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.

Outside: Subtle changes
The front end of the Mariner gets more shiny metal, a bigger badge and fancier headlights. For the detail-oriented, inside each headlight there's a reflector decorated with the Mercury "waterfall" logo. (I think it's an art-deco wing from Mercury's helmet or sandal, but the people at Ford insist they don't know.)
2008 Mercury Mariner Hybrid
Outside: Subtle changes
Cost: About $31,000 as tested, prices start at about $26,000. Prices do not include federal tax credits.

Fuel economy: Not available yet, but probably about 27 mpg overall using new, more stringent EPA test proceduces

At first glance, the redesigned 2008 Mercury Mariner might look like not much has changed. The proportions and euro-style attitude are the same as ever. Actually, though, everything about the look, inside and out, is new.

Its sister-SUV, the Ford Escape, got a more extreme image makeover, taking on a new, rugged feel. So your Mercury is now less likely to be confused with the Ford. And the Mercury costs only $700 more, by the sticker price, so choose whichever look you like.

The hybrid version of the Mariner is distinguished only by a "branch-and-leaf" emblem next to the Mariner name on the front doors.

Subtle changes

Sound and silence

Easy ride

Inside line

Stability issues

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