Mercury Milan Hybrid Review

Note: The Mercury Milan is gone, just like all of Mercury. However, the Ford Fusion Hybrid is virtually identical apart from some cosmetics. Until we get a Fusion Hybrid to review, we'll roll with the Milan.

I've said it before...the real game in hybrids isn't in small cars like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight that are born economy machines...it's in the conversion of larger, more thirsty vehicles and getting great mileage from them.

So far, the best examples have been the Nissan Altima Hybrid , Ford Escape Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid.

Here's a surprise (at least it was to me): The Mercury Milan Hybrid blows those three away.

The EPA mileage estimate (41 city/36 highway) is enough to pole-vault over that trio (as well as the Insight) for second place on the TireKicker Top Ten Fuel Savers (clickable list in the right column of this page, just below the TireKicker Top 20 Cars (So Far).

But EPA estimates...you know...even the new, improved ones...you can't really trust 'em....they're estimates...not Gospel.

For the Milan Hybrid, they're low.

Nothing on that sheet says that I should have been able to do a 40 mile roundtrip in town (one-third freeway, two-thirds surface streets) and get 45 miles per gallon. But I did. Or the Milan Hybrid did, anyway. And I wasn't playing the game...just trying to get a library book across town before the branch closed and I owed a fine. Which means if anything, I was driving a little less than eco-conciously.

Didn't seem to matter.

How do I know how I did on one trip? Well, that's the other cool thing (besides sheer mileage) aoout the Milan Hybrid...its new LCD instrument cluster looks more like something from a high-end laptop than a Dearborn dashboard...and it serves up interesting and useful information...including your mileage from the moment you turn the car on until you shut it down. Trip after trip. Want to know more? Watch this Ford-produced video:

I put 300 miles on the Milan Hybrid in a week's worth of driving. I handed it back to Ford with half a tank of gas and a distance to empty reading of another 300.

$27,500 gets you into a Milan Hybrid. My tester had a package including Moonroof, a 12-speaker Sony audio system, a driver's vision package, the "Moon & Tune" package (moonroof and audio), blind spot detection, a rear-view video camera and rear spoiler. Package price: $3,735, minus a $660 Rapid Spec discount. This one also had a nav system ($1,775).

Leather seating? Standard.

Anyway, with $725 destination and delivery charges, this bottom-lined at $33,075. Ditch the moonroof and nav system and you're under $30K. Buy the Ford Fusion Hybrid (essentially the same car) and the base price is $230 less.

Comparably equipped, the Camry and Altima Hybrids still cost a bit less...but the story of hybrids thus far has largely been about people paying a premium for the highest gas mileage. If you're looking for an excuse to go green and buy American, it's just arrived.