San Francisco: Clean,
fresh styling on the 2006 Mercury Milan is similar to the Ford Fusion
but not totally identical. It's a classy looking car, with Mercury's
signature grille drawing attention to its distinctive front end.
Aluminum-look trim and a two-tone cabin make the Milan feel like a
low-priced Jaguar on the inside. It's a quiet, comfortable cabin that's
great for long commutes.
Welcome back, all you journalism fans. It's
time for the lightning round in America's hot new game show, "How to
Review a Mercury." For the first question, pick how you'd describe the
2006 Mercury Milan.
Choice A: "It's the best car Mercury's made
Choice B: "It's an overpriced Ford Fusion."
Choice C: "Is Mercury still around?"
And the answer is ... well, it's a trick
question. A and B are both right, and C will probably be right in a
couple of years.
The all-new Milan is the best car Mercury
has made in a long, long time. It looks great, drives even better and
starts at the bargain-basement price of $18,995. It's a knockout.
At the same time, that's a full $1,000 more
than the Ford Fusion, a virtually identical car for all practical
purposes. Sure, there are some styling differences between the two, but
you're basically paying at least $1,000 - or more than that on some
higher end versions - for a robot to put "Mercury" on the hood instead
of "Ford." If you're sick of hearing jokes that involve the phrase "Fix
Or Repair Daily," it might be worth it.
In any case, it's an outstanding car that
can compete head-to-head with anything the Japanese have to offer. Just
like its Ford cousin, it's a stylish, solid, well-engineered car, and
it's probably the best mid-size sedan the Ford Motor Company has made in
You can tell the Milan has high aspirations
as soon as you sit in the cabin. It has trim that looks like brushed
aluminum, an upscale, two-tone color scheme, and contrasting colored
stitching in the leather seats. Basically, it looks like a half-price
Outside, it has the same feeling of
sportiness and precision as the Fusion, with a chiseled, muscular body
and distinctive front end. It's not exactly the same as its Ford
counterpart -- its roof and side glass are subtly different, for
instance, and the taillights look better -- but they're close enough
that many people wouldn't notice the difference.
The driving feel, however, is a carbon copy
of the Fusion, which is nothing to complain about. It's a great car for
long commutes, but it also can be fun on twisty roads. The base Milan
comes with a 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower.
While that's not an awful choice, a more fitting engine for this
semi-luxury car is the 3.0-liter, 221-horsepower V6.
Mercury's V6 engine is a good one, offering
smooth, even acceleration at most speeds without ever sounding coarse or
unrefined. It's got a lot of pep. An optional five-speed automatic
transmission is another impressive piece of machinery, especially at the
Milan's price. It offers a nearly telepathic link with the driver,
shifting faster and with more spunk during spirited driving and
switching to smoother, easier shifts when you want to loaf down the
highway. Even at high speeds, the Milan's cabin stays quiet enough to
carry on conversations via whispers. It feels like high-end luxury cars
did only a few years ago.
The Milan also shares a downside with the
Fusion: it's assembled in Mexico, unlike most of its competitors from
"import" brands that are actually built here in the U.S.A. While the
engineering and design work that went into this car went primarily to
American employees, it's a shame that it's becoming difficult to find a
real, all-American car nowadays.
It's also a shame that Mercury couldn't
better differentiate the Milan from its cheaper Ford relative. Mercury's
lineup is now almost identical to Ford's, and the brand needs to make
itself into something more special if it wants to see substantial growth
in the future.
Otherwise, we'll have to start the next
episode of "How to Review a Mercury" with choice C.
What was tested? 2006 Mercury Milan Premier
($22,845). Options: Heated front seats ($295), audiophile sound system
($420), traction control ($95), safety and security package ($595).
Price as tested (including $650 destination charge): $24,250
Why buy it? It's an all-around good car. It
looks great, drives well, and has a solid, stylish, practical cabin.
It's the best car Mercury's made in years.
James E. Bryson © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Ford Home Page
Byline: Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo ©
Milan is a great car, but so is its cousin
2006 Mercury Milan Premier
2006 Mercury Milan Premier
Mercury Internet Media
2006 - 06
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2006 Mercury Milan