Driven: 2010 Mercury Milan

May 8, 2009

There's nothing like spending some quality time behind the wheel of a car to convincingly determine  whether you like what you're driving. Not that long ago, I made a one-day round trip from Detroit to Chicago in a 2010 Mercury Milan. Given how Ford Motor Company has completely squandered everything positive about the Mercury brand, the new Milan exists without recognition or genuine purpose. Too bad, as this Mercury is a fine mid-size sedan.  We're working on an updated review, but to get an overview of the Milan, see what we wrote about the 2009 model here. What follows is a quick driving impressions gleaned from 11 hours behind the wheel in one sitting.

Compared to the 2009 Milan, the 2010 edition gets a much-improved, larger four-cylinder powertrain that delivers better mileage. With a six-speed automatic, the new 2.5-liter I-4 achieves an EPA rating of 23 mpg city, 34 mpg highway -- impressive for a roomy mid-size sedan. (Washington, D.C., do you realize this car exists?) Knowing that gasoline will get expensive again, this combo is one to consider. With the cruise set on 80 mph, the average economy for our trip was 31 mpg.

Sometimes maximum fuel economy is achieved through a reduction in performance, but in the transition of 2009 to 2010, Mercury actually improved the performance of their base four-cylinder offering. With 175 horsepower (up 14 from 2009), the new Milan never felt slow. The new six-speed automatic helps here, keeping the engine in the sweet spot for power when the driver opens the throttle. The powertrain isn't perfect, though, as sometimes during part-throttle acceleration it seemed that there was some "slack" in the driveline, so occasionally there was a little roughness that seemed to come from the front-wheel-drive components.

Nearly all of the 600 miles we logged on the trip was on Interstate 94. The highway isn't in the greatest shape, but the 2010 Milan insulates the cabin from most of the road nasties. Wind noise is low, nearly on par with a recently sampled 2010 Lexus RX. Regardless of the poor driving surfaces, the Milan never complained with squeaks or rattles, a sure sign of solid build quality. Dynamically, the handling is spot-on for a family sedan. More steering feel, however, would improve the driving experience.

Spending 600 miles in the saddle is a sure fire way to test the long-term comfort of a car's seats. The 2010 Milan's passed the test. Our backsides appreciated the provided support.The long trip also required a fuel stop, and for the first time we sampled Ford Motor Company's "capless" fuel filler system. A trap door seals the filler neck, so there is no fuel cap to screw off and back on. The convenience is so obvious and so welcomed. Every vehicle should have this system it's so good.

Checking here for pricing information on the 2010 Mercury Milan. Prices for this well-equipped mid-size start in the low $20s. For this amount, the unknown and unrecognized Mercury is worth knowing and recognizing.

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