in 2010 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $12,173 - $14,463
Original MSRP: $23,560 - $27,380
MPG: 21 City / 28 Hwy
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2010 Mercury Mariner Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The Mercury Mariner's 2009 performance boost gave it more power and better fuel economy. However, Mercury didn't address the brakes, leading to considerable criticism from reviewers.

  • "Mariner's ride is absorbent, with little impact harshness. Some float is noticeable at highway speeds, but it's not bothersome." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The 2010 Mercury Mariner feels reasonably secure during quick changes of direction, and its ride quality is pleasantly supple. Performance from either engine is satisfactory, and the six-speed automatic transmission provides smooth shifts." -- Edmunds
  • "It also proved a poised, serene, stable interstate cruiser, with a plush ride and comfortable seats upholstered in grippy, classy-looking fabric. When we asked our voters which SUV they'd pick if they had to drive to L.A. tomorrow, two pointed fingers at the Mariner. ‘Of course, when I got there,’ added one, ‘I'd rent something that actually offered some fun.’ -- Car and Driver

Acceleration and Power

The Mariner comes standard with a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine that makes 171 horsepower. A 3.0-liter V6 that makes 240 horsepower is optional. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Reviewers say that power from both engines is excellent, though they prefer the V6 because the base engine can be overly noisy.

The Mariner earns decent fuel economy ratings for its class. According to the EPA, four-cylinder models are rated at 21/28 mpg city/highway with front-wheel drive and with 20/26 with four-wheel drive. V6 models are rated at 19/25 with FWD and 18/23 with 4WD. Though this is good, you can still get better fuel economy and even spend less. The Hyundai Tucson starts at $4,600 less than the Mariner and has an excellent 22/30 fuel economy rating.

  • "The other knock against the Mercury was that, at wide-open throttle, it made the most racket, and the quality of the racket was judged the most abrasive.” -- Car and Driver
  • "An AWD 4-cylinder is the only Mariner made available for testing. This engine and 6-speed automatic transmission provide better than expected acceleration, even with AWD. The transmission shifts smoothly and kicks down quickly for more power." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The 240-horsepower V6 is bested by segment luminaries like Toyota's 268-hp RAV4 and Chevrolet's 264-hp Equinox, but it's powerful enough to move the Mariner around with decent verve. The base 171-hp four-cylinder unit is also just fine for this class." -- Edmunds
  • "The 240-hp, 3.0-liter V6 is a sprightly unit, offering ample power and a 3,500-pound maximum towing capacity." -- Car Gurus

Handling and Braking

The Mariner's ride and handling continue to be a sore spot among test drivers. One major complaint is that the Mariner comes with disc/drum brakes, which reviewers find antiquated compared to competitors’ four-wheel disc brakes. Reviewers also report that the Mariner has the longest braking distances in its class. Intelligent four-wheel drive is optional for all Mariner models.

Both the less-expensive Hyundai Tucson and Chevrolet Equinox have disc brakes and shorter braking distances than the Mariner.

  • "This SUV finished last mostly because of its flaccid suspension. It scored the slowest lane-change speed and the second-worst skidpad grip -- in fairness, both maneuvers were handicapped by overaggressive stability control -- then went on to log the worst braking distance by quite a margin." -- Car and Driver
  • "Fine for a compact SUV and a surprise given the age of Mariner's basic platform. Body lean in turns is well controlled, though the steering feels overboosted and vague. Even with AWD, Mariner has a tidy turning radius, which helps in low-speed maneuvering." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Its rear brakes were downgraded to inferior drums in 2008, and every Mariner since has borne this badge of shame." -- Edmunds
  • "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." -- Car Gurus

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