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2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid Review & Test Drive

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The all-new 2010 Mercury Milan hybrid builds on a strong foundation since it is the sibling of the Ford Fusion hybrid, voted ‘2010 Car of the Year’ from Motor Trend Magazine, with the same quality and reliability, but adding sophisticated exterior and interior design cues.  For those consumers looking for a stylish hybrid, the Milan now offers them the most fuel-efficient hybrid sedan in its class.

Chief designer Darrell Behmer and his team had the advantage of working from a vehicle that’s been lauded by consumers and consumer groups.  “Our approach was to build upon the Milan’s strengths-to improve rather than reinvent,” Behmer said.  “From a design standpoint, we wanted to clarify the design, making it cleaner and more modern.”

The changes to the exterior design were focused on the grille, hood, and front and rear fascias.  The chin was pulled forward and the fascia was pulled down to give the new Milan hybrid a wider, sportier look.  Those changes as well as substantial underbody work made for a cleaner, more aerodynamic sedan.  Exterior highlights include the brushed aluminum vertical grille bars, lower air intake with a lower brushed aluminum horizontal bar, cat’s-eye headlamps, lower projector beam foglamps, steeply swept back windshield pillars, aerodynamic power-remote side mirrors, flared fenders with lighted side marker on the front fenders, deeper lower rocker panels, LED wraparound rear lamps, a spoiler attached to the top of the trunk lid with a brushed aluminum horizontal bar at the lower end of the trunk lid, and a blacked out center below the bumper with two side-by-side polished stainless steel exhaust tips.

Inside, the design team created a more contemporary, technical look with metallic new finishes on the instrument panel that carry through on the center console, door trim and steering wheel.  The all-new instrument panel is finished with a soft upper and lower skin and has much less hard plastic than Japanese competitors.  A redesigned tilt/telescoping, leather wrapped steering wheel with form fitting palm swells, a new leather/chrome shifter, and wrapped and padded armrests have been added, increasing Milan’s sportiness and comfort at all key driver touch points.  The seats received a makeover as well.  The seat contour has been revised, with more side support and overall a more comfortable seat with smoother bolsters and more-textural inserts.  The seats also feature contrasting stitching and leather inserts to give the Milan even more attitude, befitting this mid-size sedan.

The new gauge cluster has been designed with day time backlighting, a black lens, and 3-D elements to create a high tech jewel-like appearance, similar to a find watch.  Drivers will be greeted by a new ‘welcome’ sequence that makes the Milan seem as if its coming to life with you turn the ignition on.  Gauges needles sweep back and forth as the lighting and new chimes come on.  The ambient lighting system offers the option of illuminating the front and rear footwells and front cupholders.  The two-tone look on the inside continues as a Milan signature, with satin-aluminum accents around the center stack and door pulls plus you’ll also appreciate the dual map lamps, dual lighted vanity mirrors, power windows/door locks and grab handles above each door that further gives the new Milan hybrid a more European flair.  You also get 2-12-volt power plugs and a 110-volt power outlet.

The Ford hybrid team has developed a powertrain system that combines the best attributes of the gasoline engine and electric battery-driven motors to deliver the optimal experience for the smart consumer in terms of driving performance and fuel economy, and besting the Toyota Camry hybrid by at least 6mpg in the city.

The overall system upgrade allows the Mercury Milan and Ford Fusion hybrids to operate at higher speeds in electric mode.  Both hybrid vehicles can operate up to 47mph in pure electric mode, as long as you are not driving up hill or under hard throttle, which is approximately twice as fast as some other competitors.  Plus, city driving range on a single tank of gas is expected to be more than 700 miles.  I was amazed at how fast on level travel the Milan was able to go.  I just kept pressing and releasing the gas pedal to keep the mpg gauge at 50.

This next-generation hybrid system features a new 2.5 liter c-cylinder engine (155hp/136lbft. of torque) running the proven Atkinson cycle mated to a smooth and quiet running electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission (e-CVT).  It is one of the best I have ever tested; you never feel or hear the transmission in action’ an intake variable cam timing (iVCT), which allows the vehicle to more seamlessly transition from gas to electric mode and vice-versa.  The spark and cam timing are varied according to the engine load to optimize efficiency and emissions.  An enhanced electronic throttle control reduces airflow on shutdowns, reducing fueling needs on restarts.  A wide-band lambda sensor analyzes the air-fuel ratio and adjusts the lean/rich mixture accordingly to keep the system in balance and to minimize emissions.  A new smaller, lighter nickel-metal hydride battery has been optimized to produce 20% more power.  Improved chemistry allows the battery to be run at a higher temperature and it is cooled using cabin air.  An added variable voltage converter boosts the voltage to the traction battery to operate the motor and generator more efficiently.  A new high-efficiency converter provides 14% increased output to accommodate a wider array of vehicle features.  A smarter dual-zone climate control system monitors cabin temperature and only runs the gas engine as needed to heat the cabin; it also includes an electric air conditioning compressor to further minimize engine use and maximize comfort.  The regenerative brake system captures the energy normally lost through friction in braking and stores it.  Nearly 94% energy recovery is achieved by first delivering full regenerative braking followed by friction brakes during city driving.  A simulator brake actuation system dictates brake actuation and delivers improved brake pedal feel compared to the previous generation braking system.  It feels more linear with less noise.

The Milan hybrid also offers drivers a way to be more connected to the hybrid driving experience thanks to Ford’s innovative SmartGauge with EcoGuide, a unique instrument cluster execution that helps coach drivers on how to optimize performance of their hybrid.

SmartGauge with EcoGuide features two, high-resolution, full-color liquid crystal display (LCD) screens on either side of the analog speedometer that can be configured to show different levels of information, including fuel and battery power levels, average and instant mpg.  Growing leaves and vines track and reward the driver’s efficiency, the more leaves and vines, the higher your last trip’s mpg.  EcoGuide uses a multi-layered approach to coach the driver to maximum fuel efficiency.  A tutorial mode built into the display that helps the driver learn about the instrument cluster and the hybrid in a whimsical way that does not overpower.  For instance, drivers can choose one of four data screens to choose the information level displayed during their drives.  They are: Inform-fuel level and battery charge status; Enlighten-adds electric vehicle mode indicator and tachometer; Engage-adds engine output power and battery output power; Empower-adds power to wheels, engine pull-up threshold and accessory power consumption.  All levels can show instant fuel economy, fuel economy history, odometer, engine coolant temperature, what gear the car is in and trip data (trip fuel economy, time-elapsed fuel economy and miles to empty)  The engine coolant temperature indicator turns green when engine conditions are warm enough to allow engine pull-down.  The Milan hybrid is differentiated from its gasoline powered siblings with unique hybrid ‘road and leaf’ badging on both sides and the rear of the vehicle, unique 17X7in. eight-spoke aluminum alloy wheels, eco-friendly seat fabric made from post-industrial 100% recycled materials and a standard 110-volt power outlet.  The innovative Easy Fuel Capless fuel filler system is standard on all Milan models and helps to reduce evaporative emissions that create smog and global warming.  When fueling is completed, and the fuel pump nozzle is removed, the system automatically seals shut.

Engineers also looked at how to make the Milan hybrid more responsive and they made improvements in steering and handling, the turning circle was shortened by one foot and the brake feel was improved.

The fully independent suspension system is precise and unique front short/long arms (SLA), gas-charged shocks and stabilizer bar with a rear setup featuring multi-links, gas-charged shocks, coil springs, twist blade lower control arms and stabilizer bar.  The handling of the new Milan hybrid is as good as any other front-wheel-drive hybrid on the market.

The 2010 Milan team also took a look at how to improve the comfort inside the car, making improvements to interior quietness.  Hood insulators, inner and outer dash absorbers, new carpet, revised ceiling baffles, additional sound deadening in the trunk, new interior material and new headliner material are among the improvement made.  Once inside and at speed with all of the windows closed, there is no detectable sound from the outside, especially with the new front end, aerodynamic side mirrors and rear spoilers to help with front lift noise, wind noise and rear downforce.  Additionally to combat wind noise, improved body and door sealing improved Milan’s already best-in-class standing in wind noise.  It gives Milan drivers the level of quiet luxury they demand.

New technology features this year include Blind Sport Information System (BLISTM) with Cross Traffic Alert, an upgraded SYNC system that features 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Report, Voice-Activated Navigation, Sony AM-FM-CD player Surround Sound audio system with 12-speakers, SIRIUS Travel Link and a Reverse Camera System with side sensors.

I tested the new Milan Hybrid Premier edition and it came with the following standard equipment not mentioned above: leather seating with 8-way power driver seat and 4-way power front passenger seat, halogen autolamp headlamps, ambient lighting, auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote keyless entry, traction control, power moonroof, heated front seats, floor mats, pull-down rear armrest with dual cupholders, front dual cupholders on the center console with a padded armrest and storage, storage slots in each door, and variable intermittent wipers/washers.

Standard safety features include AdvanceTrac with electronic stability control, dual front airbags and side airbags up front, side curtain airbags for all outboard seats, 3-point seat belts with front load limiters/pretensioners, perimeter anti-theft system, S.O.S. post crash alert, tire pressure monitoring system, front/rear crush zones and steel beams in each door.

With a starting price of just $27,500.00 the new 2010 Mercury Milan hybrid is one of the best looking, comfortable and performing hybrids on the market for consumers looking for a 600 mile plus tourer.  My loaded Premier Edition Milan hybrid was priced at $34,230.00 including vehicle prep and delivery.  If you do most of your driving around where you live this is the optimum fuel-saving vehicle as it can travel in electric mode up to 47mph on level roads, amazing!

COPYRIGHT:2010:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

Price: MSRP $28,180 As-Tested $34,230
Type: Midsize Sedan
Where Built: Mexico
EPA Class: Midsize Cars

Dimensions

Exterior
Length: 189 in.
Width: 72.2 in.
Height: 56.9 in.
Wheel Base: 107.4 in.
Curb Weight: 3729 lbs.
Interior
Front Head Room: 38.7 in.
Front Hip Room: 54 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 57.4 in.
Rear Head Room: 37.8 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 56.5 in.
Rear Hip Room: 53.3 in.
Front Leg Room: 42.3 in.
Rear Leg Room: 36.7 in.
Luggage Capacity: 11.8 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 12 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5

Performance Data

Base Number of Cylinders: 4
Base Engine Size: 2.5 liters
Base Engine Type: Inline 4
Horsepower: 191 hp
Drive Type: FWD
Turning Circle: 37.5 ft.

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 17 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 41 mpg / 36 mpg / 39 mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 697 mi. / 612 mi. / 663 mi.

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