Ford  /  Ford Motor Co.
The Mercury Mariner Hybrid looks much like its gasoline-only sibling, but gets 30 percent better mileage.
updated 2/9/2005 9:16:18 AM ET 2005-02-09T14:16:18

Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday formally introduced its second gas-electric SUV, the 2006 Mercury Mariner Hybrid.

Unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show, the Mariner Hybrid is similar to the Ford Escape Hybrid that preceded it last year, getting about 33 miles per gallon in the city and 29 miles per gallon on the highway -- or 30 percent more than the regular Mariner SUV.

The hybrid retains the same interior space as its gasoline sibling, Ford said, and the exterior differences are mainly an air vent in the driver's side rear window to cool off the hybrid battery pack as well as "HYBRID" badges on the liftgate, front doors and engine cover.

In its press release, Ford said the Mariner Hybrid "is expected to meet the cleanest emissions rating achievable by a fossil-fuel vehicle."

Ford added that "the stop and go of the urban commute is where Mariner Hybrid shines" because of its ability to run on electric-mode only at speeds up to 25 mph. And like other hybrids, it shuts down the gas engine when the vehicle is stopped in traffic or at a red light.

Ford plans to have the Mariner Hybrid in showrooms this October.

It also plans to introduce hybrid versions of its Milan and Fusion sedans in the next three years.

The automaker will also produce a test fleet of Mazda Tribute SUV hybrids this year with full-scale production expected to begin in the next two years.

Initially planned as a 2007 model-year vehicle, the Mariner Hybrid was pulled ahead a year because of the growing consumer interest in hybrid technology, Ford said.

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