Mercury has moved up its release of the Mariner Hybrid. They began selling the car yesterday. The new hybrid SUV will start at $29,840, which is $4190 more than a comparably equipped Mariner with luxury appointments. Ford Motor Co. is pushing the Internet as a sales channel, with dealer assistance of course. Ford believes that the 'progressive' nature of the typical hybrid buyer will mean they are more open to using the Internet for a car purchase. Ford has also gained the support of the Sierra Club, the large environmental group. Ford will be advertising the release heavily, using the Sierra Club's website for advertising as well.

I am divided on the Mariner. On the one hand, it looks very stylish, and is a hybrid SUV. On the other, I see too much Ford Escape. Do not get me wrong, the Ford Escape is a decent small SUV. It is very popular and for good reason. I am just not sure about spending $29,840 for one. It is more reasonably priced than the Prius and the Toyota SUVs. I am sure there are some quality details (real or imagined) that prevent it from reaching Toyota?s quality standards.

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