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2008 Mercury Mountaineer Overview

The 2008 Mountaineer, Mercury's version of the Ford Explorer, carries over from 2007 with only a few new options - a voice-activated Sync communication system and a capless fuel-filter setup that will be available later this year. The Mountaineer is one of the last of the SUV dinosaurs. As such, it receives good marks from reviewers.

The Mountaineer is available in two lines: Base and Premier. The standard engine for Base versions is a 4.0-liter SOHC V6 engine that produces 210 hp. While this same engine is standard in some Premier versions, the higher-end trims are also available with a 4.6-liter SOHC V8 engine that produces 292 hp. Reviewers were divided regarding the V6, some feeling it was adequate for around-town use, while others felt it was sluggish, given the 4,742-pound weight of the Mountaineer.

Both engines are available with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. According to Edmunds, the V8, all-wheel-drive Mountaineer does the 0-60 jump in 8.3 seconds; another reviewer managed it in less than eight seconds, which was still considered slow for its class. Reviewers agree that the V8 is the preferred engine choice, and it allows the Mountaineer to tow up to 7,220 pounds; the V6 is rated for 5,295 pounds. The V6 comes equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission reviewers feel is adequate. They prefer the six-speed automatic transmission that comes with the V8, finding this transmission "smooth" in its overall performance.

Gas mileage, however, was a sore spot with all reviewers. The EPA estimates that the V8 gets 13/20 mpg with rear-wheel drive and 13/19 mpg in the all-wheel drive configuration. Consumer Guide testing averaged 15.1 mpg in the all-wheel-drive V8 Mountaineer.

The Mountaineer's all-wheel-drive system, according to reviewers, was designed primarily for snow-covered and rain-soaked highways, not for rock-strewn off-road terrain. Handling, although better than the Ford Escape's and GMC Envoy's, was still the basic truck-frame SUV style. Reviewers found the Mountaineer's ride supple and adequate on level, straight roads, but when pushed through the corners, like most SUVs, it plows. Brakes are adequate, but have a spongy feel and are prone to fade. Highway cruising was smooth, comfortable, and fairly quiet, with little wind noise.

The Mountaineer's interior is comfortable and spacious, but reviewers found some low-grade materials they felt detracted from Mercury's upscale presentation. This SUV comes in five-, six-, or seven-passenger configurations. Some reviewers found there was ample passenger room, even when configured with three rows of seating. Others, however, found little leg and knee room in the second and third rows, which would present problems for older people riding in back for long periods of time. Yet the Mountaineer's third row provides more legroom than either the Envoy's or the Pathfinder's.

In the seven-passenger configuration, the Mountaineer provides 13.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row; eliminating the third row - by not ordering it or folding it down - produces 45.1 cubic feet of cargo space. With the rear seats folded down in the seven-passenger Mountaineer, 83.7 cubic feet are available, while five-passenger versions offer 85.8 cubic feet.

The Mountaineer provides all the major safety features as standard equipment, including ABS disc brakes, stability control with rollover sensors, and full airbag coverage. It also receives some of the highest governmental safety ratings, with a top score of five stars for both front and side crash tests as well as a "good" from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in frontal offset crash tests, with an "acceptable" for side impact tests.

Overall, reviewers feel the Mountaineer provides spacious passenger capacity and strong towing prowess. However, these positives may be offset by its high cost of ownership, "worse than average" resale, and the advantages of the new generation of car-based crossover SUVs.

Updated by Anonymous

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