More powerful engines and more refinement distinguish the 2009 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner

The Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner compact SUVs get some under-the-skin freshening for 2009, with the intent of improving the performance and infotainment capability of the aging platform.

A new 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine replaces the 2.3.  Variable cam timing, electronic throttle control and the additional displacement help to raise the horsepower from 153 to 170, and there's a slight jump in fuel economy as well.  V6-powered models also get a horsepower bump, to 230. A  new six-speed automatic transmission replaces the antique four-speed.  The additional power and gears should make the Escape's pleasant-for-an-SUV road manners a bit more so.  The Escape Hybrid also gets the new 2.5, in Atkinson-cycle form. While enjoying the improved fuel economy at the pump, Escape and Mariner buyers will also notice Ford's EasyFuel capless gas tank.  

There are some nigh-imperceptible styling tweaks aimed at improving the Escape/Mariner's aerodynamics, and the suspension gets a new stabilizer bar and greater refinement.  Additional customer-pleasing items include the availability of Ford's Sync system, which links personal electronics to the vehicle's sound system, and Sirius' Travel Link real-time traffic, and entertainment information.

The revised Escape and Mariner go on sale in the summer of 2008.  

Gallery: 2009 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner get Upgraded Engine