The 2011 Mercury Milan will be one of the final two vehicles sold by the Ford brand. In 2010, Ford announced it would close down the Mercury nameplate, leaving it with the Ford and Lincoln badges to apply to its new vehicles.
While they're available, the standard and hybrid versions of the Milan should be excellent deals for shoppers looking for a four-door sedan with a pinch of style, good interior space and a high-quality cabin, with the appeal of hybrid gas mileage to boot.
The Milan is essentially identical to the Ford Fusion and Fusion Hybrid models, with a thin layer of distinctive styling applied. Both Milan sedans were revamped in 2010, along with their corporate cousins. There's a waterfall grille on the nose, a dash with wide pieces of metallic trim that distinguish it from the Fusion, and a handsome selection of interior upholstery choices, including a two-tone chocolate effect that's unavailable on any Ford version (or on the also related Lincoln MKZ, for that matter).
Buyers can choose from a range of Milan sedans. Those choices include four- or six-cylinder engines, manual or automatic transmissions, front- or all-wheel drive, and aedition. Not all combinations are available, though: the V-6 is the only engine offered with all-wheel drive, and the manual transmission only is offered with the four-cylinder.
In basic four-cylinder form, the Milan is a competent performer. With 175 horsepower on tap, the six-speed automatic or manual do a decent job of extracting useful power. Much better is the 240-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6, which still delivers fuel economy, at worst, of 18/25 mpg. Automatic four-cylinders will get up to 22/31 mpg, and the Hybrid edition can be coaxed to deliver 41/36 mpg, tops in the mid-size sedan niche.
Ride and handling are a major attraction of the Milan. Compared to the Toyota Camry or even the latest Honda Accord, the Milan drives in a more engaging manner, and ride quality is smooth and drama-free. The electric power steering can feel numb, but it's a step up from the feel you'd get on a Hyundai Sonata, for example. The Milan also offers spacious accommodations with ample legroom and lots of space for cargo. Adults fit fine in the rear seats, and all five seats are comfortable.
Four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, as well as side and curtain airbags, are standard on every 2010 Milan and Milan. For every trim level, AdvanceTrac electronic stability control is now an option. The Milan gets a five-star rating for frontal driver and passenger impact tests and driver-side crash protection, along with four stars for passenger side-impact safety, and it's been named an IIHS "Top Safety Pick."
Ford will build a limited number of Milan and Milan Hybrid sedans for sale as 2011 models. If you prefer their style to that of the Fusion, better find one--quickly.