only fitting that a distinctive characteristic
of the nautical sounding Mercury Mariner full
hybrid is its definitive waterfall grille. Smartly
tailored. Eye catching and uncluttered in style.
It helps set the tone that this is not just an
imitation version of the Ford Escape hybrid, but
a clearly classy hybrid of its own.
After a year
of success with Escape, it was time for Ford,
in '06, to move in a more refined direction, capturing
import intenders before they could move to offshore
brands in their quest to go green. Escape will
get you into a sporty hybrid SUV. Mariner will
get you there with elegant upmarket style. It's
not a surprising entry from an auto company that's
been stressing "environment" with its
green manufacturing facilities and most recently,
its participation in the development of a Midwest
alternative fuel "ethanol corridor."
is clearly the direction earth friendly vehicles
have been moving with growing publicity, acceptance,
and the stark realization something does need
to be done to help the planet on a personal level.
But Mercury and its compatriots are more than
feel good cars. They really do make gains in fuel
economy, and in filtering out polluting emissions
as the industry stretches toward its ultimate
goal of vehicles powered by fuel cell propulsion
systems that leave nothing but water vapor in
their wake. Parent Ford's also working on clean
diesels, hydrogen IC engines, and fuel cells.
the skin of the Mariner, there's the same foundation
as the Escape, including a gasoline-electric combo
of power sources that, blended, allow it to function
at its ultimate level of clean 33/29 MPG efficiency
while leaving room for enough performance to tow
1,000 pounds. Base of the system is Ford's 2.3-liter
four-cylinder Duratec engine, paired with two
electric motors that alternate between expending
and generating electricity. Engine and motors
work in concert for quick acceleration. But Mariner
can run on a blend of both or glide on electric
power alone. Electricity regenerates from the
functions of driving, coasting and braking that
begins the instant the driver's foot moves off
the gas pedal. There's no outlet to plug into
to fill the "electric fuel tank" nickel-metal-hydride
battery pack under a flat cargo floor. Mariner
creates its own.
treatments are upscale, with leather and satin
aluminum trim among expected luxurious amenities.
The suspension is tuned to provide expected high
end agile road manners while sipping lightly on
fuel. With an expected max battery life of 10-years
or 150,000 miles, one can enjoy driving an SUV
for five with a clear conscience.