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MSRP Range: $26,800 - $32,115
Fuel Economy: 14 MPG city / 20 MPG highway

Traditional SUV hauls seven, pulls trailers.

The Mercury Mountaineer is a traditional sport-utility vehicle. Essentially the Mercury version of the Ford Explorer, the Mountaineer is based on a truck chassis for improved towing and hauling capability. If you have a boat to tow and a family to haul, this is a good choice.

We found the Mountaineer cabin pleasingly quiet on the road. The dash is trim and elegant and clearly communicates essential information. Multi-adjustable front seats make for comfortable commutes. Passengers consigned to the third-row seats enjoy more legroom than their counterparts in other, seven-passenger SUVs in the class. The second- and third-row seats fold down to reveal a useful rear cargo area. The front door handles and door pulls, on the other hand, are strangely placed and are at first awkward to use.

The V6 offers decent power and towing capacity. The V8 is better on both counts. Though they never feel quick, V8-powered Mountaineers are about as fast as anything in the class.

The Mountaineer offers a smooth ride, though it feels more like a truck than the latest crossover, or car-based, SUVs feel, with noticeable up and down motions on bumpy pavement. Mountaineer handles fairly well for a truck-based SUV, but is not as agile as many of the new generation of crossover SUVs. With either engine, fuel economy is also generally less than in most crossovers. It can tow a heavier load than a crossover can, however, and it offers better off-road capability.

At the start of the model year, Mountaineer carries over unchanged for 2007 save for different options groupings. Later in the model year, all Mountaineers will gain Mercury's capless fueling system, and two new options will be offered: 20-inch wheels and tires and the Mercury Sync communication and entertainment system.

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