The 2009 Mercury Mariner represents "Part 2" in a refresh effort that began with the 2008 model. The compact SUV -- which is Mercury's best-selling vehicle behind the Milan midsize sedan -- received an updated interior and new exterior styling for the 2008 model year, as well as electric power steering, side curtain airbags, and roll-stability control as standard equipment along with a price drop of more than $1000 from similarly-equipped 2007 Mariners.

For 2009, "Part 2" of the refresh for the Mercury (and the Ford Escape twin) begins with more powerful and efficient powertrain options. All Mariners get a 6-speed automatic transmission and the hybrid model gets an upgraded 2.5-liter four cylinder engine adapted to the Atkinson Cycle for fuel economy figures of 30/27 highway (FWD/AWD).

Mercury says that the transition from gas to electric power is almost unnoticeable thanks to advances in engine processor technology. The transition from regenerative to regular braking has been improved as well. A new brake pedal sensor provides better driver feedback while a new damper system reduces feedback and vibrations. Expect to see this hybrid powertrain make its way into Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan sedans soon.

The 2009 Mariner also benefits from retuned suspension and steering systems. The Electric Power Assist Steering, along with low-rolling-resistance tires and the addition of front bumper and rear tire spoilers, help Ford and Mercury eeke out one more mpg from the SUVs. These changes should help the Mercury Mariner catch up in fuel economy with the compact SUV class sales leader, the Honda CR-V.

A capless refueling system, seat fabrics that Ford claims are "eco-friendly," and seats with soy-based foam taking the place of petroleum-based products round out the changes. With a bump in power and fuel efficiency (now that the 4-speed automatic is history), the fully-refreshed Mercury Mariner (hybrid and non-hybrid) seems ready to take on its competition for another couple years.

2009 Mercury Mariner
Base Price $19,750 (MT est.)
Vehicle layout Front engine, FWD or AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sport/utility
Engine 2.5L/171-hp/171 lb-ft. DOHC 16-valve I-4; 3.0-liter/240-hp/223 lb-ft. DOHC 24-valve V-6/2.5L/153-hp/136 lb-ft. DOHC 16-valve I-4 w/Atkinson cycle hybrid system, 94-hp AC synchronous motor
Transmission 5-speed manual (four-cylinder only), 6-speed automatic (four or V-6), CVT (hybrid only)
Curb weight (dist f/r) 3300 - 3850 lbs (mfg.)
Wheelbase 103.1
Length x width x height 174.7 x 71.1 x 70.0 in.
0-60 mph 8.7 sec. (mfg est, V-6)
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 18/23 - 34/30 mpg (mfg est.)