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Click on the photo for a gallery of the 2008 Mariner in action

Ford provided the journalists assembled in Dearborn the chance to drive many of their 2008 models back-to-back with their 2007 equivalents so that the new models' improvements could be experienced firsthand. Among the vehicles available to us were Ford's compact crossovers, the Escape and Mariner. AutoblogGreen recently did a full review of the 2008 Escape Hybrid that you can check to find out what it's like to live with. We'll focus here on the improvements made to the '08s in general.

Out front, the new Mariner has a much more distinct and upscale face compared to the Escape. While the Escape is styled with more of a family resemblance to the big F-Series trucks, with a bumper that stands in front of the grille, the Mariner sports the Mercury family's vertical bar grille, sharing itd DNA with the Milan and new Sable. It flows all the way down to the bottom of the bumper and definitely looks more carlike than Escape. Once you climb inside, everything else applies equally to both the Mariner and Escape the driving experience is identical, save for some color/trim differences.

Check out our impressions of the Mariners old and new along with a video after the jump.

Interestingly, the interior of the older Mariner actually looks a little more upscale than the new one. The plastic surface has a faux leather texture to it. Like the new models, all the surfaces are hard plastic aside from the ones that drivers and passengers touch on a regular basis, such as the armrests. For a smaller vehicle like the Mariner, the center stack looks enormous and seems to intrude on front occupant space. The suspension of the older model also felt a bit under-damped and a little bouncy over even the small undulations of the road surface.

'07 interior on the top and '08 on the bottom

Getting into the new model, the look is completely overhauled. The design looks more trucklike and utilitarian and the surface textures definitely don't look (or feel) like luxury. There is also the issue we pointed out in the ABG review of all the different color texture combinations visible from the driver seat, with at least seven being visible in our tester. The new dashboard design does give a much-improved feeling of roominess, being further away from the front seat occupants, with a narrower center stack adding to the impression.

On the road, the improvements are even more palpable with the new model being vastly improved in almost every way. The old model didn't feel as solid and road imperfections seem to be amplified by the structure. Actually, it wasn't all that bad until compared directly to the new version. The 2008 Mariner feels almost tank-like, with every outside influence feeling and sounding much more muted. The dash may not look all that luxurious but the driving experience is much more in line with competitors from Japan. The best part is that Ford achieved all of this without adding any weight.

The drivetrain options on the twins haven't changed, but they have been refined to get better fuel efficiency. The hybrids, in particular, have received a fourteen percent improvement in that regard. In the ABG review, a loaded Escape hybrid managed 30mpg during a week of mixed driving, which is pretty impressive for an upright SUV-type vehicle.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      I agree with you RYAN.

      Finally intelligent someone comments in the matter.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The interrior is sublime! They both look incredible actually!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ford (or all the media outlets, maybe, but it's probably Ford - try putting the old ugly tan interior next to the new tan interior) seems obsessed with the tan interior, but the darker interiors seem MUCH nicer. The dark grey on black that you can get on the '08s is very nice and makes the interior look $2000 nicer. But I think it does on ANY car, not just these guys.
      • 8 Years Ago
      In the non-navigation center stack, the stereo controls have no LCD...wait, there it is, above the vents, a mile away from the buttons! The Tribeca did that too...the question is, why not put them in the same place?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Do you think perhaps they did this so you don't have to take your eyes off the road very much to see your adjustments?? Hello??????
      • 8 Years Ago
      Why does everyone say Mercury is for women? Just because they have a hot model in the commercials does not mean it's a womens car brand, If they put a hot model in the commercials that should get guys attention not women.

      If a guy likes a Mercury he should buy it instead of getting a Ford just because you drive a Mercury does not make you less a man.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The new 2008 Mariner is a very attractive vehicle with its toothy grill.

      Too bad that Mercury is turning into a chick brand, because a lot of men wouldn't consider purchasing it even though the vehicles are much more handsome than its blue oval counterparts.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The 2008 Mercury Mariner is beautiful. The 2008 Mercury Mariner fascinates me, is the best small size SUV that I have seen.

        • 8 Years Ago
        Mercury has been a chick brand for years. They have had female spokespeople for just as long. Who do you think the 1989 Cougar was designed for? No man in their right mind would have driven one of them.

        The current vehicles are okay - but that Mariner front end has way too much going on. I definitely think the three-part air intake below the lights and grill looks completely out of place, and reminds me of 1990s Ford products. It's too big and can't decide if it's trying to look sporty or luxurious. The rest of the vehicle including the interior is really nice.
        • 8 Years Ago
        Tool must not remember - or is too young to remember, one - when Kate Jackson did ads for Mercury back in the mid- to late-1980s ...

        And if Mercury is becoming a 'chick brand,' so what? Women have money to spend, too; why shouldn't Ford go after it? Is Toyota a 'chick brand' because so many women buy Camrys and Siennas?

        Besides, what difference does it make who does the ads? If you want the vehicle, go buy it.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Isn't the Mariner built on the Mazda platform. And where is it built Mexico?
      • 7 Years Ago
      What idiot would believe that the cars are made or designed for sexes in specific???!!!

      It is absurd. A person can buy the car that wants.
      • 8 Years Ago

      I don't understand all the talk of hard plastics. All cars of this price range have hard plastic in the interiors.

      My job gives me the opportunity to sample many different makes of vehicles. There's not one in this price range that doesn't have hard plastics. No one plastic in these vehicles seems better than another. I was in a Prius the other day and the whole interior is hard plastic, the same as a Chevy HHR, as a PT and the CRV (06 model).

      If you move up the price scale you start to see a difference in materials. But all these cars have hard plastics...so why even bother mentioning it?
      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree Kyle going from an 07 Escape to an 07 Mariner was like night and day. The mariner interior feels so much more solid and looks so much better and upscale. I could not believe it was the same vehicle. I am not sure how much I like the new 08 interiors. I do see a lot of new Escapes and I like the new exterior look but the interior is just okay at this point to me. Of course, I havent been inside a new Mariner just ye so no comment for now.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Thats not the 2008 Mariners Interior thats a Ford Escape Interior the Mariners looks much different color and trim wise.

      And I think the 2007 Mercury Mariners interior looks better than 2008 Ford Escapes.
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