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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
Now closer in fuel economy to the compact SUV class sales leader, the Honda CR-V
The steering, the brakes, and the aerodynamics have been tweaked, too
Car and Driver
New 6-speed automatic transmission provides better than expected acceleration
All three powertrains for the 2010 Mercury Mariner were overhauled last year to deliver better fuel economy and more power. The standard engine on the 2010 Mariner is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 171 horsepower. For more might, a 3.0-liter V-6 makes 240 horsepower; this is the choice if you need towing ability. Both engines come with a responsive and fuel-efficient six-speed automatic, and the smaller engine can also be paired with a five-speed manual.
ConsumerGuide reports that the four-cylinder "provides better than expected acceleration, even with AWD." Car and Driver adds that 0-to-60 time "now stands at 10.4 seconds." Cars.com observes that the V-6 2010 Mariner "launches you swiftly, coming on strong particularly in the 40-60 mph range." And Motor Trend agrees, citing "a 0-60-mph time that Ford claims is a substantial 1.7 sec quicker than [a previous] model."
Edmunds notes that "both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission," and reviewers just can't say enough good things about it. ConsumerGuide states that "the transmission shifts smoothly and kicks down quickly for more power," while Cars.com adds that it "has shorter gears for quicker passing-lane bursts" while staying smooth and refined. The Mercury Mariner can also tow a respectable amount. Edmunds reports that, "properly equipped, the V6 Mariner can tow up to 3,500 pounds."
On-demand four-wheel drive is available with either engine, but don't be confused-the Mariner is hardly designed for off-road use. The added traction is meant for gravel driveways, muddy parking lots, and snowy suburban streets.
Gas mileage varies, depending on which engine and transmission are fitted and whether the Mariner sports front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The four-cylinder paired with the automatic (we expect few orders for the five-speed manual) is EPA-rated at 21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway. With the V-6, six-speed automatic, and four-wheel drive, it returns a respectable 18 mpg city, 23 mpg highway.
If maximum economy is your goal, the 2010 Mercury Mariner Hybrid is fitted with Ford's sophisticated hybrid-electric powertrain. Its durability has been proven over many years of use, including combat duty in New York City taxi fleets. It pairs a specially tuned version of the 2.5-liter four with a hybrid transmission that incorporates electric motors both powering the car and recharging the nickel-metal-hydride battery pack over the rear axle.
The Mariner Hybrid is rated at 34 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, though gas mileage falls to 30 mpg city, 27 mpg highway if four-wheel drive is specified. For 2010, the hybrid model's air-conditioning compressor is now electric, so cool air continues to flow even when the engine switches off to let the Mariner Hybrid run in all-electric mode.
The handling of the 2010 Mercury Mariner and Mariner Hybrid improves as well, although braking comes in for some criticism. ConsumerGuide remarks that handling is "a surprise given the age of Mariner's basic platform" and noting that "body lean in turns is well controlled, though the steering feels overboosted and vague." Unfortunately, Edmunds reviewers report "its rear brakes were downgraded to inferior drums," so "the best stopping distance" Edmunds could manage from 60 mpg "was 154 feet-at least 25 feet longer than average, and frankly unacceptable."
The 2010 Mercury Mariner and Mariner Hybrid are staving off their age and will still lure the discerning driver with performance and fuel economy.