Introduced last year, the Mercury Mariner offers modern Mercury design, refined driving dynamics and unique product features in a small, fuel-efficient SUV designed to attract new customers to Mercury showrooms.
A new exterior color, interior color and several equipment additions lead the changes for 2006.
The Mariner is the entry-level sport utility in the Lincoln Mercury showroom, which features a comprehensive lineup of upscale and luxury SUVs including the Mercury Mountaineer and Lincoln Navigator.
Mariner is available in Convenience, Luxury and Premier trims in front-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive versions. It is produced in Avon Lake, Ohio.
Based on one of the best-selling small sport-utilities on the market, the Ford Escape, the Mercury Mariner is designed for customers who want a little more. Mariner delivers a new level of design sophistication, more standard features, upgraded interior materials and unique content that appeal to Mercury buyers.
For 2006, the new “Moon and Tune” package combines a power moonroof, roof rack and AM/FM audio system with satellite radio and six-disc in-dash CD changer. A six-way power driver seat is now standard on Luxury models, while a six-disc CD changer is a new standalone option. Light Tundra and Flint are new to the exterior and interior palettes, respectively
Mariner’s exterior design features a stacked-element theme at the front of the vehicle with distinctive headlamps over integrated fog lamps and a vertical, satin-aluminum grille. A satin-aluminum bumper insert ties in with the grille design, while the U-shaped air intake contributes to the tailored and organized theme.
Mariner strikes a sophisticated profile with color-keyed body-side cladding offering chip and ding protection in an integrated, clutter-free design. Turn signal repeater lamps are mounted on the fenders – another distinctive Mercury design cue – which further distinguishes Mariner from the competition. The taillamps are shrouded with horizontal satin-aluminum-accent grilles for a family resemblance to Mountaineer.
Opening the doors introduces the driver and passengers to unique two-toned door panels with bright-ringed speaker grilles in all doors. Chrome door h andles add refinement. In addition, the seats are stitched with thick French seams.
The tailored interior is highlighted with wood grain, satin-aluminum and chrome accents. A floor-mounted shifter provides a sporty feel and is accented with a chrome surround and a satin-aluminum shift knob. The instruments have bright bezels and dark gray faces. Satin-aluminum and wood-grain bezels on the unique center console and center stack further contribute to the rich interior theme.
Mariner is tuned for the urban environment with car-like ride. Mariner benefits from an available Intelligent 4WD System which automatically transfers torque from front to rear as required by road conditions – without driver intervention.
Mariner features unibody construction for lightweight, nimble maneuverability and a low stance for ease of entry and exit. Four-wheel independent suspension contributes to the Mariner’s refined car-like ride and h andling.
Mariner powertrains include a 2.3-liter 16-valve Duratec 23 four-cylinder and an optional 3.0-liter 24-valve V-6 Duratec 30 engine. Both engines come with a standard 4-speed automatic transaxle.
Mariner features the Personal Safety System®, one of the most comprehensive and technologically advanced safety systems available in any vehicle in any class. Seat-mounted front side air bags and side air curtain air bags are optional.
Convenience: 2.3-liter I-4 Duratec 23 engine, four-speed automatic transmission, power front disc and rear drum brakes with ABS, 16-inch 15-spoke painted aluminum wheels, chrome exhaust tip, body-color front and rear bumper covers, fog lamps, side repeater lamps, power-adjustable exterior mirrors, power windows and locks, keyless entry with driver’s side keypad, solar-tinted door and liftgate glass, AM/FM audio system with satellite radio and single CD player, low-back cloth front bucket seats, seatback map pockets, air conditioning, center console with two cup holders and enclosed storage, leather-wrapped tilt steering wheel with speed control and four cargo floor hooks.
Luxury adds: 3.0-liter Duratec 30 V-6 engine, privacy glass, six-way power-adjustable driver seat with lumbar support, “Moon and Tune” Package (with power moonroof, roof rack with crossbars and AM/FM audio system with satellite radio, six-disc in-dash CD changer and four speakers).
Premier adds: 16-inch, 15-spoke machined aluminum wheels, heated exterior mirrors, AM/FM audio system with six-disc in-dash CD changer with six speakers and a subwoofer, leather heated seats with Preferred Suede inserts, perimeter anti-theft alarm, overhead console with dual storage bins, message center with compass display, auto-dimming interior mirror, automatic headlamps and dual illuminated vanity mirrors.
Options include the Intelligent 4WD system, reverse sensing system and side curtain air bags.
The Mercury Mariner is a sport utility vehicle, not a car, so you should not expect anything like a boulevard cruiser ride. And you won’t get one. But you will get one of the better rides in the Mariner’s class of compact SUVs. Drawn as it is on the foundation of the number-one selling Ford Escape, which has been around in current configuration long enough to have been thoroughly debugged in the basic elements, the Mariner accounts for itself better than most in the class.
In the power department, the V6 delivers as expected, pulling readily and cleanly through the heart of the power band, if not with an abundance of gusto; this is a consequence, no doubt, of less-than-impressive torque. Also, and as most engines in this class do, it labors at the extreme top end, but few if any Mariner drivers are likely to explore that territory.
The Hybrid’s CVT transmission, which delivers power smoothly without needing to shift gears either up or down, should be a delight for commuting and stop-and-go urban traffic. CVTs take a little getting used to as under acceleration they seamlessly adjust the ratio to keep the engine operating in the optimum power band, which sometimes has the feeling of a slipping clutch or snowmobile engine. Drivers who are able to embrace this are rewarded with smooth, efficient operation.
The 4WD system available for most models operates seamlessly, smoothly rerouting power without hesitation through its computer-controlled clutch to the rear wheels almost before the front wheels begin to lose grip. It will comfortably and confidently master snow-filled parking lots at the ski lodge and muddy driveways at the weekend cabin. However, the Mariner is not designed to navigate truly rugged terrain off road.
The Mariner tracks well and rides comfortably at highway speeds for a vehicle of its size and stature. Steering is certain, with good on-center feel. The suspension is tuned to conquer all but the truly egregious pavement pockmarks. There’s little body lean in curves.