The base engine on the Mariner is now a 171-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, combined with either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, while the available 240-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 comes solely with the six-speed automatic. Both engines have variable intake timing for improved response through the entire rev range without a sacrifice in fuel efficiency. Front-wheel drive is
standard with either engine, but a road-friendly all-wheel drive system is available as well.
Although the Mariner appears truck-like on the outside, its suspension and steering are tuned to emphasize on-road performance. The four-wheel independent suspension has been retuned for better comfort and handling, and its very compact outward dimensions make it very maneuverable; the high seating position also helps in parking lots and congested streets. The Mariner has an electric power-steering system that also helps reduce fuel consumption over traditional hydraulic power steering, and for 2009 it's been retuned for a sportier, more confident feel.
Along with anti-lock brakes, Ford's AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control is standard on all Mariners; the safety-minded system helps maintain stability and is especially configured to avoid the risk of rollover. Front and side-curtain airbags are also standard equipment.
The Hybrid model now has a larger 2.5-liter engine that operates on a leaner Atkinson combustion cycle. It's paired with an electric motor system and additional components to produce 177 horsepower altogether and yet get fuel economy that approaches 30 mpg. The hybrid system has been retuned this year for smoother operation when braking or transitioning between electric and gasoline power.
The seats on all Mariners have been redesigned and now include environmentally friendly soy-based seat foam, while the seat fabric for the cloth seats is now made from 100-percent recycled materials. As in most utility vehicles, the back seats in the Mariner fold forward for expanded cargo space--made especially useful by the Mariner's tall, boxy body.
The Mariner comes in three different trims, a base model and the very well-equipped Premier. All Mariners have a generous list of standard equipment, including steering-wheel audio controls, an auxiliary input jack, and a handy 110-volt AC outlet, plus air conditioning, keyless entry, and a four-speaker CD sound system. The Premier models step up to machined aluminum wheels, leather seats with Alcantara inserts, a roof rack, a trip computer, ambient interior lighting and an upgraded sound system with CD changer and Sirius satellite radio. New this year is a Hybrid Limited model that adds heated seats, a power moonroof and SecuriCode entry.
Sync, a voice-activated Bluetooth and USB interface for phones and entertainment devices, was co-developed with Microsoft and is an exclusive in Ford products such as the Mariner through the 2009 model year. It's standard on the Premier and available on the base model. Other standout features include a voice-activated navigation system with Sirius Travel Link live traffic information, reverse sensors,
heated seats and mirrors, dual-zone climate control, and a seven-speaker Audiophile sound system.