Although it really defeats the point of a hybrid car to flog it mercilessly on twisty, hilly backroads, that’s exactly what we did to the Milan Hybrid and she held up surprisingly well. The suspension tuning is excellent, with little of the roll and dive common to other hybrid sedans, but plenty of suppleness when the road turns bumpy. In fact, the Milan Hybrid is so balanced and poised that it almost encourages you to pick up the pace when the road turns twisty.
The only major handling liability is a set of Michelin all-season tires that were designed for low rolling resistance rather than cornering grip. Hit a corner with too much speed and the result is significant understeer and some rather loud screeching. Once the Michelins wear out, we’d definitely recommend getting some tires with a bit more traction.
Our test car came loaded with an array of luxury features, including two-tone heated leather seats, navigation, Sony premium audio with surround sound and built-in mp3 jukebox, rearview camera, lane change assist, and power moonroof. The interior is nice and roomy, with good head and legroom for front and rear passengers, and unlike some other hybrid sedans, Ford cleverly arranged the hybrid battery so that it doesn’t take away from trunk space.
Unfortunately, the cooling system for the battery does prohibit the rear seat from folding down, which hampers the car’s practicality. Carrying a bike or other large object pretty much requires getting a roof rack, which will cause a noticeable drop in fuel efficiency. On the plus side, interior materials and surfaces are of commendable quality and are noticeably better than the Fusion we recently tested, which is fitting given Mercury’s slightly more upscale image.
Traditionally, the Mercury brand is known for its overly conservative styling, which the Milan Hybrid does nothing to contradict. We recently critiqued the Fusion for it’s aggressive front-end and less than cohesive design, but we far prefer the Fusion’s attempt at boldness to the Milan’s cautious and bland styling cues. Although we can appreciate the need to create some separation between these two models, the result is one of the more aesthetically uninteresting mid-size sedans on the market today.
Even though she won’t win any beauty pageants, the Milan Hybrid easily impresses with all the performance and practicality of a good mid-size sedan, while also achieving the fuel efficiency of a sub-compact. Our fully-loaded test car did come with a fairly high $33,000 sticker price, but that does include quite a few luxury options. A more sparsely appointed Milan hybrid can be had for well under $30,000.
Anyone looking for significantly increased fuel efficiency that doesn’t involve making many compromises should give the Milan Hybrid a second look. Buyers looking for a bit more visual excitement will no doubt opt for the Fusion Hybrid, but there will always be some folks looking for a less conspicuous ride. Although hybrids have become the go-to status symbol for the outwardly eco-conscious, the Milan Hybrid might just be the perfect car for those looking to save some gas without any of the environmental pretense.
|Official website for Mercury cars and SUVs – www.mercuryvehicles.com|
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