Read Rusty Blackwell's comments on driving the 2008 Mercury Mariner Premier 4WD V-6.
This vehicle makes it clear that Mercurys are pretty much Fords with nicer interior and more stylish taillights. But seriously, I do like what they've done with the cool light-colored fabric inlays in the seats. On this ten-degree morning, though, my problem with the seats (and probably no different from the Ford Escape's buckets) is that the seat heaters have one stage, and it's superhot ... just as hot as many other cars' hottest settings.
I was unimpressed by the heavy-feeling Mariner's lack of quickness off the line, but the 3.0-liter V-6 seems to get a second wind between 4000 and 5000 rpm. (Peak torque is at a lofty 4850 rpm.) The four-speed automatic is unsure at times, but at least you can select a specific gear, unlike some Ford products that give you a choice between "D" and "L" only. Body roll is prevalent, but the ride and handling is actually pretty decent for this right-size (for most people) SUV.