What's New for 2006
The Milan is an all-new midsize family sedan from Mercury. A twin of the Fusion, it offers unique interior and exterior design cues, along with a choice of four-cylinder or V6 power.
Mercury, like Buick and Chrysler, is on a mission to attract younger buyers. To do this the company must inject its product line with models that will appeal to shoppers under the age of 40. The all-new Mercury Milan is intended to accomplish this by combining a low-priced, midsize sedan with attractive styling and sporty handling -- all characteristics not normally associated with Mercury cars.
As the corporate twin to Ford's Fusion, the Mercury Milan shares much of that sedan's architecture, drivetrain configuration and safety technology. But Mercury is banking on the idea that today's Generation X'ers, or at least a certain percentage of them, will prefer the Milan's unique styling and premium dealership experience over the higher-volume Fusion. Other subtleties, such as rear doors that extend further back toward the C-pillars to ease rear-seat entry/egress, reflect the division's philosophy of offering a more upscale experience to Mercury buyers. The Mercury Milan, like the Fusion, rides on a stretched, widened version of the highly acclaimed Mazda 6 platform, giving it nimble handling from the four-wheel independent suspension and rack and pinion steering system. Because the Milan is both wider and longer than the Mazda 6, it combines a confident demeanor with adequate interior space for five adult passengers.
Milan power comes from either a 160-horsepower four-cylinder or a 221-hp V6. The smaller engine is hooked to a standard five-speed manual transmission with a five-speed automatic optional, but the V6 can only be had with a six-speed automatic transmission. The V6 includes dual exhaust pipes, and both engines feature four-valve-per-cylinder heads and 150,000-mile tune-up intervals. To address the safety concerns of premium sedan buyers, Ford strengthened the car's platform in various areas. An optional side airbag package offers seat-deployed torso airbags for front passengers and side curtain airbags that protect both front and rear occupants. Will the 2006 Mercury Milan's waterfall grille, LED taillamps and quieter highway ride prove a compelling alternative to Ford's mainstream Fusion? For a certain percentage of drivers, it undoubtedly will.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The midsize Mercury Milan sedan comes in two trim levels, base and Premier. The base model rides on 16-inch wheels and includes items like air conditioning, an MP3-compatible CD stereo with six speakers, a six-way power driver seat, a split-folding rear seat, an analog clock, cruise control, full power accessories and keyless entry. Options include alloy wheels, a sunroof, an upgraded eight-speaker stereo and in-dash CD changer. Premier models are upgraded with 17-inch aluminum wheels, a CD changer and leather seating. In addition to the options on the base Milan, Premier models are eligible for heated front seats, as well as a Comfort Package with automatic climate control, automatic headlights, foglamps and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Powertrains and Performance
The Milan's base 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine makes 160 horsepower and meets PZEV certification in California. It's connected to a standard five-speed manual transmission, and a five-speed automatic is optional. A 221-hp, 3.0-liter V6 is optional on both the base and Premier trims. It comes with one transmission, a six-speed automatic. This transmission shifts well enough, but we wish it had a true manual-shift mode instead of just two forward-gear gates ("D" and "L").
Four-wheel disc brakes are standard on all Milans. Antilock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution are optional on base Milans and standard on the Premium trim, and traction control can be had on V6 models. Stability control is not available. An optional Safety and Security package gives the Milan front-seat side airbags and head-protecting side curtain airbags for all outboard occupants. Without the side bags, the Mercury Milan scored four stars (out of five) in NHTSA frontal- and side-impact (front and rear) testing. With the side bags, the scores were the same, save for side impact for front passengers, in which it earned five stars. In frontal offset crash testing conducted by the IIHS, the Milan scored "Acceptable," the second-highest rating.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Milan's upscale interior offers an effective blend of premium materials and functional design elements. The interior is supposed to reflect the high-quality living environments of today's young professionals. Upscale Milans feature leather seating surfaces with contrasting stitching, and a Wales Mahogany wood finish or Satin Metallic trim can be ordered on Premium models. Base and optional audio systems are MP3-capable, and the split-folding rear seat, along with a 15.6-cubic-foot trunk, adds to the Milan's utility. Most buyers will find the Mercury Milan suitably roomy with ample head-, shoulder and legroom for adults to ride comfortably in the front or back.
With responsive steering and a quiet ride, the 2006 Mercury Milan is one of the sportier and more luxurious vehicles in the midsize sedan segment. It demonstrates a willingness to corner and change directions at speed with enthusiasm. Ride quality is acceptable, especially considering the above-average handling. Wind and road noise are effectively quelled at highway speeds, and the transmission offers crisp upshifts and downshifts. More horsepower would add to this Mercury's "premium" aspirations, but as it is, the Milan offers upscale overall performance at a relatively low price.