2010 Mercury Milan HybridPosted on July 30th, 2009
Stylish mid-sized sedan goes green
By Nina Russin
This year, Ford and Mercury add hybrid options to their popular mid-sized sedans. The Fusion and Milan share the same powertrain: a 2.5-liter gasoline engine with a 106-horsepower electric motor and continuously-variable automatic transmission. A nickel-metal hydride battery pack is mounted between the trunk and back seats.
The difference between the two sedans is styling: the Milan appeals to a more upscale audience with a dressed-up exterior and interior. The premier grade (tested) rides on 17-inch aluminum wheels. Inside, two-tone leather trim, a leather wrapped steering wheel and metallic finishes on the instrument panel have a similar feel to contemporary home furniture.
Eco displays on the instrument panels are slightly different. The Fusion records fuel economy on a bar graph to the right of the speedometer. The Milan uses a leaf display: the number of leaves reflects the driver‘s efficiency.
Several months back, I spent a week in the Fusion Hybrid; this week I had a chance to test drive the Milan. My Fusion test drive had left me with extremely favorable impressions: I averaged over forty miles per gallon on a mixture of highways and city streets.
While I drove the Fusion in relatively mild weather, I was testing the Milan during the hottest part of the Phoenix summer. Average temperatures during my test drive were 108-110 degrees. I was curious to see how the extreme temperatures would affect my fuel economy and the car’s overall performance.
Longer EV range
Engineers were able to extend the all-electric mode on the hybrid to much higher speeds. Whereas competitors utilize the gasoline engine above 25 miles-per-hour, the Fusion and Milan can run in pure electric mode up to 47 mph. It makes a significant difference on surface streets, where average speeds are in the mid-40s.
The car starts up in pure electric mode: the electric motor powers the accessories and air conditioning. The gas engine kicks in when the car starts moving.
The engine needs to warm up to operating temperature before on-board computers take over. At that point the car can operate in drive in pure electric mode.
I averaged 38 miles-per-gallon on the highway: two mpg better than the Milan’s EPA estimate. Average fuel economy on surface streets was about the same as the federal estimate of 41 mpg.
I used a couple of eco-driving techniques: limiting hard acceleration, and maintaining engine speeds under 2000 rpm. I made an effort to coast when I could, keeping up with the speed of traffic. I also tried to adjust vehicle speed when approaching traffic lights, to avoid unnecessary stops and starts.
I did not use the cruise control, or cut the ignition at any point. While these techniques can significantly improve gas mileage, they aren’t habits most drivers employ, especially when commuting through thick urban traffic.
Once the engine had reached operating temperature, the pure-electric mode made a big difference on the surface streets. To stay in the mode, engine load needs to be low: the gas engine kicks on during acceleration from a stop, and on uphill grades. But the fact that the car can idle with the air conditioner running, and run in pure electric mode on flat streets and downhills saves a lot of gas.
Available blind spot information system
The Milan comes with an available blind spot information system and cross-traffic alert. When cars in adjacent lanes are in the driver’s blind spots, a light on the outside mirror illuminates. The system also alerts the driver about cars crossing to the back, using an audible signal.
The safety benefits of the technology are obvious, but it has fuel economy benefits as well. Moving smoothly through traffic is one of the key concepts in eco-driving. The less the driver has to blip the throttle or apply the brakes, the better his average gas mileage will be.
The blind spot information system enables the driver to plan lane changes without looking over his shoulders. By not interrupting his forward vision, the system helps the driver to maintain a consistent throttle, making smaller adjustments to the vehicle in front.
EcoGuide gauge cluster
The gauge cluster displays battery charge to the left of the speedometer, and illuminates green bars when the car is in pure electric mode. A reset button on the steering wheel clears the information screen, so the driver can determine average fuel economy for each trip.
A display to the right shows instant and average fuel economy. Keeping fuel economy in the 40-60 mile-per-hour range causes leaves to appear on the right side of the screen.
While the leaves are attractive, I found the bar graph in the Fusion easier to follow. After driving the Fusion for several days, I noticed my average fuel economy increased on comparable terrain. I wasn’t able to replicate this with the leaf display on the Milan.
The nicest thing about both the Fusion and Milan Hybrids is their performance. The fact that electric motors develop maximum torque at extremely low speeds gives both cars exceptional low end power. The transition between pure-electric and gasoline-electric mode is seamless.
The brakes feel a little grabby at startup, but pedal feel is good after the car reaches operating temperature. A fully independent suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars provides a compliant ride while keeping the chassis flat in the turns.
Rack-and-pinion steering has good response at all speeds: on-center response on the highway is positive. The Milan’s 37.5-foot turning radius makes the occasional U-turn a non-issue.
Despite its battery pack, the Milan doesn’t perform like a heavy or unbalanced car. Standard electronic stability control helps the driver to maintain directional control on wet roads.
Other standard safety features include antilock brakes, traction control, front, side and side curtain airbags. If the driver syncs his phone to the Ford Sync system, the vehicle will automatically notify police and medical personnel in the event of an accident.
The blind spot detection system is part of a convenience package that also includes a rearview camera, power moonroof and audio upgrade ($3735).
The Mariner’s stylish interior comes nicely equipped with standard convenience features, including dual-zone climate control, heated seats, a reverse sensing system, and wiring for Sirius satellite radio. Ford’s Sync system allows drivers to download songs directly into the car’s hard drive. The standard keypad entry system allows passengers to unlock the car using a numeric code.
An optional navigation system ($1775) includes speed limit alert and points of interest. Sirius subscribers can also get real-time traffic data. The navigation screen also serves as the display for the backup camera and energy meter display.
Both rows of seats have ample head, leg and hip room, with good lower back support. The middle rear seat has restricted legroom due to the floor tunnel and protruding center console. Adults won’t be comfortable, except for very short trips.
Passengers have access to cupholders in the center console, and a fold-down rear armrest. A 110-volt outlet in back of the center console allows second-row passengers to plug in a computer.
There are plenty of storage bins in the cabin: bottle and map holders in the front doors, a large glove box, and two-piece center console bin. A covered bin at the top of the center stack is handy for documents. The overhead console includes overhead reading lamps and a sunglass holder.
The Achilles heel of most hybrid sedans is the trunk, due to the location of the battery pack. The trunk is the Milan is pretty spacious as hybrid sedans go. I was able to toss a weekend’s worth of luggage inside without a problem.
Base price for the Milan Hybrid is $27,500, not including a $725 destination charge. The new Milan Hyrbid is on display at Mercury dealerships nationwide.
Likes: An affordable hybrid with excellent fuel economy, power and performance, as well as a high level of standard safety and convenience features.
Dislike: Center rear seat lacks legroom.
Model: Milan Hybrid
Base price: $27,500
As tested: $33,075
Horsepower: 156 @ 6000 rpm*
Torque: 136 lbs.-ft. @ 2250 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 41/36 mpg city/highway
Comments: Net horsepower for the gasoline engine and electric motor is 191.
2 responses to “2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid”
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tom moen October 29th, 2011 at 11:38
The turning “radius” is 18.85ft NOT 37.5ft.
The turning circle is approx 37.5ft.
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