2009 Mariner Hybrid – Click above for high-res image gallery Ford took pride in being the first automaker on the planet to offer a hybrid utility vehicle when it introduced the first battery-assisted Ford Escape in mid-2004. The Escape hybrid has had mixed success over the past few years, but with gas prices hitting $4 per gallon, the Blue Oval is selling every unit it can produce. For the 2008 model year, one in eight Escape sales are hybrids, which is impressive when you consider that it averages $30,000 per vehicle. In 2006, the Escape was joined by the lower volume Mariner Hybrid, giving Ford two entries in the hybrid soft-roader market, and a green model to sell at Lincoln-Mercury dealerships. The Escape got a thorough makeover on the outside for 2008, but most of the mechanicals remain a carryover from the previous generation. For 2009, Ford finished the job on the Escape and its sheet metal sibling from Mercury and the hybrid models followed suit. The changes include a new engine that provides more power and improved efficiency, some cosmetic tweaks, and several technological upgrades. Ford is betting that the changes will improve their footing in the green scene, so we took a loaded Mercury Mariner hybrid into the Autoblog Garage to see if the fuel-sipping CUV could win us over. %Gallery-26048% All photos Copyright ©2008 Chris Shunk / Weblogs, Inc. Our loaded Light Ice Blue tester came equipped with leather seats, moon roof, Travel Link navigation, and a rearview camera, bring the grand total of the luxo-hybrid to a husky $33,000. But according to Mercury, buyers will be able to achieve over 30 mpg in mixed driving without having to sacrifice ride quality, refinement or aesthetics, something that's sure to please both soccer moms and the Sierra Club. The Mariner Hybrid's new powertrain is a 2.5L four-cylinder running on the Atkinson cycle, which is mated to the same CVT as the last-generation model. The new mill is essentially a bored-out version of the outgoing 2.3L, though Ford added variable intake timing to improve power and refinement. The new engine is much smoother and more powerful than the previous powerplant, though fuel economy doesn't suffer as a result. The Mariner Hybrid keeps the holdover 330-volt Nickel Metal Hydride battery pack, though the energy-capturing electric brake system is new, recharging the battery pack, and unlike the outgoing model, it allows for stability and traction control. The tinkering didn't end with the powertrain, either. Ford also added high-strength steel to the A-pillar, frame rails and cross members, which stiffens the Mariner's structure while providing a more comfortable ride around town. Several software enhancements were added to better-optimize efficiency and to make the shift from engine-power to battery-power and back smoother than before. All those improvements translated well out on Michigan roads, as the 2009 Mariner Hybrid was much more refined than its 2008 predecessor. The new Mariner Hybrid is quieter, the engine turn-off isn't noticable and drivers can now go …
Hide Full Review
Smart Buy Price
|MPG||19 City / 25 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||171 @ 6000 rpm|
Get a surprisingly great rate
It's like a new car for the price of a clunker. Switch & save an average of $587* on car insurance.