Since 1939 Ford’s Mercury brand has filled the premium car gap between the populace blue oval brand and the luxury of a Lincoln. But in recent years most Mercurys were simply badge-engineered Fords. But with this 2006 Milan mid-size sedan Mercury is attempting to reestablish a separate upscale identity. Well, the Milan name sounds promising. Let’s see if the car is, too.

The 2006 Mercury Milan is more than just a new premium front drive sedan. It’s part of a Mercury renaissance; six new vehicles in just four years, all aimed at injecting some fresh design into this once stagnant brand, and bringing much younger customers into Mercury showrooms.

Fresh is a good description of Milan’s styling. It’s clean, sophisticated, with an athletic stance. Moreover, it doesn’t look like its mechanical kin. Milan shares the same solid CD3 chassis architecture as the Ford Fusion, Lincoln Zephyr, and Mazda 6.

Wheels are pushed to the corners with a long 107.4-inch wheelbase, yet length remains a tidy 191.4 inches. 16- and 17-inch cast wheels also help the Milan project a tight, European stance. Both Base and Premier trim are fronted by a signature Mercury waterfall grille, and light clusters that flare into the hood, making it clear that this modern four-door is a part of the Mercury brand. At the rear, unique, complex LED taillights cross into the short, muscular deck lid, which conceals a surprisingly large, flat, and wide 15.8 cubic-foot trunk.

Inside, the look is also smart, contemporary, and uniquely outfitted with satin-aluminum trim, and real Mahogany as an option. Premier trim also boasts standard leather upholstery. The power driver’s seat gives both fine comfort and support. Gauges are luxury car basic, but their close grouped style again displays a nice richness. The standard Premier audio system is an MP3-capable 6-disc in-dash CD changer, while the optional Comfort Package includes automatic climate controls.

The Milan’s roomy rear seat is a well-padded bench, with a 60/40 split seat back for cargo versatility. When you release the seats, they fold on their own. A nice feature we liked on the Fusion and Zephyr, too. And like its other derivatives, Milan has a safety package that can include front side-impact and two-row curtain airbags.

Powertains are also shared. The Milan starts with Mazda’s 2.3-liter twin-cam 4-cylinder with 160-horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to either a 5-speed manual, the first manual transmission in a Mercury sedan in many years, or a 5-speed automatic.

Our Premier grade test car upgrades to Ford’s 3.0-liter dual-cam V6. 4-valve heads, intake variable cam timing, and a low-back-pressure exhaust, contribute to fine ratings of 221 horsepower and 205 pound-feet of torque. That front drive power pumps through a class-best 6-speed automatic with extra low first and twin overdrive gears.

Within a year Mercury will add all-wheel-drive to the Milan, and in 2008 a gasoline-electric hybrid will appear. But even now EPA fuel economy estimates are quite acceptable for the Milan V6 at 21 city/29 highway. Our mixed driving loop of 25 miles-per-gallon was just as expected. So was performance. Our Milan will hit 60 in 7.0 seconds, and cover the quarter mile in 15.4 seconds at 93 miles-per-hour.  The V6 has plenty of grunt, pulling hard from idle to mid-range. It revs quickly, but with a fair bit of mechanical noise. The 6-speed automatic is sharp and positive.

Handling hardware consists of a short/long arm front and multi-link rear suspension. But tuning felt different than Fusion, a little softer. Turn in is quick, and steering weight is good, although there is never enough feel for us. While a very safe car with good grip, if you drive through the front push you can throttle steer the rear end quite nicely. Milan is easily the most sporting sedan from Mercury in recent memory. The up side of this softer setup is a very quiet and compliant street ride, fitting nicely between Fusion and Zephyr.

Braking is by 4-wheel discs with our car’s optional ABS, which produced longish stops of 135 feet. Nothing dramatic here, but we did have to apply a few more steering corrections than in either Fusion or Zephyr. Mercury has traditionally favored comfort over performance, but we think Ford should tighten up Milan’s overall feel so it completely lives up to its Euro-trendy look.

And at first look, as well as second, the Milan also appears to be something of a bargain; $18,995 for starters. The V6 Milan begins at $21,995. A 4-cylinder Premier stickers at $20,890. While the top line Premiere V6 starts at $23,495.

While the 2006 Mercury Milan uses a lot of shared parts, it escapes the corporate design team with a flavor and character all its own. And it is quite a looker. Milan signals a new, and very much improved, Mercury brand, and we hope out of the shadow of the blue oval for good.



  • Engine: 3.0-Liter Dual-cam V6
  • Horsepower: 221
  • Torque: 205 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 7.0 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.4 Seconds @ 93 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 135 Feet
  • EPA: 21 City/29 Highway MPG
  • Mixed Loop: 25 MPG