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2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid Review – The hybrid sedan for the non-hybrid crowd

Tuesday December 8th, 2009 at 11:1212 AM
Posted by: AKramer

2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid

Review by Alex Kramer

Pros:

  • Outstanding gas mileage
  • Good balance between performance and fuel economy
  • Excellent suspension tuning
  • Plush & roomy interior

Cons:

  • Cautious exterior styling
  • Sketchy tire selection
  • Somewhat steep sticker price

After a decade of reliable service and strong sales, hybrid cars are no longer just a novelty and will likely become more common and mainstream in the future. Although Ford has the distinction of being the first American manufacturer to offer a hybrid car (in the form of the Escape Hybrid SUV, launched in 2005), the blue oval has lagged a bit in spreading this fuel saving technology to other models in its lineup, which is a shame given the increasingly strong demand for more fuel efficient, environmentally friendly cars.

Fortunately, Ford has weathered the storm of the economic recession and is renewing its commitment to gasoline-electric hybrids and increased fuel efficiency in general. With the new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid sedans, Ford not only challenges the Japanese hybrid hegemony, but has also succeeded in producing one of the most well rounded hybrid cars on the road today.

2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid

Performance

Our Mercury Milan Hybrid test car arrived looking quite inconspicuous, with only a few hybrid badges on the sides and trunk to giveaway that this is not just an ordinary gasoline powered sedan. Get behind the wheel and the Milan hybrid continues the sleight-of-hand, with road manners that are very similar to the conventionally powered Ford Fusion we recently tested. Anyone expecting major concessions to performance or handling due to the hybrid-electric drivetrain will come away pleasantly surprised.

To turn the Milan sedan into a hybrid, Ford takes its 2.5 liter 4-cylinder engine and tunes it to run on the Atkinson cycle, and then adds all of the usual hybrid goodies (battery pack, electric motor, etc.). Although this is essentially the same setup used in the current Escape Hybrid, Ford has tweaked things a bit to make it work in the new platform, including a new cooling system for the battery pack that draws in cold air through the rear seats. Unlike mild hybrids that only use electric power to boost acceleration, but can’t run on electricity alone, Ford’s system allows the Milan Hybrid to propel itself on electric power for a limited duration at speeds up to 47 mph, which is faster than any other hybrid currently available.

2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid

Altogether, this system works very well, with smooth transitions between electric and engine power, and equally impressive integration of the regenerative and conventional braking systems. Although not sports sedan fast, acceleration is quite strong and should help dispel the assumption that all hybrids are slow. Combined output from the ICE and electric motor is 191 hp, which is more than adequate for merging on the freeway or passing that errant 18-wheeler. The CVT is especially noteworthy for not constantly hunting around to find the right gear, which helps the Milan Hybrid stay nice and quiet when cruising at speed.

To top it off, fuel efficiency is the real deal. Over several hundred miles of mixed driving we averaged between 38 and 39 mpg, and with a little bit of hypermiling 40+ mpg is easily achievable. To encourage frugal driving, Ford offers its SmartGuage cluster with EcoGuide, which consists of LCD displays on each side of the speedometer that display such things as battery charge/discharge levels, instant fuel economy, fuel economy history, etc. The driver can choose from four different settings – Inform, Enlighten, Engage, or Empower – which offer increasingly detailed information to assist the driver in driving more efficiency. The most creative and amusing encouragement comes in the form of a vine-like plant, displayed on the right hand side, which grows more leaves when you drive more conservatively and sheds leaves if you dip into the gas a bit much.

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