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2010 Mercury Mariner ReviewThe Good
Actual V6 power and a six-speed automatic were exactly what the Mercury Mariner needed, and together with all-wheel drive and the vehicle's expansive room, make 2010 a great year to grab one.The Bad
Its four-cylinder engine is slightly underpowered and seriously unrefined, and when coupled with its lackluster interior, the '10 Mariner lacks the chops to back up its pretensions.
The CarGurus View
The extra money you'll spend to get a 2010 Mercury Mariner over a Ford Escape or Mazda Tribute simply isn’t worth it, especially considering the chassis is a design coming up on 10 years old. If you must get one, go with the V6, and perhaps even the all-wheel drive, depending on your climate. Still, it might be best to wait for the next redesign and see if Mercury sorts enough of the problems out to make the Mariner's higher price worth it.
At a Glance
The Mercury Mariner was introduced in 2005 as an upscale sibling to the Mazda Tribute and Ford Escape. The chassis of the Mariner, shared by all three models, has seen duty in the Escape unchanged since 2001. In 2009, the two available engines, a four- and six-cylinder, saw some impressive power and displacement increases, with the four going from a 153-hp 2.3-liter to a 171-hp 2.5 and the 3.0-liter six-cylinder gaining 40 hp for a total of 240. Concurrently, the archaic four-speed automatic was replaced by a six-speed unit, improving fuel efficiency. Available in Base and Premium trims, the Mariner offers front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
The upgrade to a six-speed automatic transmission was long-awaited, as was the power increase both engines saw in 2009. With that, the base four-cylinder engine grew to a 2.5-liter unit pumping out 171 hp. In front-wheel-drive guise, the four-cylinder has an EPA estimate of 20/28 mpg, a figure that drops to 19/25 with AWD. The engine has adequate power, even for AWD, and a 1,500-pound maximum towing capacity, although it’s intrusively buzzy when laboring and merely annoyingly so at lower rpm.
The 240-hp, 3.0-liter V6 is a sprightly unit, offering ample power and a 3,500-pound maximum towing capacity. EPA estimates put the front-wheel-drive version at 18/26, while AWD trims top out at 17/24, all mated to the six-speed automatic. That transmission has received much praise, both for its smoothness and its quick ability to find the right gear to deliver adequate power in a timely manner.
Ride & Handling
The ride and handling of the 2010 Mercury Mariner are a bit of a mixed bag. While certainly not a disappointment, with controlled lean and roll and impressive impact-absorption, its design is still coming up on a decade old. As such, there’s plenty of room for improvement, especially in regard to highway handling and steering that has been called “cloudy at speed” by owners.
Still, the Mariner surpasses its class standards with regards to overall ride and handling and offers an impressive turning radius of 18.35 feet.
Cabin & Comfort
Again an exercise in contradiction, the Mariner is marketed as a more upscale version of the Escape and Tribute, but fails to live up to those pretensions. The interior’s seemingly sole upgrade is a two-tone layout that is unfortunately made up predominantly of hard, cheap, and sometimes ill-fitting plastics. Many owners and testers alike have found mismatched surfaces and misaligned joints.
That said, the controls themselves are generally well-placed and intuitive, with some minor exceptions. Most issues can be combated by using another of the vehicle’s systems, such as Ford’s Sync voice command system, although one has to consider the fact that you shouldn’t have to bypass or otherwise circumvent your vehicle’s controls just for ease of use.
Space, at least, is abundant for both passengers and cargo, although the rear seats fail to fold flat, curiously. Still, a low deck height and a rear liftgate that also includes opening glass offers convenient storage. Occupants will similarly find a wealth of space, hampered only by the addition of the sunroof.
Safety options are not lacking in the Mariner, with dual front, front-side, and full curtain-side airbags that benefit from rollover deployment, as well as antilock brakes with anti-skid, a tire-pressure monitor, traction control, electronic stability control, and a brake/shift interlock.
The NHTSA has awarded the Mariner five stars in all tests excepting rollover resistance, in which the Mariner earned three stars.
What Owners Think
Owners were very happy with the upgrades 2009 brought to the Mercury Mariner's drivetrain, however many have been disappointed by the interior materials and finish, especially given the vehicle's price point. However, comfort and performance have not been a weak point of the vehicle and have provided plenty of utility for owners.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.
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