With the great success of the Ford Escape Hybrid, it is understandable that Mercury would want to rush its version to the market a whole year ahead of schedule. Available this fall as a 2006 model, the Mariner Hybrid uses the same combination of a 2.3-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor found in the Escape. It is capable of a claimed 33 mpg in city driving, just like the Escape. Unlike the Ford, which can be had as a front-driver, all Mariner Hybrids will be all-wheel drive and of one trim level. The Mariner Hybrid also benefits from slightly more upscale appointments and styling.
Discernable differences between the hybrid and other models are few--unique badging, a small battery-cooling vent in the rear driver's side window, and sixteen-inch, five-spoke wheels--but it's what is on the inside that counts, right? At least you'll know you're saving the environment as you drive down the highway, even if nobody else notices.