The Mountaineer is positioned as a posher version of the Ford Explorer. Optional third-row seating brings passenger accommodations to seven. Conveniences include optional adjustable pedals that allow shorter drivers to optimize their driving position and an audible reverse warning system. The standard engine is an adequate-performing but coarse-sounding 4.0-liter V6; a 4.6-liter V8 is also available.
Alerts
There is 1 recall on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
NA
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
NA
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
NA
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
NA
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit,
NA
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
NA
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
NA
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
NA
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
NA
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
NA
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.
NA

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
NA
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
NA
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
NA
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
NA
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
NA
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
NA
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
2001
NA
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
NA
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS standard. Side air bags available 1999-2001, standard from 2006. Head protection air bags available from 2002, standard from 2007. ESC available in 2004, standard from 2005.
Model Summary
The Mountaineer is positioned as a posher version of the Ford Explorer. Optional third-row seating brings passenger accommodations to seven. Conveniences include optional adjustable pedals that allow shorter drivers to optimize their driving position and an audible reverse warning system. The standard engine is an adequate-performing but coarse-sounding 4.0-liter V6; a 4.6-liter V8 is also available. The ride is firm and controlled. Handling is sound if unexceptional. The interior is versatile, with various folding seat arrangements. Unlike the Ford Explorer, the Mountaineer uses a permanent all-wheel-drive system without a low range.
Seating
2 front, 3 rear, 2 third
Drive Wheels
AWD , Rear
Warranty

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
4-door SUV
Transmissions Available
  • 5-speed Automatic
Engines Available
  • 4-liter V6 (210 hp)
  • 4.6-liter V8 (239 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2003 Mercury Mountaineer owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Condenser

"Leaks "freon" and needs the cause of the leak determined and fixed"

Allen N., MD (2003 Mercury Mountaineer None 4.5-L V8)

"Condenser was leaking. would not hold coolant"

Mike L., CA (2003 Mercury Mountaineer None 4.5-L V8)
Refrigerant leaks

"Had to add freon"

Elaine P., MD (2003 Mercury Mountaineer None 4.5-L V8)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

"Heck, with 123,000 miles front brake work would be perfectly normal. The rear brakes are still original and have 25% left on the pads"

Stephen W., AZ (2003 Mercury Mountaineer None 4.5-L V8)
Regular brake failure

"Brakes stopped working"

Anonymous, IL (2003 Mercury Mountaineer None 4.0-L V6)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Springs or torsion bars

"Back right spring broken. Told by mechanic it was a common problem. Had to replace both back springs"

Anonymous, NY (2003 Mercury Mountaineer None 4.5-L V8)
Steering wheel vibration

"it has had a continuous problem with steering and vibrations"

Anonymous, MA (2003 Mercury Mountaineer None 4.5-L V8)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Headlights

"Problem with alignment"

Larry H., CO (2003 Mercury Mountaineer None 4.5-L V8)
Alarm or security system (excluding aftermarket systems)

"The computer that controls the system"

Anonymous, FL (2003 Mercury Mountaineer None 4.5-L V8)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Rust

"The passenger rear well got o hole in it and had to be repaired . It should be noted that their was never any accident damage"

Gerard H., MD (2003 Mercury Mountaineer None 4.5-L V8)

"Rock chip in the paint on right rear wheel well and it is rusting and spreading"

Anonymous, IA (2003 Mercury Mountaineer None 4.0-L V6)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

Backup or other camera/sensors

"Backup sensor Failure"

Gerald B., SC (2003 Mercury Mountaineer None 4.5-L V8)
CD player

"CD player jammed"

Gerald B., SC (2003 Mercury Mountaineer None 4.5-L V8)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Tailgate, hatch or trunk

"The tailgate had to be replaced TWO times because the tailgate CRACKED"

Gerard H., MD (2003 Mercury Mountaineer None 4.5-L V8)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor)

"We had an idle issue develop over time, along with a noise that was concerning and annoying at start up. 3 unique sensors, a new air cleaner and $500 later we were back in business"

Allen H., IL (2003 Mercury Mountaineer None 4.5-L V8)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

What Owners Say

Slipping transmission

"Hard shifting and slipping, have not been repaired"

Anonymous, IL (2003 Mercury Mountaineer None 4.5-L V8)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

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