We Get Greener Kit Cassingham & her Bigger Half

My Hybrid Mercury Mariner SUV

It's amazing how much change can occur in three years. Especially when it comes to technology. And cars.

When the Toyota Prius first came out I was excited. I could almost see the Jetson's zooming around town! However, I was resistant to making such a purchase because I was concerned about the battery disposal. Seemed to me that if there wasn't a way to refurbish or recycle those batteries we were going to create a waste nightmare that could affect us for a long, long time, therefore I figured I should avoid that kind of car.

Time changes minds. Or memory lapses change buying thoughts and habits. More hybrids were available, and more SUVs too. And mabye there is better battery life and disposal options today than "back then". Time lapsed and I needed to replace my Forester. How could I balance my environmental sensibilities with my living situation?

Around town I tend to drive alone. Road trips are a bit long. I drive a minimum of 8 miles of gravel/dirt per trip whenever I go somewhere. Road conditions range from dusty to muddy to snowy -- oh, and we do have the occasional dry, clear road too. To summarize, I needed a comfortable car with good mileage, clearance, and sturdy tires.

While there were a few hybrid car options for me to consider, given my requirements, there were really only a few choices. The Toyota Prius is a car we would love to own, but its reputation for not going forward uphill in icy/snowy conditions removed it from our list since we live up a hill and we do get snowy and icy conditions several months of the year.

My Bigger Half and I checked out the Toyota Highlander, one of the hybrid SUVs available at the time. What a great car, except for the fact Toyota wouldn't warranty it for off-road driving (the dealer said he thought that meant off paved roads), and the miles per gallon rating was dropping from the original models, not the direction we wanted to go.

After a bit of shopping I realized I was content to drive my Forester a bit longer, until it was really old. But when My Bigger Half bought a hybrid Ford Escape I became dissatisfied with my Forester. His Escape was a great car to drive, and fuel efficient with its hybrid engine. And it had a higher clearance than my Forester, a plus on our snowy roads. So, I sold my Forester and started shopping for my new car. I set my sights on a green, hybrid Mercury Mariner, but ultimately had to settle on blue since green seemed to be in short supply.

Kit's Hybrid Mercury Mariner
hybrid SUV

I splurged on a navigation system, a mistake I won't make again. In Ford's "infinite wisdom" they installed a system where the roads have to be verified by a human before the navigation portion works. I have a great map that works, but I wanted the navigation aspect too. Since our region is scarcely populated it's unlikely the roads will ever be verified. Heck, even the street to the Ford dealer hasn't been verified! But the big display that comes with the navigation system also shows other interesting tidbits that have been handy in using my car. For example, it's taught me how to drive more fuel efficiently, letting me have better average mileage than my Forester had. I'm an even more environmentally aware driver now because I've learned to lighten my foot for smoother, more gas efficient rides.

Ironically, my Forester had more interior space than the Mariner. I could haul more cargo and people, and sleep comfortably in the back with the seats down with my Forester. The Mariner is more comfortable for long trips, so it's all just a balance. I now have a moon roof, and the luggage rack holds my kayak perfectly. The wheels also will hold a sturdier tire which means I get better traction in the snow, ice and mud we get up here, and get fewer rocks working their way through the tread to give me a flat. And it's so quiet. I feel as if I'm driving in stealth mode!

After owning the Mariner for a few years I discovered a friend of mine with the site MGPOmatic.com had created a video and wrote a review on a hybrid Ford Escape, essentially the same car as the Mercury Mariner. Check it out for a different perspective on this environmentally friendly car. Or, just watch his Ford Escape Hybrid Review video.

Towards the end of the 3-minute video you can see the big screen that comes with the navigation system.

Now, I try to keep my cars for at least ten years, but that doesn't keep me from "window shopping". The question I keep pondering is what environmentally friendly options cars and SUVs will have by then. So much has changed in the past three and a half years I'm sure I can't begin to imagine what improvements will be available then. Even better mileage, low VOC interior materials, better battery use, solar options, recycled and recyclable parts, and things I haven't begun to imagine.

What do you want in an environmentally friendly car?

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