Full 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid Review
What's New for 2010
The 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid is a new gasoline-electric variation of Mercury's midsize sedan, which itself is a mild variation of Ford's Fusion. As with all other 2010 Milans, the Hybrid benefits from this year's updates, which include more distinct styling and greatly improved interior controls.
Like the little kid tagging along with his big brother, Mercury is always there to copy-cat its more successful Ford sibling. So when the blue oval's midsize Fusion sedan got saddled with a modern gasoline-electric hybrid system, the 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid was following closely behind.
If you're interested in a hybrid, your choices are few, far between and very mediocre. There's a reason a certain funky Toyota hybrid hatchback outsells all other gas-electric models combined. Everything else is too slow, too small, too expensive, too rare, not efficient enough or just not a very good car. The Milan Hybrid -- and its Ford twin -- change all that. They are the first hybrids from the United States that offer a fully functional gasoline-electric powertrain that isn't connected to a giant full-size SUV. Mercury's compact Mariner Hybrid doesn't meet that criterion because it can't run in full electric mode with the air-conditioning on. The Milan can. It can also be purchased in all 50 states (unlike the otherwise desirable Nissan Altima Hybrid) and is based on a fun-to-drive family sedan (unlike the Toyota Camry Hybrid). And although its real-world fuel economy isn't quite as spectacular as the EPA estimates would suggest, the Milan Hybrid is still one of the most frugal gas sippers you can purchase.
Aside from all its hybrid-related bits and pieces, the Milan Hybrid is essentially a well-equipped Milan Premier. As such it gets all the welcome improvements made for the 2010 Milan. The exterior styling was updated a little, and the interior was given a thorough makeover. Whereas the previous cabin felt distinctly dated, the 2010 Milan has improved interior materials quality and all-new entertainment and climate controls. To this, the Hybrid adds the fancy "SmartGauge" instrument cluster, which consists of two color LCD screens flanking a traditional speedometer. The driver can select among four information modes, most of which have to do with hybrid power flow and fuel economy. One includes animated leaves and branches -- the more economically you drive, the fuller your shrubbery becomes.
Although the 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid doesn't avoid the typical price premium over a similarly equipped gas-only version (about $4,000), it betters its meager hybrid competition in more areas than any other rival (including the Chevy Malibu, Altima and Camry hybrids). It is more engaging to drive than all but the Altima, and is more spacious and features a much nicer interior than them all. The Milan Hybrid also achieves the best fuel economy. Of course, the Prius and the Honda Insight achieve better fuel economy, have more cargo space and are cheaper, but they're also much slower, weirder and dull to drive. In other words, whether it's the Milan or the Fusion, your hybrid choices just got a whole lot better.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid comes in a lone trim level. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, foglamps, cruise control, keyless entry and keypad code exterior access, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power front seats (eight-way driver, six-way passenger), eco-friendly cloth upholstery, an LCD gauge cluster, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, the Sync electronics interface system (includes Bluetooth and an iPod interface), and a six-speaker stereo with a six-CD/MP3 changer, auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio.
Options include the Moon & Tune package that adds a 12-speaker surround-sound system and a sunroof. The voice-activated navigation system is hard-drive-based and includes DVD audio and video capability, 10GB of digital music storage and Sirius Travel Link (real-time traffic, weather and other information). The Driver's Vision package adds a blind-spot warning system, a rearview camera and cross-traffic alert. Leather upholstery and heated front seats are also available.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid utilizes a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that produces 156 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque. It is paired with an electric motor that helps bumps power output up to 191 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission. The result is a 0-60-mph acceleration time of 8.7 seconds, which is quite swift for a hybrid. Fuel economy is an EPA estimated 41 mpg city/36 mpg highway. The city number is a full 8 mpg better than the Camry Hybrid's, although 7 mpg shy of the Prius. As always, your mileage will vary greatly depending on driving conditions and how much lead lines your shoes.
The 2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and rear parking sensors. A blind-spot warning system and rearview camera are optional. At our test track, the Milan's twin, the Fusion Hybrid, stopped from 60 mph in a tidy 126 feet, which is the best distance we've recorded among non-luxury hybrid cars.
Although the 2010 Milan Hybrid had not been crash-tested as of this writing, the 2009 Milan posted very strong government crash test ratings, with a perfect five stars for frontal collision protection and front side protection. It earned four stars for rear side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the otherwise identical '09 Fusion its best rating of "Good" for frontal offset and side crash protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Milan Hybrid's high-quality cabin features abundant soft-touch materials, and the overall look is a little snazzier than the more austere Fusion. The center stack is a bit button-happy, but it's a significant ergonomic and aesthetic improvement over its dated predecessor. The available Sync system works great, integrating audio and Bluetooth functions with voice-recognition technology to provide easy hands-free operation of cell phones and portable MP3 players. The Hybrid gets its own gauge cluster, dubbed SmartGauge, featuring a pair of color display screens flanking a traditional speedometer. There's a wealth of information displayed and the graphics are pleasant and modern, but it takes some discipline to avoid becoming fixated on the pretty lights.
The Milan has plenty of space for front and rear occupants. Drivers, in particular, will appreciate the comfortable position. Interior storage space is adequate, but as is typical for hybrid sedans, the trunk is compromised by the car's battery pack. At only 11.8 cubic feet and with no folding rear seat, cargo capacity is still bigger than in the Altima and Camry hybrids, but much smaller than the hatchback Prius.
Other than its Ford twin and the Altima Hybrid (which is only sold in nine states), the 2010 Mercury Milan is the most involving hybrid to drive. While we wouldn't go so far as to call it fun, the Milan Hybrid nevertheless provides ample steering feedback, and body control through corners is impressive. The ride is comfortable and quiet. The Milan doesn't allow for the same sort of electric-only driving range as the Toyota hybrids, but its electric motor assists the gas engine for a longer period of time, which benefits fuel economy.