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The Mercury Mariner and stablemate the Ford Escape are two small SUV models from Ford, with identical drivetrain options. Ford began offering full hybrid versions of the cars for the 2005 model year.
Styling differentiates the Mercury Mariner Hybrid with the Ford Escape Hybrid, such as the different grille designs.
The 2009 Mariner Hybrid gets a bigger engine than its predecessor, up to 2.5-liters from 2.3-liters. The addition of an electric motor gives the car a net 177 horsepower.
As a small SUV, the Mariner Hybrid has room for five, plus cargo space, with a high driving position.
The Mariner Hybrid is top-heavy, so not designed for spirited driving. The suspension delivers a comfortable ride.
The back glass opens independently from the tailgate, making access easy.
Opening the tailgate allows full access to the cargo area, a space that can be increased by folding down the second row seats.
The Mariner Hybrid isn't that much more luxurious than the Escape Hybrid, but the leather and chrome accents are nice.
The Mariner Hybrid uses electric power steering, helping out the fuel economy. Many new models are coming out with this feature.
When the needle is in the tachometer's green zone, the engine has shut off, usually at a stop light or in traffic.
As with most full hybrids, the Mariner Hybrid uses a continuously variable transmission, delivering smooth acceleration.
The voice button on the steering wheel activates the car's Sync system, which lets you play music just by saying an artist's name.
This power flow animation shows the car working in hybrid mode, drawing power from both the engine and electric motor.
Maps are rich and colorful, and include useful information such as traffic flow on major roads.
We like this simple onscreen keyboard method of address entry.
Sirius Travel Link brings in weather information, complete with a five day forecast and a weather map for the whole country.
One key feature of Sirius Travel Link are fuel prices, which can be sorted by cheapest to most expensive.
The system also includes movie times, making it particularly easy to plan impromptu outings.
The Sync Bluetooth phone system is very good. It can import your phone's contact list and give you voice commands for calling friends.
Sirius satellite radio is present, and includes little graphics for the current station.
The single disc slot can read MP3 CDs, but the interface merely shows folders.
The USB port can be used for a USB drive, an iPod, and many other kinds of MP3 players.
The track display shows various information about the currently playing music, and allows access to the Music Library.
In the Music Library, you can choose to browse music by album, artist, and genre, whether your music is on an MP3 player or USB drive.
The premium audio system in the Mariner Hybrid has seven speakers and a subwoofer, but isn't all that good.