2011 Mercury Milan Sedan - FROM $22,025
The 2011 Mercury Milan offers a combination of style, comfort and drivability that make it surprisingly competitive in the crowded midsize sedan segment.
What's New for 2011
For its final model year, the 2011 Mercury Milan adds one-touch power front windows and integrated spotter mirrors to the standard equipment list. New options include rain-sensing windshield wipers, HD radio and an Appearance package featuring 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and a rear spoiler. The available voice-operated Sync system also boasts a new Traffic, Directions and Information service. The fold-flat front passenger seat has been dropped, and the optional Sony audio system now has a single-CD player in place of last year's six-disc changer.
The last decade has seen the demise of one venerable automotive brand after another. Ford's midrange Mercury brand is about to join that list, which unfortunately means the 2011 Mercury Milan sedan's days are numbered.
We say unfortunately because the midsize Milan has a lot to offer buyers looking for an upscale, right-sized four-door. Like its near identical twin, the Ford Fusion, the Milan got a big makeover last year that included a stylish new exterior, an updated passenger cabin and more powerful and fuel-efficient engines to make it one of the most well-rounded entries in the highly competitive midsize sedan category.
Adding to the Milan's appeal for its final model year are a number of incremental improvements, including outside wide-angle spotter mirrors, available rain-sensing windshield wipers, an HD radio option and a so-called Appearance package that bundles 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and a rear spoiler. The available voice-activated Sync system also gets a new Traffic, Directions and Information service that can deliver everything from real-time traffic reports and turn-by-turn driving directions to info on local businesses, news headlines and even daily horoscopes.
While the Milan has much to recommend it, it does have a couple of minor flaws. The four-cylinder engine in the base model sounds a bit unrefined under hard acceleration and the electric power steering feels vaguely disconnected, though these faults are not exactly uncommon for cars in this segment. Certainly, you'll also want to check out other top sedans like the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda 6 and Nissan Altima. But deals will likely be strong as Mercury approaches its end; going with the often overlooked Milan would be a very smart choice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Mercury Milan is a midsize sedan available in base or Premier trims. The base comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry (via either the key fob or an external security keypad), cruise control, air-conditioning, an eight-way power driver seat, 60/40-split rear seats, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with auxiliary controls, and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. The Sun & Sync package adds a sunroof, auto-dimming mirror and Sync (available separately), which includes iPod integration, Bluetooth and three years of Traffic, Directions and Information services.
The Premier adds 17-inch alloys, foglamps, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, power heated front seats, leather upholstery, unique interior trim and Sync. The Premier's Driver's Vision package adds a blind-spot warning system, rearview camera and rain-sensing wipers. The Moon & Tune package adds a sunroof and 12-speaker Sony surround-sound system. The Appearance package is actually much more, with 18-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, unique exterior trim and leather upholstery. Parking sensors are optional on both trims.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Mercury Milan comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 175 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is standard on base Milans, while a six-speed automatic is optional on the base car and standard on the Premier. This engine is available only with front-wheel drive. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined with the automatic.
Optional on the Premier is a 3.0-liter V6 that produces 240 hp and 223 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic are standard, but all-wheel drive is optional. In performance testing, we found the Milan's Ford Fusion twin with the 3.0-liter engine went from zero to 60 mph in a mediocre 7.3 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 22/29/24 with front-wheel drive.
Antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags are standard on all Milan models. In government crash testing, the Milan earned a top five-star rating for its protection of front occupants in head-on collisions. In the side-impact test, the 2011 Mercury Milan earned five stars for front passengers and four stars for those in the rear. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the Milan earned a top rating of "Good" in both the frontal-offset and side-impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
Of all the Milan's good qualities, the passenger cabin stands out as worthy of special mention. The overall look is attractive, and the use of soft-touch materials gives it a distinctly classy appearance. Though it's not the largest model in either the Mercury lineup or the family sedan segment, the interior feels roomy and seats four adults comfortably. In back, a relatively large trunk offers 16.5 cubic feet of cargo room, which is made more useful by the 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks. Unfortunately the fold-flat front passenger seat that allowed owners to carry extra-long items with the trunk lid closed has been dropped.
Though the dash layout seems to have a lot of buttons, everything works pretty intuitively. The ability to control your cell phone and MP3 player hands-free via the Sync system is a definite plus for folks who spend lots of time in their cars. Sync's new Traffic, Directions and Information service -- which is free for the first three years -- just makes it that much more handy.
Though it might be easy to write the 2011 Mercury Milan off as just another wallflower family sedan, this upscale midsize sedan is actually surprisingly enjoyable to drive. The engines aren't especially energetic compared to competitors, but the suspension provides above-average handling with little body roll in turns, while still managing to provide a comfortable ride quality. The only significant downsides, in fact, are the harsh sounds produced by the four-cylinder under aggressive acceleration and the electric power steering that feels a bit too light and numb.