Consulting firm Autopacific and car buying information web site Intellichoice.com have given a "Motorist's Choice Award" to Ford for the Mercury Mariner Hybrid at this week's Orange County Auto Show. The choice was based on cost of ownership data generated by Intellichoice and customer satisfaction survey data from Autopacific. The companies designed the award criteria to recognize vehicles that provide high owner satisfaction and low operating costs. The Mariner and its Ford twin, the Escape, are currently the only Ford vehicles with hybrid power-trains and were the first domestic-brand hybrids. They will be joined by hybrid versions of the new Mercury Milan and Ford Edge for the 2008 model year. The Ford press release is after the jump.

[Source: Ford Motor Co]


MERCURY MARINER HYBRID "MOTORIST'S CHOICE AWARD" LATEST IN SIGNIFICANT MILESTONES AND AWARDS

Lew Echlin, California Regional Marketing Manager, Ford Motor Company (center) accepts the "Motorist's Choice Award" for the Mercury Mariner Hybrid at the Orange County Auto Show from Dan Hall, AutoPacific (l) and James Bell, IntelliChoice.com (r)

* Mercury Mariner Hybrid named "Motorist's Choice" for compact SUV, based on cost-of-ownership data from IntelliChoice.com and customer-satisfaction surveys from AutoPacific
* Custom Mariner Hybrid delivered to former President Bill Clinton was the first hybrid vehicle outfitted for presidential service
* Mariner Hybrid also recently named the Green Car Journal's "Green Car of the Year," one of Edmunds.com's Most Fuel Efficient SUVs and Pickups, and "Best Compact SUV" by both Texas Auto Writers Association and ForbesAuto.com

ANAHEIM , Calif. , Oct. 4, 2006 – Today, the Mercury Mariner Hybrid was awarded as the first Motorist's Choice Award for compact SUVs by IntelliChoice.com and AutoPacific, and is the only hybrid vehicle to be included on their inaugural awards list.

The Motorist's Choice Award will be added to the long list of milestones the Mariner Hybrid has achieved since its introduction in November 2005, including being the first hybrid vehicle fit for presidential service, and being named the first "Green Car of the Year" by Green Car Journal.

"The Motorist's Choice Award is a testament to the Mercury Mariner Hybrid's distinctive design, SUV versatility and the hybrid technology," says Mike Richards, general marketing manager, Lincoln Mercury. "The Mariner Hybrid offers customers an unmatched combination of economic value, environmental benefit, and emotional appeal."

Ford Motor Company has received more than 150 patents on the Mariner Hybrid's hybrid powertrain system, which blends the best features of a gasoline engine and an electric motor. When the output of the 2.3-liter gasoline is not needed – during coasting, idling at stoplights, or crawling through slow traffic – the gasoline engine automatically shuts off. On demand, the gasoline engine and electric motor automatically team up to deliver maximum acceleration or passing performance. As a result, the Mariner Hybrid delivers comparable acceleration and passing performance to the conventional Mariner equipped with a 200 horsepower V-6 engine, and nearly a 50 percent increase in fuel economy.

The Mariner is joined by range of clean, fuel-efficient efficient Mercury vehicles. The full-size Mercury Montego delivers an impressive 29 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway, thanks to a fuel-efficient powertrain that features either a six-speed automatic or continuously variable transmission. The Mercury Milan PZEV emits zero evaporative emissions and 80 percent fewer smog-forming emissions than the average 2007 model year vehicle . In 2008, the Milan will also be available with a full-hybrid powertrain.

"The Mariner Hybrid is just one example of how Mercury is contributing to Ford Motor Company's goal of delivering 'greener miles,'" says Richards. "We will continue to offer cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles that save our customers money at the pump, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

Motorists' Choice Award

IntelliChoice.com and AutoPacific created the Motorist's Choice Awards to recognize the vehicles that deliver both the highest owner satisfaction and lowest cost of ownership. For the Motorist's Choice Awards, vehicles are ranked by selected owner satisfaction data from AutoPacific surveys of new car and light truck buyers and IntelliChoice.com's rating methodology.

AutoPacific surveys 45 different vehicle ownership attributes, and of these, 38 product-focused attributes were used. These ratings were merged with seven attributes of cost-ownership addressed by IntelliChoice.com: depreciation, financing, fuel, insurance, maintenance, repairs and state fees.

"While the economic analysis of car ownership remains very important - it can save or cost you thousands of dollars over the life of the vehicle - it is also important to recognize owner satisfaction as another significant influencer in vehicle purchases," said James Bell, publisher of IntelliChoice.com. "With these awards, we have identified the vehicles that delight emotionally and economically - key points to consider when buying a vehicle."

First Hybrid Outfitted for Presidential Service

Recently, Ford Motor Company delivered a customized Mariner Hybrid "Presidential Edition" to former President Bill Clinton – the first hybrid vehicle to be outfitted for presidential service.

The custom interior of the Presidential Mariner Hybrid emphasizes the comfort, convenience and productivity of an executive office, with details such as unique LED lighting, a 110-volt outlet and a new writing table. The Mariner Hybrid's full-hybrid powertrain was unchanged, preserving its impressive 32 mpg in city driving, 29 mpg on the highway, and ultra-clean emissions.

The development of the Presidential Mariner Hybrid is a showcase of Ford's and the Clinton Foundation's commitment to innovation in the areas of energy and climate change. Earlier this month, President Clinton announced the formation of the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), a project of his foundation that is dedicated to making a difference in the fight against climate change in practical and measurable ways.

Additional Milestones and Accolades

The Motorist's Choice Award presented by IntelliChoice.com and AutoPacific will join an already crowded trophy case for the Mariner Hybrid, which also includes:

* Mercury Mariner Hybrid also received the Green Car Journal's inaugural "Green Car of the Year" award in, designed to recognize environmental leadership in the automotive industry.
* The Mariner Hybrid was named one of the top 30 environmentally friendly vehicles in the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Alternative Powertrain Study.
* The 2005 Mariner Hybrid was named the "Best Compact SUV" by both the Texas Auto Writers Association and ForbesAuto.com.
* The Mariner Hybrid, along with Ford Escape Hybrid, also topped Edmunds' list of Most Fuel Efficient SUVs and Pickups for 2005.

The Mariner Hybrid is built at the Kansas City Assembly Plant. Pricing for the 2007 Mariner Hybrid starts at a manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP) of $28,600, including destination and delivery.



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