2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid Review
DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS
2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid
When you think "hybrid", Ford Motor Company is probably not the first manufacturer that you think of. Which is unfortunate, because Ford's gasoline-electric hybrid technology is every bit as advanced as Toyota's. Ford has expanded its hybrid offerings for model year 2010, adding the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan Hybrids to the existing Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner Hybrids.
And, if you're a technology-savvy person under the age of AARP eligibility, it's likely that you're not thinking "Mercury" as an entry-luxury car. Maybe you should - Mercury has moved beyond your grandfather's Grand Marquis. The Milan, and in particular the Milan Hybrid, is made with you in mind.
The Hybrid sits atop the Milan lineup, which is also offered in four-cylinder base and Premier and V6 Premier and Premier AWD models. The four-cylinder engine is new, larger in displacement at 2.5 liters, and more powerful, with 175 hp. In modified form it is the internal combustion part of the Hybrid's drivetrain. The 3.0-liter V6 has been further developed to now make 240 horsepower, up from 221. Transmissions are six-speed, with a manual standard in the base four-cylinder and automatics in the others. All versions feature revised exterior and interior styling.
My Milan Hybrid test car was outfitted with the comprehensive "Rapid Spec 300A" option package. Which meant nearly all options... the most noteworthy of which was the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS™), which with a backup camera makes up the Driver's Vision Package. Unlike earlier blind-spot systems, including the one on Volvos (still members of the Ford extended family), this one uses radar, not video cameras, to detect cars in positions not easily seen in the side-view mirrors -- and, it also can detect a car approaching when you're backing out from between two large objects (like large SUVs) and the approaching car is out of your direct vision, mirror vision, and the field of view of the backup camera. A chime and warning light alert the driver at that time. In normal driving, lights in the outside rearview mirrors warn of hidden vehicles. The system works, well, and is offered in many 2010 Ford family vehicles.
The Ford/Microsoft SYNCŪ voice-activated communications and entertainment system is standard in the Milan Hybrid. It integrates Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones and digital music players. It can now can use the phone to call 911 directly in the event of an airbag deployment, and also send diagnostic information from various vehicle systems directly to Ford via an 800 number. A voice-activated navigation system is available, as is Sirius satellite radio and Sirius TravelLink™ real-time traffic and weather information.
But the Milan Hybrid is more than a collection of features. It's a car that can hold its own against any other small or mid-size hybrid in the quality of the driving experience. The suspension is calibrated for people who have grown up in imports. It's not your grandfather's Grand Marquis. And special kudos to the hybrid system. Not only is the Milan Hybrid commendably frugal with fuel -- I averaged 36.1 mpg according to the trip computer, with 34.5 the long-term average in press testing -- it can get up and move when required. Adequate acceleration is not a concern, and braking is just as good, thanks to the four-wheel antilock discs and regenerative braking. With cars like the Milan Hybrid, Mercury is looking good.
APPEARANCE: Like all 2010 Mercury Milans, the Hybrid is a three-box sedan with clean lines. All models get a new grille, front fenders, hood, and front and rear fascias. The result is distinctive, with no attempt to copy anyone else. The lower front was pulled down and forward, and gives space for a larger grille featuring broad matte-silver vertical bars and the company logo, and finished by a bar at the front edge of the hood. The semi-rectangular headlights are a touch smaller than previously, but large size is not needed with projector beams. The knife-edged fenders define a strong shoulder line, the wheels fill the wheelarches well, and the high tail has a subtly-revised look, large taillights, and dual exhausts. The Hybrid can be distinguished from other Milans by the "road and leaf" badge and small "hybrid" lettering on the tail and front doors.
COMFORT: Inside, the Milan is a pleasant, comfortable car at the small end of the mid-size category. Styling is tastefully conservative and functional, with pleasant touches like a small storage box in the top of the dash and a coin/toll-holder drawer to the left of the steering wheel. Multiple materials and textures, with good use of soft-touch plastics, help give it an upscale ambiance. Leather seating, with power adjustment and heat in front, is standard in Premier and Hybrid models. Even the front passenger seat has a height-adjustable cushion. Seat comfort is good. All models get a leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise and auxiliary audio controls, manually adjustable for both tilt and reach. There are bottle holders in the front door pockets, simple cupholders on the console, and the bottom of the two-layer console box has a mini-jack and USB port for music players plus a power point for a charger. The rear seat has good room for two, with space for a small person in the center. The major interior difference between the Milan Hybrid and its siblings is the instrument panel. It's a semi-"glass cockpit" design with programmable information displays on either side of a central analog speedometer. The speedo is backlit for easy visibility, and the screen display is also very easy to see and understand. There are four levels, called Inform, Enlighten, Engage, and Empower, with an increasing amount of information displayed. It's simple to use and not merely a gimmick. Keep in in the "Eco" zone and improve your gas mileage.
SAFETY: The 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid has the Personal Safety System™, which includes front seat sensors that can detect occupancy and weight in the passenger seat and position of the driver's seat in order to determine airbag inflation if that is necessary, dual-stage front airbags, front side and full-length side curtain airbags, illuminated entry, anti-theft and tire pressure monitoring systems, the AdvanceTrac stability and traction control system, and SOS Post-Crash Alert to call 911 on a cell phone paired with the SYNC system.
RIDE AND HANDLING: How many times can I say it? This is not Grandpa's Grand Marquis. The Milan's fully-independent short-and-long arm front, multilink rear suspension is tuned in a Euro-moderate fashion. It's compliant, with good damping and moderately soft springs, more to the luxury end of a suspension setup (appropriately) than sport. But the Milan Hybrid is still a pleasant car to drive, even in a spirited manner.
PERFORMANCE: Yes, people buy hybrids for fuel economy, and here the Milan will not disappoint, with an honest 35-plus mpg in normal operation. But there are times when power is needed, now!, and there some hybrids fall flat. Not the Milan. Yes, the engine gets a little noisy under full-throttle acceleration, but the car gets up and moves, with a 0-60 time in the 8.5 second range. No fear of becoming a bug on the radiator of a Peterbilt at the end of a short highway onramp. The reason for this is Ford's full-hybrid system. It's as advanced as Toyota's, and smoother. Gasoline power is provided by an Atkinson cycle-modified version of the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine found in the base Milan, with maximum output of 156 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 136 lb-ft of torque at a low 2250 rpm. Electric traction is courtesy a permanent magnet synchronous AC motor with 136 hp at 6500 rpm and an unspecified but likely considerable amount of torque as soon as it starts to rotate. Power is managed via a computer-controlled CVT, with a maximum combined output of 191 hp, and the engine switches off and back on seamlessly. Other hybrids can run in electric mode up to maybe 25 or 30 mph; the Milan (and sister Fusion) can do so up to 47mph. I regularly saw EV mode at 30 to 35, even up slight grades. The Milan Hybrid has a regular key, not a remote transponder, so it's sure to really be off when you leave, as the engine will shut off at stops.
CONCLUSIONS: The Mercury Milan Hybrid combines good looks, a pleasant chassis, and a first-class hybrid drive system.
2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid
Base Price $ 27,500 Price As Tested $ 33,735 Engine Type aluminum alloy dual overhead cam 16-valve inline 4-cylinder Engine Size 2.5 liters / 152 cu. in. Horsepower 156 @ 6000 rpm Torque (lb-ft) 136 @ 2250 rpm Electric Motor Type permanent magnet AC synchronous Electric Motor Horsepower 106 @ 6500 rpm Electric Motor Torque n/a Combined Maximum System Horsepower 191 net Transmission electronically-controlled CVT Wheelbase / Length 107.4 in. / 189.0 in. Curb Weight 3729 lbs. Pounds Per Horsepower 19.5 Fuel Capacity 17 gal. Fuel Requirement 87 octane unleaded regular gasoline Tires P225/50R17 93V Michelin Energy mxv4 Brakes, front/rear vented disc / solid disc, regenerative braking and AdvanceTrac electronic stability control standard Suspension, front/rear independent short- and long-arm / independent multilink Drivetrain transverse front engine and motor, front-wheel drive PERFORMANCE EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 41/ 36 / 36 0 to 60 mph 8.5 sec OPTIONS AND CHARGES Rapid Spec 300A - includes: Moon & Tune Package - includes: power moonroof, Sony 12-speaker sound system, Driver's Vision Package - includes: Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, rear-view camera rear spoiler $ 3,735 Navigation system $ 1,775 Destination and delivery $ 725