Is it weird that the first thing I think of when looking at the front end of the Mercury Milan is baleen? You know, those whale "teeth" that filter out yummy plankton for them to eat? That's krill for you "Finding Nemo" fans. Other than that, the Mercury Milan does not resemble whales, or even fish for that matter. It does, however, resemble its close sisters, the Ford Fusion and the Lincoln Zephyr. The Fusion replaces the baleen with a three-blade, razor-like cartridge grille, and the Zephyr just does a luxed-up version of the baleen.
The Milan is a nice, simple car. It gets the job done without a fuss. This simplicity is what sets it apart. Sometimes it's just nice to get into a car without feeling like I need to be a computer hacker just to operate the vehicle.
My kids can open the doors and climb in on their own. The Latch connectors are fine, nothing unique. For carpooling, I'm forced to load my oldest in the front passenger seat because I can't squeeze her booster between the other two already loaded in back. Although I'm not totally comfortable with this, my only other option would be strapping her to the roof, and I'm thinking that can't be safe. At least the airbag turns off automatically.
The in-dash storage compartment is more accessible for the driver than the glove box. Accessibility rocks! The two-tiered center console is perfect for CDs and smaller items. And I love the steering-wheel-mounted controls. Mercury doesn't just give me radio buttons, but climate controls as well. How about that, huh?
The biggest downer for me is that the cargo space is a pain. There is no manual trunk release actually on the trunk, leaving me fumbling for the release button on my key fob. Another option is to place the key in the trunk lock to open it. Who does that anymore? That seems almost as antiquated as turning a hand crank to open windows (don't worry, the Milan does offer power windows). And speaking of the trunk, there is no hand-hold for me to use to close it. I get my hands all grimy when I close the trunk. Maybe a small complaint, but I happen to like clean hands.
Let me look at something else here. I am hard-pressed to find a Mercury Milan out on the road. It's like trying to spot a humpback whale in a landlocked state. When I do see a Mercury, it's usually a much, much older woman in a much, much older Mercury. Hmmm. Why is that? Most Mercurys are pretty plain and straightforward, somewhat unnoticeable in the design department. So is Mercury's consumer website. Pretty boring. Their motto is "New Doors Opened." This is a marketing opportunity blown. I know, I'm not reviewing the marketing, but if I were searching for my vehicular soulmate I would expect bright lights, arrows and alarms letting me know I'd found it. I should not be Captain Ahab searching for Moby.
So maybe I'm not the Milan's target market. I'm OK with that, but I'm not sure Mercury should be. They've got a nice product in the Milan that is clean and simple and nice to drive, it just lacks some definition and character. Maybe a different model, like the Ford Fusion, would be more up my alley. With a tagline like "Life in Drive," I'm automatically more attracted to it. Ah, the wonders of clever marketing.
*For more information on the Mercury Milan and its safety features, visit www.cars.com.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS
LATCH Connectors: 2
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair - Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair - Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times