Mercury, which ranks as Ford Motor Co.'s more upscale division, has a new model ready for 2006. The company unveiled the five-passenger Milan midsize sedan at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show. The Milan is related to the new Ford Fusion and Lincoln Zephyr.
Serving as Mercury's most-affordable model but billed by the automaker as upscale and expressive, the sedan is available in two trim levels: standard and better-equipped Premier. A 2.3-liter four-cylinder and a 3.0-liter V-6 are available. About a year after its introduction, the Milan will be offered with all-wheel drive in addition to the regular front-wheel-drive version.
The company says designers drew inspiration from large, modern cities when creating the Milan. Signature design cues include the waterfall grille and the use of trim with a satin-aluminum finish. Wide headlights wrap into the hood, and LED taillights are installed. The Milan has a short-/long-arm front suspension and a multilink rear suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes are used.
Designers looked at the finishes of home appliances and the details of finely crafted handbags for inspiration in styling the five-occupant interior. Leather upholstery is complemented by Satin Metallic or Wales Mahogany wood trim. Two-tone leather seats with contrast stitching are optional.
The automaker says that extending the back doors rearward improves rear-seat access for taller passengers. A spring-assisted mechanism can help fold down the 60/40-split rear seat. The trunk can hold 15.6 cubic feet of cargo, and a pass-thru into the passenger compartment allows long items to be carried.
The Milan has a six-way power driver's seat, a CD stereo, an analog clock, remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, and power heated mirrors.
Under the Hood
The Milan's 2.3-liter four-cylinder produces 160 horsepower and drives either a five-speed-manual gearbox or a five-speed-automatic transmission. Only a six-speed automatic is offered with the 221-hp, 3.0-liter V-6. Both engines run on regular-grade gasoline.
Side-impact and side curtain-type airbags are optional. Antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are standard.
The V-6-powered Milan starts off in a hurry and, after some delay, delivers ample acceleration for passing and merging. The automatic transmission is well-behaved most of the time, but it doesn't change gears the same way every time. At low speeds, a modest jolt occasionally occurs with the shift.
Generally quiet, the Milan does exhibit some engine blare when accelerating hard. Certain road surfaces produce a bit of noise, too. Although the ride is generally satisfying, some rough spots induce rather harsh responses.
The Milan is spacious in front. The seats aren't especially firm and provide modest support. Outboard rear occupants get ample room, but the center passenger must endure a rather hard perch and a serious shortage of headroom.
Though competent and capable in nearly every area, and sensible overall, the Milan doesn't quite stand out from the pack. Except for some Mercury design cues and a bit more refinement, it's not much different than its Ford Fusion sibling.
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