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CarGurus Expert ReviewThe Good
Classy styling, decent four-cylinder mileage, and near-opulent cabin ambiance, as well as the availability of both a Hybrid and an all-wheel-drive trim, are among the positives of the 2011 Mercury Milan lineup.The Bad
A raucous four-cylinder engine, lackadaisical hybrid-drive acceleration, a crowded instrument cluster, and tepid steering feel conspire to dull the 2011 Milan’s image somewhat.
The CarGurus View
No, it’s not perfect, and yes, it will soon be a footnote to history, but the 2011 Mercury Milan represents one of the country’s better efforts at giving the imports a run for their money in the midsize sedan market. This value-laden sedan personifies Mercury’s determination to finish up on a high note.
At a Glance
To the dismay of many, the 2011 Mercury Milan - indeed, the entire Mercury lineup - is destined to go the way of the DeLorean. Though their collective days are numbered, the Milan and Milan Hybrid five-passenger midsize sedans continue to provide solid, semi-luxurious, economical, and stylish transportation to the budget-minded family. Cabin space, seat and ride comfort, and agility have been hallmarks of this high-end auto, while decent if not explosive power and several tech-savvy improvements have invigorated Mercury’s Fusion look-alike after a significant re-design in 2010. Only a few minor add-ons, such as rain-sensing wipers, one-touch power windows, and HD radio have been tacked onto the standard comfort and convenience list, while the well-received MyKey programmable speed and audio control feature is added to the Milan’s standard safety equipment. Additionally, a new Appearance Package, featuring 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, and a rear spoiler, is now available. All this complements a hefty 16.5-cubic-foot trunk (only 11.8 cubic feet in the battery-toting Hybrid) and available all-wheel-drive (AWD) performance, with the added bonus of a well-wrought Hybrid trim available for the more eco-minded.
Again for 2011, the Milan is offered in three trim levels, the base I4, top-shelf Premier, and state-of-the-art Hybrid. The Premier level is further subdivided into the I4 Premier and the V6 Premier AWD. The I4, Premier, and Hybrid each come with standard front-wheel drive (FWD), while AWD is available only for the V6 Premier AWD trim. I4 trims are equipped with a standard inline four-cylinder powerplant, while the V6 Premier AWD is delivered, as its name implies, with a standard V6 engine that’s optional in the Premier. The Milan Hybrid, meanwhile, offers the power of a four-cylinder gasoline engine in tandem with the economy of a 106-hp electric motor for spectacular mileage and a bit less wear and tear on the environment.
Though wheeling and dealing would seem to be a strong possibility when approaching a Mercury dealer these days, before deciding on the 2011 Milan, prospective buyers might want to check out the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda6, and Nissan Altima. Each of these competitors is a strong performer in this hotly contested niche, and each carries a pricetag similar to the Milan's. The Sonata and Altima each offer a hybrid trim, but no competitors offer AWD traction and safety.
Standard power for both the 2011 Milan I4 and I4 Premier trims is a Duratec 2.5-liter variable-valve-timed I4 engine. When combined with the standard six-speed manual transmission in the base I4, or the standard six-speed automatic transmission in the I4 Premier, the four-banger puts out 175 hp at 6,000 rpm and 172 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm. Mileage varies with transmission type, with the I4’s stick-shift getting an estimated 22/29 mpg and the I4 Premier’s automatic getting an estimated 23/33.
The Milan V6 Premier AWD is delivered with a standard 3.0-liter variable-valve-timed, E85-capable Flex Fuel V6 powerplant and six-speed auto-manual transmission. Expect some 240 hp at 6,550 rpm and 223 lb-ft of torque at 4,300 rpm from the V6, with mileage running at an estimated at 18/26. A mechanical, center-mounted limited-slip differential, meantime, ensures power to all four of the V6 Premier AWD’s wheels, all the time.
Deciding on the 2011 Milan Hybrid means a 2.5-liter Atkinson hybrid I4 gasoline engine in combination with a 106-hp permanent magnet electric motor and electronic continuously variable transmission (e-CVT). Considered among the most efficient hybrid systems available, the Milan Hybrid trim will put out a combined 191 hp and 136 lb-ft of torque to the tune of a wallet-friendly 41/36 with a combination of its ability to run on electric power alone, variable valve timing, auto engine stop/start, and deceleration fuel cutoff. Meanwhile, regenerative braking along with the gas-powered I4 will charge up the nickel-metal hydride battery to the extent that the Hybrid can cook along at 47 mph on electric power alone, which Mercury claims is fastest in its class.
Non-hybrid power is claimed by most reviewers as at least adequate with the four-banger, with the V6 adding exponentially more oomph, both from a start and in merging and passing. Neither, however, is considered up to the standards of much of the competition, according to a number of reviews. The Milan Hybrid is described by most reviewers as a tad lazy in initial acceleration, but once under way, it picks up speed nicely and has no problem keeping up with highway traffic. Virtually all reviews note the raucousness of the I4 under heavy acceleration, though it calms down considerably at cruising speed, while the Hybrid system is described as quite loud while accelerating by a number of reviewers, with a groan that fades considerably, but never seems to go away completely, even when up to cruising speed.
Ride & Handling
Opinion remains fairly high among reviewers regarding the 2011 Milan’s ride and handling capabilities. This snazzy sedan comes with 16-inch alloy wheels and all-season radials on the base I4 trim and 17-inch alloy wheels on the Premier and Hybrid trims, with all-season radials on the former and low-rolling-resistance tires on the latter. The rubber on the road complements a short and long arm four-wheel independent suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars, and multi-link rear suspension.
The Milan’s ride is described by several reviewers as amazingly engaging, though hardly at the level of a dedicated sports sedan. Ride comfort is a strong suit in the non-hybrid trims, while the Hybrid trim, with its added heft, is even more effective in tamping down rough roads. Reviews do allow that passengers in the Hybrid will, however, experience some noticeable slam and clamor over larger bumps and imperfections. Additionally, more than a few reviewers note that the Hybrid’s low-rolling-resistance tires emit a disquieting thrum over coarse surfaces.
Reviewers are generally unimpressed with the Milan’s electric power steering, noting that it feels a bit too friendly, allowing little or no steering feedback. In fairness, however, this particular system is becoming more popular throughout the segment, and the same could be said for almost all of the Milan’s competition. Meanwhile, the Milan is noted by virtually all reviewers as maintaining a stately presense through fast cornering and providing plenty of road grip, especially in its V6 Premier AWD manifestation.
Brakes for the non-hybrid Milan trims are described as better than adequate. On the other hand, the Hybrid trim, with its regenerative braking system, is noted to be a bit erratic when stopping and will take some getting used to.
Cabin & Comfort
Representing itself as a high-end family sedan, the 2011 Milan comes handsomely endowed with standard comfort and convenience features. The I4 trim, for instance, includes premium cloth upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, split-folding rear seatbacks, digital keypad power door locks, new-for-2011 one-touch power windows, heated, power-adjustable exterior mirrors, telescoping tilt-wheel steering with steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, front and overhead consoles, air conditioning, cabin air filtration, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, simulated alloy dash trim, MP3-capable single-CD player with six speakers, and Sirius satellite radio among its generous standard amenities.
As befits its upper-echelon status, the Premier trim level adds leather-trimmed upholstery, four-way power-adjustable passenger seat, power driver’s side lumbar support, multi-level heated front seats, universal remote garage door opener, SYNC hands-free audio and directions technology with Bluetooth hands-free communications, dual-zone climate control, electrochromatic rear-view mirror, and a USB connection to the list of standard goodies. For its part, the Hybrid dispenses with the leather-trimmed upholstery, but does include a 6-CD changer and the traditional SmartGauge cluster, with the handy EcoGuide system providing helpful hints for getting the most in fuel economy and eco-friendliness from the hybrid system.
Options for the 2011 Milan I4 are well represented by a power sunroof and upgraded wheels, as well as the availability of many standard features, including SYNC, that are found in the Premier trims. Those same Premier trims, as well as the Milan Hybrid, additionally offer an optional power moonroof, voice-activated DVD navigation, rear-view camera system, and a 390-watt, 12-speaker premium audio system by Sony. The Premier trim level is also available with the popular Appearance Package, including, among other things, luxury leather upholstery with Milan logos, 18-inch aluminum wheels, unique center-stack appliqué, and a sport-tuned suspension.
Despite a few, meaning a very few, off-putting hard plastics, the Milan’s roomy, upscale, and comfortable cabin is a solid hit with nearly all professional reviewers. Many are unimpressed, however, with the overabundance of look-alike buttons in the center stack, while one or two mention that the Hybrid’s SmartGauge system seems more an adornment than a useful driving tool. The available DVD navigation system is described as audio-friendly, though the navigation portion seems a bit too complicated for many to grasp immediately. Finally, opinion is divided regarding the elimination of a folding front passenger seatback in the 2011 Milan, with some reviewers bemoaning this lessening of useful cargo capability and others who found it to be a mere gimmick. Also for 2011, the Hybrid remains the only trim equipped with a 6-CD changer.
As the quintessential family sedan, the 2011 Milan doesn’t skimp on safety. Starting with such basics as four-wheel ABS and electronic brakeforce distribution, as well as traction and stability control, the Milan lineup also features dual front side-mounted airbags and front and rear head airbags. Further standard safety equipment for all trims includes the new-for-2011 MyKey programmable speed governor and audio volume control, remote anti-theft alarm, and a post-collision safety system, while the Premier and Hybrid trim levels are equipped with standard SYNC airbag deployment and vehicle collision notifications, as well as front fog/driving lights. The SYNC notification system is optional for the I4 trim, while the Premier and Hybrid levels offer the available blind-spot information system (BLIS). Additionally, rear parking assist sensors are optional for all trims.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2011 Milan its Top Safety Pick designation for 2010 and 2011, backing that distinction up with its highest rating of Good across the test spectrum. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), meanwhile, gives the 2010 Milan its highest five-star rating for front and front-side impact protection, as well as for rollover protection in the AWD trim level. Rear-side protection and rollover protection in FWD versions each receive its second-highest four-star rating.
What Owners Think
The lack of hood struts seems among the top gripes attributed to owners of the 2011 Milan, with many wondering why a chintzy prop is all they’re left with in a supposedly high-end sedan. Fuel economy is a bone of some contention among owners of non-hybrid Milan trims, with the four-banger generally faring better in that regard than the seemingly gluttonous V6, though the I4 is generally conceded by a few owners to need a tad more oomph. Owners of the Milan base I4 trim bemoan the unavailability of a universal garage door opener, while owners across the board are concerned about the tall rear headrests that impair rearward visibility. Finally, poor dashboard lighting bedevils a number of Milan owners.
On a positive note, classy styling, plush ride comfort, decent, if not fireworks-generating agility, and safety top the list of owner kudos for the 2011 Milan. The plethora of standard creature comforts, peppy V6 performance, and tolerably large trunk in the non-hybrid trims also come in for their fair share of praise. Additionally, the Hybrid’s mileage figures and green-leaning stance have owners feeling little regret over paying its premium sticker price. Altogether, owners consider the Milan a value-laden purchase and bemoan its scheduled demise. But there’s still the Fusion.
by Eric Tallberg
Talk about the 2011 Mercury Milan
Looking for a Used Milan in your area?CarGurus has 2,368 nationwide Milan listings starting at $4,495.