Mercury Mountaineer presents a bold, expressive design. It's also among the best mid-size SUVs you can buy. Its innovative chassis and independent rear suspension offer a smooth ride. Its thoughtfully designed interior helps make long trips relaxing. There's respectable power from the standard V6, and more than enough with the optional V8. Mountaineer shares its structure and most major components with the Ford Explorer. It's the Mountaineer's adventurous, architectural look that sets it apart. While the Explorer almost seems designed to blend into the suburban wallpaper, the Mountaineer demands more attention. It points the way to Mercury's future with its waterfall grille, while paying homage to Mercury's heritage of styling innovation. Mountaineer was completely re-engineered for 2002, with a new frame, a new independent rear suspension, a new front suspension, new steering, new seating formats, and a raft of new standard and optional features. For 2004, Mountaineer adds even more choices, including second-row bucket seats and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Power adjustable pedals and an in-dash six-disc CD changer are available at all trim levels. Electronic stability control, which Ford calls AdvanceTrac, is now offered on two-wheel-drive models and we recommend this feature.