>> All right, so they tell me I gotta put Mercury on my list. Let's find out. Checking out the 2008 Mariner Hybrid.
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>> Now since the last time we touched a Mariner, they've done a nice job upgrading the interior. Much richer looking dash and we like the head unit a lot better as well. This one is top of the line because it has navigation as well as the built in 6 disk. Let's check out the map first. The map interface is pretty good. It's not cutting edge by any stretch, but it's a pretty readable map. I don't really dig that diagonal font thing it does when you're rotating around like that. I mean, is that Essex Street or is that East Sex Street? Little hard to read and one that can be embarrassingly misconstrued. But so be it. Beyond that though, the buttonry of it is quite good. You've got a number of dedicated buttons up and down the left side here and then when you get in different modes, you also get nice large touch screen buttons. Here in the audio system for example. Those are easy buttons to hit while you're driving and easy to absorb without taking your eyes off the road for long. So generally, a good thumbs up to this system. We wish the buttons were a little bit smaller in some cases though, because it leaves very little room to give you station information. Whether it Sirius or RDS data, whatever it may be, you've only got a small window here to see what's playing. So that's the price you pay for big button craft on screen. Some other details to tell ya about, we have an auxiliary input jack down here, but there is no true iPod adapter available. You've got a 110 volt optional outlet right here, that's a true 110 running off an inverter. So you don't need anything that's gonna be a car adapter. You just bring your standard at home or at office wall adapter and plug it right in there. Now as I mentioned, no true iPod adapter in this vehicle, but that's where your auxiliary input jack will be your poor man's option. You don't have buttons for the audio system on the steering wheel. That's a really weird omission, especially on a vehicle that's high trim like this. We have the top of the line audio nav system and no buttons on the wheel to control the audio. That's really weird. Down here of course is the automatic transmission gear selector. In this vehicle it's a CVT, the hybrid always has an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. So I'm not gonna tell you how many gears it has because it does and there's no shiftable position. This car is not aimed toward any sport mode driving. Speaking of the power train, let's go under the hood where the story is really interesting. First of all, the gas engine's actually an interesting story. 2.3 liter, in line 4, but it's an Atkinson cycle motor. In this application, that means the intake valve is left open part of the time the piston is on it's way up in the compression stroke. That results in an effectively shorter compression stroke than the power stroke and that yields greater fuel efficiency but at the expense of power. That's where the hybrid part steps in. 94 horsepower electric motor, 133 horsepower gas engine, but the total net power is only 155 horsepower says Ford. You apparently can't just add the two numbers together the way this system works. The bottom line is mileage, 34 city, 30 on the freeway. So let's price out our little green friend. Mariner Hybrid, front wheel drive, bases at 25,700. On top of that, we added the navigation system with the best audio system, that's a bundle for 2000. Sirius, 195 and that cool 110 volt outlet in the console, another 180. So I'm not sure if you gotta put Mercury on your list, but it wouldn't be a bad idea.
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