2009 Mercury Mountaineer Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
January 1, 2009

The 2009 Mercury Mountaineer is what an Explorer looks like when it’s dressed up for the prom.

To help provide a well-rounded presentation on the Mountaineer, TheCarConnection.com has reviewed the latest articles on the Mercury to compile this conclusive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com offices have driven and evaluated various versions of the 2009 Mercury Mountaineer, including those powered by V-6 and V-8 engines; with this they can compare the Mountaineer to other SUVs to give you clear advice where other reviews might present conflicting opinions.

The Mercury brand is sandwiched between Ford and Lincoln in the Ford Motor Company lineup and, as a result, often has an identify crisis. It isn’t as luxurious as a Lincoln, but at the same time, it's a step above Ford in terms of design and amenities. The 2008 Mercury Mountaineer is a perfect example; it’s really just a well-equipped Ford Explorer, uniquely trimmed. Having an Explorer as a foundation is not a bad place to start, as it is among the best of the truck-based mid-size SUVs.

Mercury builds on its strong pedigree and offers the 2009 Mountaineer as a roomy three-row SUV with V-6 or V-8 power, available all-wheel drive, and original styling that isn’t altogether unpleasant. Safety is important in this segment, as the cargo is most likely to have a pulse. The Mountaineer offers canopy side curtain airbags and electronic stability controls to help improve passive and active safety. Government tests indicate that the Mountaineer protects its occupants very well during crashes.

The Explorer-based 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.

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The 2009 Mountaineer continues with the same engine and drivetrain choices; 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 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. The Mountaineer can be configured to be either a five- or seven-passenger vehicle, and when equipped, the third row can be power operated. A DVD navigation system, Sirius Satellite Radio, heated leather seats, a moonroof, power-adjustable brake/accelerator pedals, and power running boards remain optional.

The 2009 Mercury Mountaineer is available in base trim or as the up-level Premier edition.

Editors of TheCarConnection.com find the 2009 Mercury Mountaineer to be generally agreeable. It features clean styling and overall good quality. There are some glaring material quality missteps, but Mercury is much better than it used to be.

The driving position is good, and while the 2009 Mercury Mountaineer feels like the truck that it is based on, it is smooth, stable, and responsive for something that weighs 5,000 pounds. Credit the Mountaineers SUV's independent rear suspension for the improved ride. Editors from TheCarConnection.com find 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 isn't impressive but not any worse than its truck-based competitors.

Feature-wise, the 2009 Mercury Mountaineer offers just about anything a buyer might want in an SUV, including great towing capacity, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, and a power-folding third-row seat (bringing the Mercury's seating capacity to seven).

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2009 Mercury Mountaineer

Styling

Sophisticated ruggedness marks the 2009 Mercury Mountaineer, inside and out.

The 2009 Mercury Mountaineer is a dressed-up Ford Explorer. But that’s not a bad thing, as the Explorer has one of the best, most recognized shapes of the truck-based SUVs. Overall, reviewers don’t have much to say about its style.

According to sources from around the Web—and in the opinion of TheCarConnection.com’s editors—the Mountaineer’s exterior styling is clean and uncluttered, with the chrome grille looking right at home. Some reviewers, however, such as the one writing at Car and Driver, find that the Mercury Mountaineer "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. Kelley Blue Book says the Mercury Mountaineer 2009 "interior is beautifully arranged, with high-quality plastics and an intelligent dash design." A reviewer at MotherProof observes "opening...the doors on the Mercury Mountaineer elicits big wows everywhere we go."

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2009 Mercury Mountaineer

Performance

If you don’t have unreasonable performance expectations for this type of truck, you’ll like the 2009 Mercury Mountaineer.

TheCarConnection.com studied reviews of the 2009 Mercury Mountaineer’s performance, drove the new SUV, and found its performance to be predictably smooth, if not exciting. While it still drives like the truck it is based on, it's stable and responsive for something that weighs 5,000 pounds.

The Mountaineer shares its engines with the Explorer. 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 "210-horsepower V6 looks more underpowered with every passing year."

There are some complaints about the Mercury Mountaineer transmission; 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." ConsumerGuide adds "the transmission shift lever blocks easy access to some climate controls." The Mountaineer comes with rear-wheel drive standard, but there is an optional all-wheel-drive system available.

With fuel economy ratings of only 13 mpg city with the V-6 (the more efficient of the two engines) and AWD, gas mileage is thoroughly unimpressive and near the bottom of its class. Many of the newer car-based crossovers will do much better. ConsumerGuide states "an AWD V8 Mountaineer averaged 15.1 mpg."

Kelley Blue Book says the 2009 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." According to Edmunds, "brakes, though adequate when it comes to stopping, have a spongy pedal feel."

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2009 Mercury Mountaineer

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Mercury Mountaineer’s spacious and flexible interior offers plenty of room for adults and cargo.

The 2009 Mercury Mountaineer offers up to three rows of seating and a relatively plush interior, though as with most other SUVs, that third-row seat is a little snug for anyone larger than a “tweener.”

The Mountaineer’s basics give drivers some flexibility with people and cargo. Automotive.com reports that the "Mercury Mountaineer offers three interior layouts: five-passenger, six-passenger or seven-passenger," along with "multi-adjustable front seats make for comfortable commutes." Cars.com says that "second-row seats can be ordered as either a bench or bucket seats," and Mercury Mountaineer 2009 Premier models "have reclining seatbacks." ConsumerGuide points out "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." 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.

Mercury Mountaineer storage space is acceptable, according to most reviews TheCarConnection.com read. ConsumerGuide says that the Mercury Mountaineer 2009'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." However, "aside from a large console box, interior storage is meager."

Opinions on cabin materials are fairly consistent from what we've seen at TheCarConnection.com. The interior Mercury Mountaineer materials "are generally nice, though there are some plastics that smack of cost-cutting," according to Automotive.com, which adds that "front door handles and door pulls are strangely placed and are at first awkward to use." ConsumerGuide is less than complimentary, saying that Mercury Mountaineer 2009 interior materials are "mostly solid-feeling...many surfaces are hard plastic, however, which we deem inappropriate given Mountaineer's upscale intentions."

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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2009 Mercury Mountaineer

Safety

The 2009 Mercury Mountaineer does a very good of protecting its passengers.

Only the Mountaineer’s top-heaviness and tendency to roll—inherent to all SUVs—keep the experts at TheCarConnection.com from giving the 2009 Mercury Mountaineer a perfect 10 in the safety category.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) bestows the 2009 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, awards 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, however, the Mercury Mountaineer receives the lowest rating of "poor."

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." According to Cars.com, "antilock brakes, side-impact and side curtain airbags that protect first- and second-row occupants are standard" for Mercury Mountaineer 2009, "as is an electronic stability system." The Mercury Mountaineer 2009 stability control also has rollover mitigation, which uses traction control and stability control to lower the risk of a rollover.

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"; in any event, 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" available for the 2009 Mercury Mountaineer.

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2009 Mercury Mountaineer

Features

The 2009 Mercury Mountaineer offers high-tech options in a traditional package.

The 2009 Mercury Mountaineer has a lengthy list of standard features and a handful of Ford-exclusive options that put it near the top of the SUV class.

Kelley Blue Book says "the entry-level [Mercury] Mountaineer provides a long list of standard equipment, including a V6 engine, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, SecuriLock passive anti-theft system, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), two-row side-curtain airbags, rear defroster, power windows, power locks, dual-heated power mirrors, illuminated entry with remote and driver's door keypad, fog lights, automatic headlamps, AM/FM stereo with CD, power driver's seat with manual lumbar support, cruise control, tire pressure monitor, 17-inch machined-aluminum wheels and a rear wiper/washer." Automotive.com adds that the base 2009 Mercury Mountaineer also gets a "trip computer; fog lights; a Class II towing package; auto on/off headlights; roof rails; a rear cargo management system; and all-terrain tires on machined aluminum wheels" as standard equipment.

Mercury Mountaineer 2009 option packages, according to Cars.com, 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, which adds that the Mercury Mountaineer 2009 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 deluxe audio system (of course).

Sirius Satellite Radio and power-adjustable brake/accelerator pedals continue to be optional on the Mountaineer, and new for 2009 is Sirius Travel Link and Ford’s SYNC entertainment controller, which pairs Bluetooth technology, a USB interface, and the vehicle’s audio system to control MP3 players, cell phones, and if ordered, the navigation system.

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