Road & Travel Magazine

Auto Advice & Tips
Auto Buyer's Guides
Car Care Maintenance
Climate Views & Videos
Auto Awards Archive
Insurance & Accidents
Legends & Leaders
New Car Reviews
Planet Driven
Road Humor
Road Trips
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Teens & Tots Tips
Tire Buying Tips
Used Car Buying
Vehicle Model Guide

Travel Channel
Adventure Travel
Advice & Tips
Airline Rules
Bed & Breakfasts
Cruises & Tours
Destination Reviews
Earth Tones
Family Travel Tips
Health Trip
Hotels & Resorts
Luxury Travel
Pet Travel
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Spa Reviews
Train Vacations
World Travel Directory
Bookmark and Share

2005 Cute Ute Buyer's Guide

2005 Mercury Mariner Review

by Martha Hindes

2005 Mercury Mariner
2005 Mercury Mariner

Where success has led, opportunity is sure to follow.
Sayings like that make sense when you consider the expansion of the hottest selling compact sport utility, the five-passenger Escape, beyond the Ford logo. Ford's companion Mercury Division launches its own, more upscale compact ute for '05, making the trio -- all on the same foundation -- complete. Ford handles the mainstream market, Mazda's Tribute captures the sporty, performance mood and the new Mercury Mariner goes grille to exhaust against tonier, upmarket competitors.

Mariner models, with more elite styling cues, come in three iterations, including Premier. All have four-speed auto trans for I-4 or V-6 engines, front- or all-wheel drive, more standard and optional amenities (rear-obstacle warning system) and a slightly higher price tag, starting in the low to mid 20s.

On the Mazda side, there's a spicier, more performance-boosted Tribute thanks to a new larger 2.3-liter base engine it shares with the Escape, now designated "I," and optional Active Torque Control Coupling full-time four-wheel drive. Horsepower is boosted to 153, with better middle-range torque checking in at 152 lb-ft. Both Escape and Tribute offer manual or auto trans with that Inline four. New across the spectrum are optional side-curtain airbags for rollover protection.