I genuinely wonder if, at any time during the development of the Mercury Milan, if everyone on the team just stopped working all at the same time, and looked blankly out into space as the futility of their task suddenly dawned on them. Perhaps they all shed a solitary tear, in unison, and the collective splash of those tears on desks and drawing boards and workbenches brought everyone back to their miserable, meaningless reality: making the Mercury Milan.
The Mercury Milan passes one of the most fundamental Meh Car tests of all: forgettability. I forgot that Mercury once made a badge-engineered Ford Fusion from 2006 to 2012 because why would I remember that? Does anyone remember these things? They’re not that old, so while I’m pretty sure there’s a bunch left roaming our nation’s residential neighborhoods and Costco parking lots, I can’t remember the last time I saw one.
Because there’s no reason for my brain to store that information.
I guess I’m mostly talking about the pre-facelift Milan from 2006-2010, but, really, the facelifted one isn’t all that much better. As befits a truly meh car, there’s nothing actually wrong with the Milan—just as there’s nothing actually right, or, really, anything at all.
The Milan looked...fine, in the sense that it’s not ugly, it’s not terribly attractive, and it looks just different enough from the Fusion that you won’t get them confused.
It had a Mercury-family ‘waterfall’ grille, and different headlights and taillights than the Fusion. It was basically the same as the Fusion otherwise, built on the same Mazda-developed CD3 platform, could be FWD or AWD like a Fusion, had the same engine choices—a 2.3-liter EcoTech four making 160 horsepower ‘til 2010, then a 2.5-liter four making 175 HP.
You could have a 3.0-liter V6 (221 or 240 HP) or even a hybrid, if you cared enough, which I don’t.
How someone would decide they wanted a Mercury Milan over a Fusion is a fascinating mystery, and an understanding of that would make one a wizard-like expert on human behavior.
The Milan is a dramatically, emphatically anonymous car. It’s a safe choice, arrived by a demanding regimen of reading Consumer Reports and lacking a soul or the ability to feel excitement. The Mercury Milan is the automotive equivalent of being stuck next to the most boring guy at the office party, whose name you don’t even remember (Kevin? Keith? Ken?) only to have him get three beers down and grip you by the shirt as he locks eyes with you and whispers “I don’t know who I am? I don’t know who I am!” before turning around and walking into the dark hallway.
The advertising for the Milan was best known because Mercury, realizing there was almost nothing to say about their car, decided to use a sort of spokesperson for the car, actress Jill Wagner. She’s almost as well-remembered as the Milan.
Here’s what those ads were like:
Two observations about this ad: first, that’s a tiny vest, and second, you could replace both the actress and the car with any other actress and car of similar age and absolutely nothing would change.
Want to watch another? Too bad:
Ugh, watching that is the video equivalent of sitting in a real estate office’s waiting room for 45 minutes. It’s an oatmeal-gray wash of nothingness.
Of course, not everyone agrees, like whoever out together this deeply odd supercut of commercials, based on the very, very misguided notion that “Jill Wagner Is To Ford Motor Co. What Steve Jobs Is To Apple”:
That’s creepy. I hope Ms. Wagner has good security at her home.
I’m actually really curious if I’ll get the usual angry emails from meh car owners telling me how wonderful their cars are and how miserable I am. This time, I’m really having trouble imagining a Milan owner so moved and passionate about their car that they’ll send an email.
Saying “Oh come on, it’s fine” at the screen seems a much more appropriate response.
So, remember, if you find yourself feeling nostalgic for Mercury, just try and conjure up an image of the Milan in your mind (it won’t be easy) and you’ll see that, really, they did it to themselves, and it’s probably all for the best.