We've been here before, only last time it was called the Ford Fusion. Or was it the Lincoln
Zephyr MKZ? No matter, this time we're looking at the Mercury Milan. It's Mercury's attempt to stay relevant by attracting new buyers to the brand — buyers who are young and hip with contemporary tastes, yet still manage to neglect all considerations for style when purchasing a car. All kidding aside, the clean lines and even proportion of the Milan make it a good looking car, but only a good looking ordinary car.
Good-but-not-great is a recurring theme in the Milan. It's a recurring theme in American sedans in general, which improve generation after generation but rarely make the final leap to the top of the class, but we digress. Consider the Milan's interior, which was not so much designed as budgeted. The ideas are all there, and it's a comfortable, user-friendly cabin. But apart from the two-tone stitching on the leather seats and a sharp looking instrument cluster, the materials inside the Milan look like a movie set — good from afar but far from good.
On the road, a gentle throttle tip-in and forgiving brake pedal give the impression that the Milan is not a car for anybody who's in a hurry. Push the pedal more, and the 221-hp 3.0-liter V6 pulls away from traffic with only a hint of thrashiness. Fortunately for the Milan, the six-speed automatic is more refined. Unfortunately for the Milan, the rest of the chassis is not. Over rough surfaces the Milan transmits more vibration and road noise than the quasi-luxury appearance would suggest is appropriate. The set-up is surprisingly neutral for a front-wheel-drive car, but the steering and tires don't communicate enough information to boost a driver's confidence at speed.
So what is the Milan supposed to be, a sports sedan or an entry-luxury sedan? Unfortunately, this isn't quite clear, and the compromise is the Milan's biggest fault. If it's not a sports sedan than it can't be faulted for lacking the zoom of its body-donor corporate sibling, the Mazda 6. But the Milan lacks the refinement to justify the loss of sportiness. At $25,495, the Milan is not a bad deal for a dressed-up Fusion, but it's still a dressed-up Fusion. Anybody that is fooled by the blatant badge engineering or just prefers the looks of the Mercury will undoubtedly be happy with the Milan, but buyers that do any serious cross-shopping will probably stay away. [by Mike Austin]