I really can’t think of a $33,000 sedan I’d rather be driving. Actually, the only thing I’d change is to delete the twelve-speaker Sony sound system so the price could even be a bit lower. Not everyone will be happy with the price premium of a hybrid, but the Mercury Milan and Ford Fusion hybrids are about as good as it gets. And that includes those $100,000 luxury hybrids.
I’m still impressed by the Milan hybrid’s ability to cruise down the road at speeds over 40 mph on battery power alone. The real trick to returning good fuel economy is using the gas engine to get up to speed and then letting the electric motor push you down the road at cruising speeds.
Some of the controls suffer from typical hybrid traits — the steering is very electric and overboosted, and the brake pedal feels very spongy — but the actual driving experience is just like you’d expect from a regular Milan. Suspension tuning is pretty good for Michigan’s crumbling roads and the extra weight of the battery pack is noticeable, but not offensive.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
Well, I can think of some $33,000 sedans I’d rather be driving, but Phil’s point is well taken. Unlike the other mid-size hybrids I’ve driven, the Fusion/Milan actually feels like something more than a cheap, four-cylinder mid-size car. Cruising home at some 45 mph in total silence, it becomes easy to believe that you really are driving something special and futuristic, rather than gimmicky and overpriced. The well-appointed interior and the LCD instrument panel further reinforce that message.
While eking out more efficiency, Ford has also done a good job minimizing, if not quite eliminating, typical hybrid annoyances like numb electric steering and unnatural brake pedal travel.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
This Milan Hybrid is probably the best product that Mercury currently builds. It’s truly a very good car that offers a lot for the money (even in this heavily optioned spec), a comfortable ride, sizable packaging, attractive styling, an impressively smooth powertrain, very good fuel economy, and a futuristic instrument panel. For many people, the Milan Hybrid would be the perfect car.
Personally, though, I prefer the edgier styling of the more-common Ford Fusion, with which the Milan is twinned. (Click here to read our recent comparison among the Fusion Hybrid, the Nissan Altima Hybrid, and the Toyota Camry Hybrid.) Moreover, I must admit that the relative lack of differentiation between Mercury and Ford products confuses me a bit; every Mercury vehicle on the market today (and there will be just three models for 2010) is a barely camouflaged version of a high-volume Ford. Indeed, Mercury is one of the most confusing brands on the market (along with GMC, of course … I’m still not sure why General Motors axed Pontiac and Saturn instead of GMC). This Milan did seem to ride a bit more softly than the Fusion Hybrid, though, so that’s at least once difference beyond styling and trim.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
We’re now very familiar with the Ford Fusion/Mercury Milan hybrids and, as we’ve repeatedly pointed out, we’re quite impressed by them. I wanted to note that our test car had Ford’s superb new navigation/stereo/climate control interface, which is one of the best on the market. It’s got very crisp type fonts, it’s very intuitive, and the satellite radio readout is especially well-done. I used to think that the Japanese automakers made the best nav/stereo screens, but now I’d say that Ford is in the running for top honors. And the rear-view camera image is, easily, ten times better than you find in any BMW.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
There’s approximately a $2000 difference between our Milan Hybrid and a comparable Ford Fusion Hybrid with the Rapid Spec 502A package. Although I typically argue against paying more for an identical car under a different name, I think I actually favor the Milan. Mercury’s done a fantastic job of restyling this car, and as Rusty pointed out, it’s smoother than its Ford sibling over broken highway surfaces – and in Michigan, that’s worth something.
I’m still trying to tell exactly how our Milan Hybrid is “optioned up.” From what I can tell, the Rapid Spec package is the only way one can purchase this car in Mercury form, leaving the $1700 navigation system as the only true “option.” If you want to purge luxuries, move to a Fusion Hybrid – its $27,995 base price nets you cloth seats and a fixed roof.
Regardless of the nameplate, this has to be one of my favorite sedans in the segment, let alone Ford’s portfolio. I’ll echo Phil — with this near-perfect mix of thrust and thrift, there are few other another $33,000 sedans I’d seriously consider owning.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
This is an excellent sedan, made even better by the excellent fuel economy it returns. While there are some concessions in the connectedness of the controls, they really aren’t all that different from most other mainstream sedans. Overboosted electric steering has no bias and has done an impressive job infiltrating virtually every automaker, regardless of if the vehicle is a hybrid, sport sedan, or family hauler. The brake pedal is easily controlled at speeds, but it’s in parking lots when modulation becomes difficult. In all, though, the Mercury Milan Hybrid is comfortable and practical without being boring. The $33,000 price tag is a bit high when compared to the luxury you could get in a Buick LaCrosse, but the hybrid technology here is quite impressive and well worth the money spent.
The interior, on the other hand, didn’t leave me that impressed. There’s nothing blatantly wrong with the materials or the finish, but the two-tone gray interior was drab and characterless. With so much mechanical similarity to the Fusion, the interior is really where I expect the Mercury to set itself apart. In contrast, I found the Ford Escape Hybrid’s beige interior, gloss black center stack, and dimpled brown accents to be very stylish and tasteful.
Ford has also received quite a bit of attention for its LCD SmartGauge cluster that surrounds the speedometer. The digital display can be switched among four different modes to show a variety of gauges relating battery charge state, electric assist, instant fuel economy, and more. After using it for the first time, I think it’s more smoke and mirrors than an innovative design. Some gauges convey trivial information and the whole package seems wrapped in gimmicky, gaudy graphics. If nothing else, it’s a distraction with little useful value. That doesn’t make it a reason to avoid either of the Ford hybrid sedans, but I’d hardly count it as a selling feature. There is one neat function I enjoy on the SmartGauge; when you turn the Milan Hybrid off, a summary screen shows you how many miles you traveled, how much gas you consumed, your fuel economy for that trip, and the average lifetime fuel economy of the car.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid
Base price (with destination): $28,225
Price as tested: $33,075
Automatic halogen headlights
Heated power mirrors with turn signal
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Sirius satellite radio
SYNC voice activated system
Auto dimming rear view mirror
Remote keyless entry
Side curtain airbags
SOS crash alert system
Options on this vehicle:
Rapid spec 300A – $3735
-Sony 12-speaker sound system
-Blind spot detection
-Rear view camera
Heated front seats – N/C
Navigation system – $1775
Leather seating – N/C
Rapid spec savings – -$660
Key options not on vehicle:
18-inch luster nickel wheels
41 / 36 / 39 mpg
Size: 2.5L four-cylinder hybrid
Horsepower: 191 hp engine/electric motor net
Torque: 136 lb-ft engine/electric motor net
Weight: 3729 lbs
17 in. aluminum wheels
225/50R-17 all season tires