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Mercury just announced pricing of its midsize 2006 Milan, distancing it from its Ford Fusion sibling by a thousand bucks worth of added exclusivity. Stop snickering, you know Ford is aiming to position the forlorn Mercury (quick, name five current Mercury models) as the gated community to Ford's main street and brother Lincoln's townhouse. Unfortunately, the company is still seen as Ford with one-fifth more pretense — a perception that will take more than standard keyless entry and six-way power driver's seats to dissipate.

The entry-level 2006 Milan, powered by a 160 hp, 2.3-liter Duratec 23 PZEV I-4 with five-speed manual, starts at $18,995. For three grand more, a 221hp (205ft/lbs.), 3.0-liter Duratec 30 V6, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, is available.

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Standard on entry-level Milan models:
Premium audio system with an AM/FM single CD/MP3 player
Analog clock
Overhead console with sunglass holder
Covered flip-up storage bin on top of the dash
Six-way power driver's seat with manual lumbar
16-inch wheels
Air conditioning
Speed control
Tilt and telescoping steering wheel with secondary controls
Remote keyless entry.

Standard on Milan Premier edition:
Premium six-disc CD changer with MP3 and six speakers
Leather seating surfaces
Anti-lock brakes
17-inch machined aluminum wheels

Optional comfort package:
Leather-wrapped steering wheel with secondary audio, speed and climate controls
Automatic electronic climate control
Auto headlamps, fog lamps, puddle lamps, and an auto dimming interior rearview mirror with compass

Related:
Ford Announces Fusion Pricing: Undercuts Rivals [internal]