Full 2011 Mercury Milan Hybrid Review
What's New for 2011
Even though it's being discontinued after this year, the 2011 Mercury Milan Hybrid gets new standard one-touch power front windows and an outside mirror with an integrated blind-spot surface. Rain-sensing windshield wipers and HD radio are added to the options list. The standard voice-operated Sync system also now comes with a three-year complimentary subscription to the new Traffic, Directions and Information service.
For all the recent hype about hybrids, there aren't as many good gasoline/electric-powered models out there as you might expect. The 2011 Mercury Milan Hybrid is a notable exception, though Ford's decision to drop the entire Mercury brand means it won't be available much longer.
This midsize sedan is a near clone to the Ford Fusion Hybrid and it manages to avoid the shortcomings that make so many other hybrid models rather underwhelming. In fact, it's safe to say the Milan Hybrid offers a combination of respectable performance, outstanding fuel economy, good looks, a roomy interior and a reasonable price tag that few other hybrids can match.
The Milan Hybrid essentially starts out as a slightly better-equipped base Milan. To this Mercury adds a combination of a four-cylinder gasoline engine with two battery-driven electric motor/generators and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The EPA estimates you'll get 41 mpg city and 36 mpg highway from this powertrain, which is considerably better than the numbers posted by the Milan's other competitors in the midsize-sedan category.
As with the regular Milan, the Hybrid also boasts a spacious, well-finished cabin loaded with thoughtful luxury features. Highlights of the latter include dual-zone automatic climate control, rear park assist and Ford's superb Sync multimedia voice control system. Trunk space does suffer because of the space taken up by the battery pack, but there's still enough room for a fair amount of luggage or gear.
As far as hybrids go, we think pretty highly of the Fusion/Milan Hybrid twins and the Toyota Prius. Same goes for the Nissan Altima Hybrid, though it's not sold in all 50 states. The jury's still out on the forthcoming 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, but the rest of the hybrids on the market -- including the Honda Insight and Toyota Camry Hybrid -- are either less enjoyable to drive, not as fuel-efficient, nowhere near as stylish or some combination of all three.
So if you're looking for an environmentally friendly car that doesn't sacrifice style, performance or comfort, it's worth the time to look closer at the 2011 Mercury Milan Hybrid before it becomes history.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Mercury Milan Hybrid comes in a single 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, four-way passenger), eco-friendly cloth upholstery, an LCD gauge cluster, one-touch up/down power front windows, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 110-volt household-style power outlet, 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. The Sync system also now includes a complimentary three-year subscription to the new Traffic, Directions and Information service.
Options (many of which are grouped in a "Rapid Spec 301A" package) include leather upholstery, heated front seats, a rear spoiler and the Moon & Tune package that adds a 12-speaker surround-sound system and a sunroof. Other electronics upgrades include HD radio capability and a hard-drive-based voice-activated navigation system that features 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 rain-sensing windshield wipers, a blind-spot warning system, a rearview camera and cross-traffic alert.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 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 bump power output up to 191 hp and 166 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a CVT. 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 and 39 mpg combined. The city number is a full 10 mpg better than the Camry Hybrid's, although it's 10 mpg shy of the Prius. As always, your mileage will vary greatly depending on driving conditions and how much lead lines your shoes.
The 2011 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.
The 2011 Milan Hybrid has earned very good scores in government crash tests, with a perfect five stars for frontal impacts. In side-impact tests, it received five stars for front seat passengers and four stars for rear seat occupants. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the nearly identical non-hybrid version its best rating of "Good" for frontal offset and side crash protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
Like its non-hybrid sibling, the 2011 Mercury Milan Hybrid sports a handsome interior, done up in high-quality materials and offering plenty of room for four adults. Unfortunately the hybrid system's battery pack takes up a fair amount of trunk space, but the 11.8 cubic feet of cargo-carrying capacity is still better than what you'll find in the boot of the Altima and Camry hybrids.
At first glance the Milan Hybrid's center stack appears to be awash in buttons, though once you get used to them the controls are relatively straightforward. The hybrid-exclusive SmartGauge cluster includes a pair of color display screens on either side of the speedometer that provide so much useful information you may actually find them a bit distracting.
The Sync system, which offers hands-free control of your cell phone and MP3 player using simple voice commands, is surprisingly useful in everyday driving once you get the hang of it. A new Traffic, Directions and Information service makes it even more so, allowing you to call up real-time traffic reports, driving directions and a wide variety of other info without taking your hands off the wheel.
We can comfortably say that the 2011 Mercury Milan Hybrid is one of the most enjoyable hybrid sedans to drive. In fact, only its Ford Fusion Hybrid sibling and the Nissan Altima Hybrid, which is only sold in nine states, even come close. While we'd stop short of calling the driving experience sporty, the suspension strikes a remarkably good balance between handling and ride comfort and the steering feedback is much better than you'd expect. Decent acceleration, at least by hybrid standards, is the icing on the cake.
The design of the hybrid system also puts many of its competitors to shame. Though it can't propel the car on battery power alone for as long as the Toyota hybrids, the electric motor supplements the gasoline engine's output for a longer period of time, which ultimately helps improve fuel economy.