Three years after its introduction, the 2008 Mercury Mariner gets a freshly redesigned interior and exterior. An upscale sibling of the Ford Escape, the compact Mariner classifies as a five-passenger SUV available with front drive or all-wheel drive. In spite of the recent face-lift, 2008 Mariner uses the same set of engines. Base models offer either engine, while a top-level Premier trim boasts the V-6 and a longer list of luxury features. For a small SUV, the Mariner feels comfortable and surprisingly spacious. However, when compared with competing vehicles, its driving dynamics and fuel economy look average at best.
Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 2.3-liter four-cylinder, 3.0-liter V-6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic
Models: Mercury Mariner, Mercury Mariner V6, Mercury Mariner Premier
The 2008 Mercury Mariner debuts a fresh look inside and out. On the interior, the Mariner receives new two-tone seats, a larger center console, an “Ice Blue"" instrument panel, and updated trim. The exterior boasts more aggressive styling, new lights, and a classic Mercury waterfall grille. A redesigned windshield and a roof panel improve insulation against road noise. Underpinnings remain mostly the same, except for the questionable addition of rear drum brakes in place of 2007’s rear disc brakes in all but the Mercury Mariner V6 AWD.
A recent face-lift gives the 2008 Mercury Mariner a sportier appearance with a taller stance, revised fasciae, and a more pronounced grille. The base Mariner and Mariner V6 come standard with 16-inch painted alloy wheels, privacy glass, fog lights, variable intermittent windshield wipers, a rear window wiper, a rear defogger, a rear liftgate door with a manual flip-up window, and cargo tie-downs. The Mariner Premier gains rear parking sensors. Options available for all Mariners include 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, a towing package, and (with the standard 16-inch wheels) a full-size spare tire.
The 2008 Mercury Mariner measures 175.2 inches long, 68 inches tall, and 71.1 inches wide. Ground clearance totals 8.4 inches.
The Mercury Mariner features a freshly designed cabin with an elegant and functional layout. New features include metallic trim, a surprisingly spacious center console with removable bins, and updated upholstery.
The base Mariner and Mariner V6 come standard with cloth seating, bolstered front bucket seats, a leather tilt-adjustable steering wheel with cruise control, a split-folding rear seatback, digital power door locks, one-touch power windows, retained accessory power, front and rear 12-volt power outlets, air-conditioning, front and rear floor mats, a clock, a trip computer, a low-fuel-level warning, and a four-speaker audio system with single-disc CD player and MP3 playback. Upgrading to the Premier adds two-toned leather and Alcantara upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and an in-dash CD changer. Options for the 2008 Mercury Mariner include heated front seats, satellite radio, a premium 320-watt sound system, and a DVD-based navigation system.
The Mariner’s front-seat occupants receive 40.4 inches of headroom, 41.6 inches of legroom, and 53.4 inches of hip room, while rear-seat passengers get 39.2 inches of headroom, 35.6 inches of legroom, and 49.1 inches of hip room. With all seats in place, cargo space falls slightly below average, totaling 29 cubic feet. Folding the second row increases volume to 66 cubic feet. However, some may find flipping the second row forward to be a hassle, as the headrests must be removed and the seat cushions pulled forward before folding the bench flat.
Performance & Handling
The base 2008 Mercury Mariner draws power from a 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine that produces 153 horsepower and 152 lb-ft of torque, while the V6 and Premier trims come equipped with a three-liter V-6 rated for 200 horses and 193 lb-ft. Both engines pair with a mandatory four-speed automatic transmission. All versions of the Mariner offer the choice of front drive or all-wheel drive. When fitted with the towing package, the Mercury Mariner pulls a maximum load of 3500 pounds.
While the Mariner’s acceleration and driving dynamics prove decent, many competitors in the growing compact SUV segment surpass the Mariner. Most rivals offer more powerful engines, versatile transmissions, and carlike handling. In comparison, the Mariner feels sluggish and truck-like. Some buyers may also find fault with the rear drum brakes, which increase braking distance considerably.
Standard safety equipment on the 2008 Mercury Mariner includes front and rear head airbags, dual front side-mounted airbags, a rollover sensor, stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, and tire pressure monitoring. The Premier trim adds reverse parking sensors.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercury Mariner front drive: 20/26 mpg city/highway
Mercury Mariner all-wheel drive: 19/24 mpg city/highway
Mercury Mariner V6 front drive: 18/24 mpg city/highway
Mercury Mariner Premier front drive: 18/24 mpg city/highway
Mercury Mariner V6 all-wheel drive: 17/22 mpg city/highway
Mercury Mariner Premier (AWD): 17/22 mpg city/highway
- Fresh design
- Comfortable cabin
- Attractive interior
- Responsive steering
You Won't Like
- Limited engine choices
- Subpar fuel economy
- Disappointing brakes
- No third row
Classy compact SUV gets interior face-lift.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Toyota RAV4
- Honda CR-V
- Mitsubishi Outlander
- Ford Escape