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2007 Mercury Mountaineer Premier AWD V8

Climb every Mountaineer

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2007 Mercury Mountaineer Premier AWD V8

Mountaineer looks just like Explorer -- I mean that as a compliment, really I do.

Photo © Jason Fogelson
There was a time when a Mercury was a Mercury. That time was long ago, unfortunately, and today a Mercury is a Ford in different clothing. So forgive me if I don't get too excited about the 2007 Mercury Mountaineer Premier AWD V8 -- it's just another Ford Explorer to me. The 2007 Mercury Mountaineer Premier AWD V8 comes with a base price of $33,840 ($39,165 as tested), including a 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty, a 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty and an EPA estimate of 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway -- and a whole lot of parts from the Ford bin.

First Glance

Have you ever been compared to a member of your family -- "Oh, you look just like your Uncle Marty!" -- and then realized that what was meant as a compliment felt like a slap? "You mean Uncle Marty with the big nose and the hanging gut?" Well, Mountaineer looks just like Explorer -- I mean that as a compliment, really I do.

It's easier to pick out the differences than to cite the similarities between the two vehicles. Up front, Mountaineer gets a flashy chrome waterfall grille emblazoned with a big round Mercury logo at center, a more refined look than the truck-like Explorer. Big headlights and a chromed bumper strip above body-colored panels complete the elegant look. Simple badging around the rest of the vehicle, along with a few pieces of shiny trim here and there, represent the only other big differences you'll find between Mountaineer and Explorer.

My test vehicle was equipped with optional ($695) power running boards that automatically folded down when the doors were opened. On a big SUV like the Lincoln Navigator, I love this feature. On a mid-size like Mountaineer, the running boards were a nuisance. At 6'2", I don't need help up into the driver's seat, and the running boards consistently hit the backs of my legs as I exited the vehicle. Drivers who are short of stature may appreciate this feature more than I did.

Continued below...

In the Driver's Seat

It's deja vu all over again.

Photo © Ford Motor Company
It's deja vu all over again (thanks, Yogi Berra). If I covered up the big Mercury logo at the center of the steering wheel, you would be hard-pressed to tell whether you were in an Explorer or a Mountaineer. I'm sure there must be some differences -- they couldn't actually be that blatant about the rebadging, could they?

I guess this fits into the "if it's not broken, don't fix it" category of design and engineering. Mountaineer's seating is comfortable, firm and supportive, an especially good fit with broader expanses of human behind. Power adjustable foot pedals are a nice option ($225). I wish that the steering wheel adjusted for reach as well as tilt, but I didn't have a hard time finding a good driving position. My test vehicle was equipped with a $2,845 navigation/moonroof package that places a big LCD screen at the top center of the dash. Mercury's navigation software is one of my favorites, with clear instructions and a very intuitive interface. Despite the price, I'd tick that option box on my Mountaineer, and avoid the hassle of the aftermarket.

Second row seating is comfortable, with a simple two-tone split bench seat and two-tone door panels. Access to the third row is good, but space back there is tight -- better for kids and small adults than for full-sized humans. My test vehicle also came with an optional ($1,295) DVD rear seat entertainment unit, which I would skip -- for a lot less money you can get a portable unit for each rear seat passenger, and more harmony will reign. Or you could even -- gasp -- speak with your passengers on a long trip.

On the Road

Mountaineer's 4.6 liter V8 engine produces 292 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, a very respectable amount of power for the 4714 lb vehicle. A six-speed automatic transmission with overdrive sends the power to all four wheels on the all-wheel drive model. Though fuel economy isn't fantastic, at least Mountaineer is happy on regular octane (87) pump gas, and doesn't demand the pricey premium stuff.

It's hard to complain about Mountaineer's suspension. Each wheel is independent, with coil-over shocks and control short and long-arm architecture. There's a big 32-mm stabilizer bar up front, and a 25-mm unit out back. Combined with rack-and-pinion steering and four-wheel power disc anti-lock brakes, the suspension delivers a very comfortable, stable ride over most surfaces. A very tight 36.8' turning radius helps make Mountaineer one of the easiest mid-size SUVs to drive in a parking lot.

It's impossible to consider Mountaineer and Explorer without hearkening back to the rollover disasters of the 1990s. Mercury has equipped Mountaineer with a ton of safety feature to allay public fear, including standard traction control, a safety canopy system, dual stage front air bags and a tire pressure monitoring system. Mountaineer is still a big vehicle with a high center of gravity, but I'd feel confident driving one on a daily basis, maintaining an awareness of its handling and cornering limitations.

Journey's End

For many buyers, the decision will come down to Mountaineer or Explorer.

Photo © Jason Fogelson
For many buyers, the decision won't boil down to Mountaineer or some other SUV -- it will be Mountaineer or Explorer. The differences between the vehicles are slight, with equivalent Mercury SUVs pricing out a thousand or two higher than their Ford counterparts. You can save a few bucks by choosing a lesser trim level for your Mountaineer, or by forgoing all-wheel drive for rear-wheel drive and choosing a V6 over the potent V8. A V6 4x2 Mountaineer starts at $27,302.

There are certainly other mid-size SUVs to consider. I love Toyota's 4Runner -- my daily driver, Moose, is a 1994 model. Nissan's Pathfinder has grown in my esteem over the years. Jeep's Grand Cherokee and Chevy's Trailblazer are both vehicles with lots of heritage and ability. If fuel economy is a concern, consider the next size down. A Mercury Mariner, Ford Escape or Toyota Highlander can do almost everything that a Mountaineer can, and you can choose a hybrid gas-electric powerplant to maximize your gas savings.

Forgive me if I don't get the tingles at the mention of a Mercury Mountaineer. I know that it's important for Lincoln Mercury dealers to have an SUV on their showroom floors. I just wish that there was more distinction in the vehicle, and more magic left in the Mercury name.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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