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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2010 MERCURY MILAN HYBRID REVIEW


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2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid

SEE ALSO: Mercury Buyers Guide


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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE MILAN VEHICLE
The Mercury Milan is the fancier rebadged of the Ford Fusion, a sedan with a sleeker grille and side fascia. Therefore, you’re essentially getting the same hybrid powertrain, performance and 39-mpg fuel economy of the Fusion, which was named 2010 North American Car of the Year. Just different skins and maybe a $200 spread in pricing.

I drove a 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid with a new 156-horsepower Duratec 2.5-liter DOCH 4-cylinder engine with 136 lb-ft of torque at 2,250 rpm running on the 16-valve Atkinson cycle and paired to a 191-horsepower electric motor. The Milan Hybrid can operate up to 47-mph in pure electric mode. The Milan Premier trim includes an 8-way power driver seating, Ford’s SYNC system and SmartGauge with EcoGuide (a fuel conservation guidance system) for a base price of $27,500.

Declining sales and the economic downturn lead for to Ford recently make the decision to retire the more upscale Mercury brand with production officially ending in late 2010. Mercury only accounts for 1% of the U.S. auto market. Also, the re-launch of the more luxurious and tech-filled Lincoln lineup overshadowed Mercury’s purpose.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Outstanding optional packages are becoming a real selling point for Ford products with the Milan Hybrid getting its share. For $3,735, you can get a Moon & Tune Value Package adds a power moonroof and a 12-speaker Sony sound system; the Driver’s Vision Package that adds a Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) and a rear view camera; a sporty rear spoiler, upgraded leather and heated seating. The navigation system adds a much bigger screen at an additional $1,775. And don’t allow the electronics to overwhelm you: Ford spawned a huge online support community to get users started and troubleshoot any problems.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The hybrid twins share an identical safety and warranty features: a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty along with a separate 8-year/100,000-mile warranty for just hybrid components. A couple of Ford-created optional safety features include SYNC with 911 Assist, BLIS with a Rearview Camera and PowerCode with remote vehicle start. Additional standard safety features on the Milan Hybrid: AdvanceTrac ESC; Rear Park Assist; SOS Post-Crash Alert System; Airbags; Anti-Lock Brakes; High-strength steel structure exterior; Personal Safety System; LATCH child safety system; and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.

Cost Issues: The Milan Hybrid offers a reasonable base price of $27,500. When fully equipped with Ford interior technology, the price still says decent at $34,025. At 39-mpg, you won’t be slain at the pump either.

Activity & Performance Ability: The e-CVT transmission is a perfect match for hybrids and does a better job choosing perfect gear transitions than a traditional pressure clutch can. Electric and 4-cylinder surging noises aside, I found the cabin to be extremely quiet in all driving situations thanks to a long list of improvements made on the Milan model with hood insulators, inner and outer dash absorbers and new interior material. Although the wheel is a bit tighter – maybe too much as I found myself constantly pressing my palms into the wheel to stabilize my turns – I can attest the sedan corners with infinite precision at off ramps, winding roads and hard lefts. I would have enjoyed my long drives snaking through the coastal hills of northern California more if the steering wheel didn’t feel so disproportionate. Strangely enough, the Milan had a few extra aches and pains I strangely did not find in the Fusion Hybrid.

The Green Concern: Lots of green benefits here, and 39-mpg (I tested at 37-mpg) is the best one. The Milan’s SmartGauge is a digital instrument cluster wrapped by an attractive dash hood and displays easy-to-read LCD screen graphics. Driving efficiency, fuel economy and trip summary information are presented in bright colors and leafy designs. Also, these images are reconfigurable to customize your cluster.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The Mercury Milan Hybrid has a fancier exterior than its Ford Fusion Hybrid twin but eatures the same engine configurations to achieve 39-mpg and a sporty gas-electric powered drive. Convenient and easy to use interior technology combined with a base price under $30k makes both sedans clear winners.

©2010 Katrina Ramser