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FIRST TEST: 2008 MARINER HYBRID

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Apr 14, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

THE ENERGIZER CROSSOVER By Kurt Fuhrman

All right, what ever happened to the fifty-cent price for a gallon of gas? For that matter, where did the one-dollar-a-gallon of gas go? Apparently these are moot questions, especially when gas prices are on the way to a staggering $4.00 per gallon of gas and maybe more expensive very soon. Fred Flintstone may have had the right idea: No gasoline needed. Just hop in your car, run fast, and go If showing up at the office with worn out tennis shoes is not your style, perhaps the economist approach is a better alternative. With gas prices on a fast train to the moon, the modern-day economic approach is to search for the gas station with the cheapest price. This approach helps save a few dollars here and there, but is no significant breakthrough in the war against gas prices.

Mercury has a different solution in the form of the 2008 Mariner hybrid SUV. This SUV proudly boasts an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) miles per gallon rating of 34 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. No, this is not a typo. Remember, this Mariner is a hybrid - and around town, the use of the 70 kw permanent magnetic AC battery motor is more in use. On the highway, the 2.3-liter DOHC gas engine is used more. This Mercury appears to be a better alternative to driving slower, gas station hunting, or switching between octanes just to conserve fuel (by the way, the Mariner Hybrid operates fine on regular unleaded gasoline). This hybrid deserves a better look. The 2.3-liter Atkinson cycle gas engine produces 133 horsepower at 6000 rpm. Even at full throttle, it doesn't exactly snap my neck back or suck my body into the seat. As a matter of fact, the acceleration reminds me of the storybook about the little engine that could. However, in all fairness, this hybrid's purpose is to conservation of our limited supply of that precious petroleum. If I want raw horsepower, I'd look for a hotter rod But, with all the horses under the hood, I would also be looking for gas stations on a regular basis. Speaking of horses, the Mariner seems to act like a racehorse. Not because of its get-up-and-go speed, but because it seems to have side blinders like a racehorse. Whereas, the racehorse blinders help the jockey maintain the horse around d the track, the Mariner acts like it has side blinders because the driver can ignor the gas stations. This hybrid just kept going and going, like the Energizer bunny. All I can say is thank heavens for this. I went to visit a long-distance friend of mine 90 miles away. Factoring in getting lost along the way, I ended up traveling 210 miles by the time I got back home. The amazing part of this is that I still had a half a tank of gas after starting with a full 15 gallons. This half tank supported several more excursions before a gas stop. I averaged 32.8 mpg combined city and highway driving. This was a nice experience. The Mariner drinks gas about as much as a two-humped camel drinks water.

The 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid is exceptional on gas, but it also handles quite admirably. The front-wheel drive, front independent Macpherson strut with stabilizer bar and a set of nice size P235/70/R16 tires all combining to hold the Mariner on the road. I experienced this fortitude through the winding Malibu canyon pass to the beach. The same confidence was experienced traveling through the winding roads of Topanga canyon. In addition to the Mariner's handling capabilities is an array of safety features such as four-wheel power disc brakes with four-channel ABS, dual front airbags, and (optional)_safety canopy system. Mercury not only wants one to enjoy the ride, they also want to make sure your get home safe. This Mariner has the leather package, navigation system, and an in-dash 6-disc CD with MP3. The interior is nicely equipped and has plenty of comfortable room for four adults plus some luggage. Throughout my excursions, the driver's seat remains comfortable, and with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, my hands do not tire. This small hybrid SUV is a comfortable ride, safe, and best of all (my favorite), an exceptionally fuel-efficient means of transportation - a step up from the original hybrid models yesteryear.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT The reasons to go green are still going strong. With the 2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid, the most fuel-efficient SUV on the road is better than ever. For more information about Mercury products, go to www.lincolnmercury.com.

SPECIFICATIONS Price: Base $25,765.00 as tested $31,000.00 Engine Type: Gasoline 2.3L I-4 16 valve Atkinson Cycle Electric Permanent magnetic AC synchronous motor 70kw @ 5,000rpm Horsepower 133 @ 6,000 rpm Torque 124 lbs-ft @ 4,250 rpm Drive Configuration Front engine/front wheel drive Transmission type Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transaxle (eCVT) Suspension Front Independent Macpherson Struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar Rear Independent, with lateral links, and trailing arm design Wheel and tires 16-inch, 5-spoke aluminum wheels P235/70R 16 all-season BSW tires Brakes Four wheel power brakes with 4-sensor, 4 channel ABS and integrated regenerative braking Front 10.93-inch vented disc Rear 11.89-inch disc Overall length 175.2 inches Overall width 71.1 inches and including mirrors 81.3 inches Overall height 68.0 inches EPA mileage estimates City/Highway 34/30

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