New Mariner Hybrid: Nice and green

Also sold - in different guises - as the Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute, Ford's small hybrid SUVs offer an excellent value.

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Controls for the stereo system and climate are nicely laid out and easy to use. At night, the Mariner's dash and knobs glow in light blue hue.
2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid
Inside line
The Mariner's luxury-looking exterior makes some of the cheap interior plastics seem even more unfortunate. Ford Motor Co. really needs to find a more convincing, or at least nicer-looking, silver-colored plastic than the toy-store stuff they use here.

Functionally, the Mariner has a lot going for it. The center console is capacious, especially if you remove the plastic inner bin. Actually, there are two. A small one and a really big one.

Each bin has an extension that allows it to be clipped to two spots on the outside of the center console, creating a handy hanging basket for storing things occupants might need to reach easily.

Subtle changes

Sound and silence

Easy ride

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Stability issues

Dollar for dollar
Ford updates two of its classic trucks for 2008. Ford's Escape and the SuperDuty F-450 (more)