Milan. It’s a name that conjures up thoughts of rich history, elegance, romance, and yes, malnourished runway models struggling to remain upright and, well, walk, as they show off the fashion world’s premier designs. Yet, unlike the liquid lunches of these skeletal beauties, there’s a lot that goes into building brands like Versace, Gucci, and Prada – it’s not as easy as going to Malaysia and having a kid in a sweat shop stitch a fancy label on a GAP shirt. However, there are “Gucce” and “Proda” makers out there looking to give buyers upper-crust living at Wal-Mart prices.
Such is the case with the 2006 Mercury Milan, an attractive yet unassuming sedan that features above-average interior materials, decent optional leather, a comfortable cabin, and a competent powertrain. Problem is, this ride is little more than a gussied-up Ford Fusion, a vehicle offered with comparable amenities and a lower sticker price. It’s a Thomas Kincaid selling in a gallery featuring much more desirable works from Raphael and Michelangelo. In car speak, that means companies like Honda and Toyota are selling better cars, though the Mercury does have its merits.
Power for the front-wheel-drive 2006 Mercury Milan comes from a 2.3-liter, dual overhead cam, 16-valve four-cylinder engine generating 160 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 156 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,250 rpm mated to a five-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic transmission. However, for more performance, shoppers can opt for the 3.0-liter, dual overhead cam, 24-valve V6 pushing 221 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 205 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm. A six-speed automatic is standard with the six-cylinder engine. Fuel economy for the smaller motor ranges between 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway with the stick shift and 24 mpg/32 mpg with the automatic; EPA estimates for the V6 are 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. All versions use vented front and solid rear disc brakes to stop, ride on a short- and long-arm front and multi-link rear suspension, and track with a rack-and-pinion steering system.
What’s featured inside the 2006 Mercury Milan depends on the model chosen. The base model sells for $18,995, including a $650 destination charge, and includes air conditioning, a CD and MP3 player, power door locks and windows, 16-inch steel wheels rolling on 205/60 tires, heated mirrors, a rear 60/40 split bench seat, a power driver’s seat, cruise control, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, steering wheel controls, and a trip computer. Move up to the $21,995 Premier for standard 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 225/50 rubber, a six-disc CD changer, leather seats, antilock brakes, and electronic brake force distribution. Entry-level Milan V6 models carry a sticker price of $20,890 and feature the same equipment as the base version, adding the 221-horsepower engine, the six-speed automatic transmission, and 16-inch alloy wheels. For $23,495, the Premier V6 mirrors the Premier four-cylinder except for the powertrain. Options include a five-speed automatic transmission for four-cylinder models, upgraded wheel and radio packages, antilock brakes for base models, and traction control on V6 models. Milan Premiers can also be outfitted with heated front seats, a Comfort and Security Package which includes items like automatic climate control and puddle lamps on the mirrors, and a Safety Package that adds front side and side-curtain airbags.
Our staff spent a week during the mild southern California winter running errands, commuting along congested highways, and playing Bury the Tachometer Needle on twisty back roads in a 2006 Mercury Milan Premier V6 decked out with the optional Comfort and Safety packages, heated seats, traction control, and an upgraded Audiophile sound system. With the $650 destination charge included, our tester had a sticker price of $25,495.