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I purchase a car every 10 years and this is the year. I am considering a Mercury Mariner hybrid -- it is time that I put my money where my environmental philosophy is. So I have 3 questions as this time: 1. I drive about 12,000 miles a year, including longer road trips of about 1000 miles. About 2/3 on the road and the other 4000 around town. I am concerned that the 4 cylinder engine will be overworked and I will not get a good life out of the car. I know there has not been enough time to establish a reliable track record on the hybrids, but what is your perspective? Is this the car for me? I travel alone and go to mountains and desert and need reliability. And I LOVE my Ford service department so really would want to stay with something they can work on. 2. I know how an electric and gas engine operate independently, but how exactly does the electric motor assist the gas motor on the road when the gas motor is in operation? 3.In the Mariner, the gas engine comes on at 25 MPH. I find it hard to stay at or under that speed around town. How much of a burden on the gas engine is it to be going on/off/on/off around town? Does that create excess wear and tear on the gas engine? Thank you very much for your consideration. Mari Tustin

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Patty Streeter,  at Ford says the performance of the hybrid is closer to the 200-hp V6 than to the base 153-hp four-cylinder gasoline engine. With a four-cylinder gasoline engine and a pair of electric motors working on its behalf, the 2007 Mercury Mariner Hybrid feels nearly as quick as the V6 Mariner and returns outstanding fuel mileage. The Mariner Hybrid power plant consists of a 2.3-liter gasoline engine and two electric motor/generators. Mercury calls the transmission a continuously variable transmission (CVT), but there's no rotating belt as in a conventional CVT. Instead, the motors work in concert with the gas engine through a planetary gearset to provide seamless power and maximum efficiency. Here is the Ford warranty information for the Mercury Mariner Hybrid system: Ford Motor Company provides for the 2007 Mercury Mariner Hybrid a basic Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty, as well as extended coverage for the Powertrain and Safety System and protection against corrosion perforation. In addition, the Mariner's unique hybrid components (high-voltage battery, electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT) and the DC/DC converter are covered for eight years or 100,000 miles (whichever occurs first). There is also specific warranty coverage for the Emissions System. Suggested Improvements: When you stop at a red light the air conditioning doesn't work because the engine isn't running. Do some comparisons with these vehicles and be sure to do some test drives, the Mercury Mariner Hybrid suspension is a bit rough and bumpy. Toyota Highlander Hybrid Toyota Camry Hybrid Ford Escape Hybrid Saturn Vue Green Line (hybrid) Ford Escape Hybrid

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