Mercury Milan Hybird - Mercury's Efficient Midsize

Three of my favorite mid-size cars are the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, and Lincoln MKZ that are all based on the excellent Mazda6 architecture. The same platform spawned the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers. What they lack in brute power and cavernous interiors, they make up for with refined handling, rock solid body structures, and enduring quality. You sense their Japanese heritage, no doubt. However, they also possess a certain style that can only come from America. New for 2010 are enhanced styling and a class-leading hybrid powertrain that will be shared with the Fusion.

Said Derrick Kuzak, Ford V.P. for Global Product Development, “With the new Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids, we are now able to offer even better range of travel on battery power at a greater speed, thanks to a more efficient, seamless transition between the battery-powered motor and gasoline-driven engine. These new hybrids will exceed expectations on all fronts – fuel efficiency, comfort, convenience, and drivability.”

The Milan Hybrid is powered by a version of the Ford Escape Hybrid’s 2.5-litre four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine, continuously variable transmission, and nickel-metal hydride batteries. Regenerative brakes and a more powerful motor allow the Milan Hybrid to drive up to 47 MPH on electricity alone, limiting gas consumption during city driving. A cool LCD screen next to the speedometer “grows leaves” or takes them away to creatively show drivers how they are using energy. Driven with soft loafers, range can touch 700 miles while beating the similar-sized Toyota Camry Hybrid by 8 MPG in the city and 2 MPG on the highway. Ford just announced that the Milan has been certified for 41-MPG in city driving. EasyFuel™ capless technology makes it even easier to fill up when you finally do have to visit a gas station.

Mercury also installed some advanced technology inside the car. Sync™, developed with Microsoft, allows passengers to voice-activate the navigation and audio systems. Bluetooth connectivity lets them make hands free calls from via their cell phone. Blind spot sensors alert drivers when cars or pedestrians are present while a backing camera reveals objects behind the vehicle. All of these features add up to a mid-size entry-luxury car that gives owners a technological edge underneath and behind a beautiful skin.

The Milan was already a good-looking car with its satin silver waterfall grille, European profile, trapezoidal taillamps, and handsome alloy wheels. For 2010, front clips were freshened with a larger and bolder chrome grille, chrome chin spoiler, and small round foglamps. The car also gets new wheels, spoiler, and taillamps, but most of the body shell remains unchanged – for the good. The total look comes off as “working girl elegant”.

Interiors were updated with new-age Ford buttons and dials, available touch-screen controls for the navigation/climate/audio systems, thicker steering wheel, and digital dashboard with large center analog speedometer. Details like the seats and gear selector were enhanced with French stitching to emulate the Milan’s upscale cousins at Lincoln. Hybrid models have a cool energy monitor function in the touch screen that shows what is being burned and replenished in real time.

I’ve driven Mercury Milans many times over the past several years and in all trim levels. They are always quiet and comfortable on the highway. The base 175-horsepower 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine is powerful enough for most people, but speed demons will want to step up to the 240-horsepower 3.0-litre V6. Hybrids are expected to bridge the gap in power while turning in Smart ForTwo fuel economy.

What I like best about the Milan Hybrid is how stealthily it moves about. From all appearances, it is a stylish mid-luxury sedan with a Japanese soul. However, from its class-leading hybrid-driven fuel economy to hands-free communications and navigation, as well as an LCD dashboard, it is as advanced as any car close to its price. Some people want a Prius to prove their greenness, but many others prefer the benefits wrapped in traditional attire. For those, the Milan Hybrid promises to be an excellent choice.

By Casey Williams