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MERCURY MARINER BOASTS STYLISH LOOK, NEW SAFETY

By NBF NEWS
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2011 Mercury Mariner
The 2010 Mercury Mariner stands out for its attractive exterior and new safety features.

The Mariner comes in two trims — the base model and the Premier, which adds several features. It is also available as a hybrid model, which is reviewed separately.

It has some desirable attributes, particularly in the technology arena with optional features including a rearview camera system, Active Park Assist (for parallel parking) and an integrated blind spot mirror.

'The Mercury Mariner, which shares its platform with the Ford Escape, continues with many mechanical improvements aimed at more power, better fuel economy and better drivability,' says Cars.com.

The vehicle's styling boasts refined, clean elements and a bright chrome waterfall grill. 'Wearing all-new sheetmetal, the Mariner now features a much more prominent waterfall grill that apes the single-frame grille treatment found on VW and Audi products,' says Car and Driver. Read More

Auto reviewers have praised its stylish look and well-thought-out storage features. For instance, Edmund says its 'Satin-finish metallic accents and available leather upholstery create an upscale ambiance.' USNewsandRanking, however, notes that a few reviewers have criticised the quality of cabin materials.

But it adds, 'The 2010 Mariner does very well in (US) Federal Government crash tests. The Mariner's list of safety equipment has grown substantially with the addition of several new features including Active Park Assist. Its reliability score shown is the Predicted Reliability rating provided by J.D. Power and Associates. 'This score is based on trending the past three years of historical initial quality and dependability data from J.D. Power's automotive studies, specifically the Vehicle Dependability Study and the Initial Quality Study. Mercury supports the Mariner with a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty.'

It is credited as having fortified engines. The 240-horsepower V6 is bested by segment luminaries like Toyota's 268-hp Rav4 and Chevrolet's 264-hp Equinox, but it's powerful enough to move the Mariner around with decent verve.

The vehicle's fuel economy is solid too, with the front-wheel-drive four-cylinder model delivering a respectable 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.

The availability of Ford's Sync system is another strong selling point, particularly with the new 911 assist and GPS functions (traffic reports and turn-by-turn directions) that run through your paired Bluetooth phone.

The 2010 Mercury Mariner compact SUV is available in four trim levels: I4, V6, Premier I4 and Premier V6. The base I4 Mariner comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, foglights, privacy glass, full power accessories, air-conditioning, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a four-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio.

The V6 includes all of the base I4's standard equipment plus the 3.0-litre V6 engine. The Premier I4 model adds rear parking sensors, ambient interior lighting, heated front seats, leather upholstery (Alcantara inserts are a no-cost option), a power driver seat, a six-speaker stereo, Sync and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Premier V6 model pairs the Premier I4's standard content with the six-cylinder engine.

Options on non-Premier models include a roof rack, a moonroof, Sync, leather upholstery, a power driver seat and ambient interior lighting.

Among the options on Premier models are 17-inch wheels, step bars, a back-up camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, the Auto Park system that steers the car automatically while parallel parking, full Alcantara upholstery, a sunroof, an upgraded seven-speaker stereo system and a hard-drive-based navigation system with music storage, Sirius Travel Link and real-time traffic.

The vehicle's new Auto Park system that blissfully takes the guesswork out of parallel parking, standard MyKey (which allows parents to set electronic limits for vehicle speed and stereo volume for their teenage driver), excellent crash test scores and the availability of a hybrid model (reviewed separately).

However, the problem with the 2010 Mercury Mariner is that it's an 'on-paper' kind of vehicle. It has a lot of strengths, but spend some quality time with the Mariner and you'll realise that Mercury has not taught this old dog enough new tricks.

In the area of performance, the 2010 Mercury Mariner is available with either front- or all-wheel drive. The base 2.5-litre inline-four generates 171 hp and 171 pound-feet of torque, while the uplevel 3.0-litre V6 cranks out 240 hp and 223 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with six-speed automatic transmissions.

Its other safety features include antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length head curtain airbags with a rollover sensor.

The Mariner earned a perfect five stars from the government in both front and side crash tests. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Mariner scored the highest rating of 'Good' in the frontal-offset and side tests.

The 2010 Mercury Mariner feels reasonably secure during quick changes of direction, and its ride quality is pleasantly supple.

Performance from either engine is satisfactory, and the six-speed automatic transmission provides smooth shifts. Braking distances are unacceptably long, however, and in general the Mariner lacks that extra dynamic something that would distinguish it from other compact SUVs.