-wheel drive standard, but there is an optional all-wheel-drive system available.

Gas mileage isn't very impressive with either engine, but TheCarConnection.com notes similar mileage between the two. Ratings are as low as 13 mpg city with the V-6 (the more efficient of the two engines) and AWD. Many of the newer car-based crossovers will do much better. ConsumerGuide states "an AWD V8 Mountaineer averaged 15.1 mpg."

Overall, the Mountaineer feels like a truck, but it's smooth, stable, and responsive for something that weighs 5,000 pounds. The Mercury Mountaineer's "independent rear suspension provides it with great stability while cornering and the variable-rate power steering returns excellent feedback to the driver," says ConsumerGuide. And according to Edmunds, "brakes, though adequate when it comes to stopping, have a spongy pedal feel."

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2010 Mercury Mountaineer

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Mercury Mountaineer offers a reasonably spacious, comfortable interior, but a number of newer crossover models provide a more passenger-friendly layout.

The 2010 Mountaineer can be configured to be either a five- or seven-passenger vehicle, and when equipped, the third row can be power operated. The Mountaineer is quite roomy inside, with a good driving position. Second-row occupants will also find plenty of space, though adults will have trouble entering or exiting the third row, let alone fitting in it.

ConsumerGuide says that there's "plenty of room on comfortable seats...three adults can squeeze across in the roomy 2nd row," while amazingly, "third-row headroom is expansive, and legroom is surprisingly good." Cars.com notes that "second-row seats can be ordered as either a bench or bucket seats," and Mercury Mountaineer Premier models "have reclining seatbacks." On the other hand, Kelley Blue Book contends that "the third row is narrow and low to the floor, making long trips uncomfortable for adults"—which is the usual case for SUVs.

Storage space is good for cargo, but you won't find as many small places to store electronics and other items as on newer models. ConsumerGuide says that the Mercury Mountaineer's rear "separate-opening hatch glass is handy, but the hatch itself is weighty to open or close...second- and 3rd-row seats fold nearly flat for ample cargo room." The source adds, "aside from a large console box, interior storage is meager," also noting that "the transmission shift lever blocks easy access to some climate controls."

The cabin feels nicely appointed, with a high-quality feel, though up close the materials themselves could be better. Automotive.com says they "are generally nice, though there are some plastics that smack of cost-cutting." They add that "front door handles and door pulls are strangely placed and are at first awkward to use." ConsumerGuide is less than complimentary, remarking that the Mountaineer's interior materials are "mostly solid-feeling...many surfaces are hard plastic, however, which we deem inappropriate given Mountaineer's upscale intentions."

Ride quality is quite good, though—credit the Mountaineers SUV's independent rear suspension. For a truck-derived sport-ute, the Mountaineer has pleasant road manners. Most reviewers say that the ride is quite comfortable, but ConsumerGuide places the Mercury Mountaineer 2009 "among the best of traditional truck-type SUVs...compliant, and devoid of sloppy motions."

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2010 Mercury Mountaineer

Safety

Occupant protection is quite good in the 2010 Mercury Mountaineer, but it's not class-leading.

The 2010 Mercury Mountaineer has a full set of safety features, but a less-than-perfect set of crash-test scores, along with mediocre rollover-resistance results, keeps TheCarConnection.com from giving it an excellent score in this category.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awards the 2010 Mercury Mountaineer five out of five stars for front and side impact protection, but only three stars for rollover resistance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which conducts more rigorous tests, grants the Mountaineer its top rating of "good" in frontal offset tests, but the second-highest rating of "acceptable" for side impact tests. In rear impact tests, the Mercury Mountaineer gets an "acceptable" rating.

Kelley Blue Book reports that the Mercury Mountaineer 2009 "has an impressive array of safety features, with crumple zones in the front fenders, three-point seat belts at all positions and a side-curtain airbag system that deploys to cover seventy-five percent of the side glass area," plus the "standard Safety Canopy airbag system protects passengers in the event of a rollover or side collision." The stability control system in the 2010 Mercury Mountaineer has rollover mitigation, which uses traction control and stability control to lower the risk of a rollover.

Rearward visibility isn't quite the issue in the 2010 Mountaineer as it is in some other utility vehicles. Kelley Blue Book notes an "optional Reverse Sensing System alerts you to objects behind the vehicle that are out of the range of the rearview mirror." ConsumerGuide reports that Mercury Mountaineer "outward visibility is hindered somewhat by thick roof pillars, but the 2nd- and 3rd-row headrests fold to reduce the obstruction."

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2010 Mercury Mountaineer

Features

The 2010 Mercury Mountaineer looks conservative and traditional, but its feature set is thoroughly modern.

The 2010 Mercury Mountaineer is available in base trim or as the up-level Premier edition. In both cases, standard equipment is generous, but a very long list of options adds a lot of appeal for those who want a luxurious vehicle capable of towing a large boat trailer on the weekends.

The Mountaineer takes advantage of the Ford parts bin and is available with Ford-exclusive technology like Sirius Travel Link and 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. Other options include heated leather seats, a moonroof, power-adjustable brake/accelerator pedals, and power running boards.

Cars.com notes that the option packages on the 2010 Mercury Mountaineer bundle various features, such as heated seats and a voice-activated navigation system. Mountaineer options "include a Third Row Seat Package that includes a 50/50 split third-row bench seat, a 60/40 split second-row bench with reclining seatbacks and auxiliary climate controls for the rear passengers; second-row bucket seats," reports Automotive.com, adding that the Mercury Mountaineer Comfort Package offers "leather upholstery, heated front seats, 10-way power driver's seat, six-way power passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, and memory for the driver's seat."

Additionally, the poetically named Mercury Mountaineer Moon and Tune Elite Package picks up the powered moonroof and premium audio system.

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