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2008 Mercury Milan – Boring but Good

Ah yes, the Mercury Milan, the upscale sister ship to the Ford Fusion. Aimed at younger buyers who want something a little more sophisticated than the Dodge Avenger or Mitsubishi Galant. Mercury aims the Milan at the Nissan Altima, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry buyer. We definitely wanted to take a closer look.

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To be honest it’s very rare for a 4-door mid-size car from Mercury to really knock my socks off. In terms of sex appeal I typically think Mercury ranks right up there with… well, Buick (that’s right, there isn’t any sex appeal – alright the new Buick Enclave has a little). With that said, I must admit the Milan is a great mid-size car. It really does have a few things going for it – style, comfort, and value. It was one of those cars I didn’t want to like but ended up enjoying. Just promise me you won’t quote me.
The Milan we received as an evaluation vehicle did have all the bells and whistles. It was the V6 Premier AWD, very nicely equipped at $28,915 (which according to our data is about the median price of a new vehicle in 2008). Our particular Milan was equipped with the 3.0L V6, 6-speed automatic, and all-wheel-drive. The window sticker boasted EPA fuel economy at 17 city and 25 hwy, with our particular vehicle averaging 19.9mpg (both city and highway), which we thought was decent but not spectacular for a vehicle with a V6 and AWD. Maybe a front-wheel-drive version wouldn’t zap our fuel economy.

The Milan had adequate power. No, it’s NOT fast, but it is pleasant to drive and you’re not going to have trouble when entering the freeway on-ramp. It would have been nice to have driven the FWD version to determine how much power was being zapped by the AWD systems weight and transfer of power to all four wheels. We suspect that’s why the engine sounded as if it was working harder under acceleration than it really needed to.
The Driving Experience:
Driving dynamics were good. The Milan felt tighter than I had anticipated both through corners and over rough road. I must say the ride and handling of the Milan was particularly good. It definitely stood out as being a solid platform. It felt planted and secure – but at the same time comfortable. Although, one caveat to the ‘great driving dynamics’ of the Milan would have to be it’s all-wheel-drive system – it was not the best system we’ve employed. It was probably average (For above average see Audi A4 Quattro which is about $10K more than a Milan V6 AWD).

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In the interior the front seats were rather sporty and pleasant – they felt firm but comfortable. The contrast stitching in the interior upholstery was done right and added a nice touch of class to the overall interior ambiance. I could tell Mercury went the extra mile with quality build materials for the dash, interior door panels, etc. There was even flocking material in the small storage spaces and the center console. Build materials were not the cheap, hard, shinny plastic we’ve seen in other vehicles in this price range. The dash and other interior pieces had some ‘give’ to them and driver ‘touch points’ were soft to the touch.
The Good:
Other plus factors that stood out were the ample legroom for rear passengers and ample space in the trunk for luggage and groceries. A touch of color in the cup holders and foot wells could be adjusted using a simple push button in the center console. By depressing the button the driver or passenger could choose between a myriad of colors. The only unfortunate issue was the instrument cluster remained illuminated Ford ‘green’. I thought Mercury should have gone one step further. I think the Milan’s instrument illumination hue should change with the foot well and cup holder color choice. What happened?
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The Bad:
We had a few complaints from rear passengers regarding the rear seat belt shoulder straps making their way across occupants at neck level (the rear passengers were were 5’4” and 5’8”). Like many vehicles in this segment, the rear seat belts are not adjustable and this made them uncomfortable. Fortunately, I was able to quiet them down after their first few complaints by testing out the brakes… I must say, the brakes worked pretty well and the complaining stopped… almost immediately.
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The Trunk:
The other issue that came up was the lack of tie downs in the trunk and/or lack of compartments for storage. Also, anyone closing the trunk kept leaving fingerprints all over the rear deck-lid because there was not a natural closing position or handle to use.
Overall, I think the Mercury Milan is a little on the boring side but a good product for someone who wants a mid-size car between $20-30K that delivers comfort and value with a touch of class.

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