2005 Mariner New Car Test Drive
Compact sport utility vehicles are popular because they are smaller and easier to park than midsize SUVs like the Ford Explorer. They're also lighter and have more fuel-efficient engines and, of course, they're less expensive. Yet they offer the utility of cargo space with fold-down back seats and that commanding view of the road that comes with a higher seating position.
The new 2005 Mercury Mariner is based on the Ford Escape, hailed for its responsive handling, smooth road manners and available V6 engine.
Mariner comes standard with front-wheel drive (2WD) and a four-cylinder engine. It's easily and affordably upgraded with all-wheel drive (4WD) for stable traction in the snow and a powerful V6 for more responsive performance.
The 2005 Mercury Mariner boasts a slick and clean design, with avant-garde styling cues. Inside is a pleasant and calming cabin with room enough for the kind of stuff people who are moving up from the Sable or retreating from the more truck-like Mountaineer need to haul around.
As part of a carefully scripted, and enormously expensive, re-birth and rejuvenation of the Mercury brand, the Mariner is intended to offer a step up in status over the Ford Escape.
It's a nice package. The size and basics are right. Fuel economy is respectable, and it's affordable even when fully optioned.
The Mercury Mariner is available with a choice of four-cylinder and V6 engines. All models come with a four-speed automatic transmission.
The Convenience model ($21,405) features comforts expected in prestige brand vehicles. Among them: air conditioning; power windows, mirrors and central locking; solar-tinted side glass; four-speaker stereo with CD-player; cruise control; and leather-wrapped, tilt steering wheel. Seats are upholstered in cloth, however, and the front seats are manually adjustable. The air conditioning is manual, too, and there's no upgrade to automatic climate control available, not even on the Premier. The Convenience model comes with the 153-horsepower four-cylinder engine. All-wheel drive is available ($23,155), which Mercury calls intelligent four-wheel drive.
The Luxury model ($22,995) comes the more powerful, 200-horsepower V6 and privacy glass. Options include leather-trimmed upholstery ($1,050). The Comfort package ($500) includes automatic headlamps, electrochromic inside rearview mirror, overhead console, message center with compass and illuminated vanity mirrors. The Luxury Enhancement package ($595) buys a six-disc in-dash CD changer, a power driver's seat with lumbar, and a perimeter anti-theft alarm system. Other options: a Class II Trailer Tow package ($350) with hitch and four-pin connector, and a power moonroof ($895) that includes a roof rack with cross bars. All-wheel drive is available ($24,745).
Premier ($24,745) is the top of the line, adding to the Luxury array of options a seven-speaker stereo with subwoofer; heated outside mirrors and driver's seat; power-adjustable front seats; a premium, suede-like upholstery; and polished wheels. Optional is a reverse-sensing system ($255). All-wheel drive is available ($26,495).
Options across the line include a Rear Cargo Convenience package with retractable cargo cover and cargo management gear ($135); roof rack with cross bars ($160); and side step bars ($325).
Safety features that come standard include dual two-stage frontal airbags; antilock brakes (ABS) with Brake Assist; and Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH). Side curtain airbags for head protection and front seat-mounted side-impact airbags for torso protection are optional ($595).