Milan offers a comfortable sprint In a Mid-sized Milan


Published: Thursday, January 26, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 1:23 p.m.
The road was dry, the sun was high, the parkway was nearly deserted and the Mercury Milan seemed to be straining to go past the posted 65 mile an hour speed limit.
That should have been a short spurt. Despite the flashy advertising the Milan, after all, is a scaled-down version of Ford's highly promoted Lincoln Zephyr, and that posh, sedate alternative to the Cadillac gets sluggish and whines if the speedometer moves much past 80. And the Zephyr costs $10,000 more than the Milan, its $25,000 sporty cousin.
Under the hood, the two sedans share the same 3.0-liter V-6 engine pumping 210 horsepower, but luxury items and padding make the Zephyr nearly 300 pounds heavier. The weight difference showed on the road. The sluggish acceleration found in the Zephyr was gone, replaced by a responsive transmission that immediately kicked the Milan into higher speeds.
There was just a steady, rapid acceleration that pushed you deeper into the padded seats till the Milan approached its engineered speed limit of 125, giving the distinct impression the sporty, mid-sized sedan could cruise at this rate across the western plains all day long. Perhaps the commercials for the Milan are accurate and Ford's Lincoln Mercury division really has come up with an antidote to the mundane mid-sized pack.
Darryl Hazel, President of the Lincoln Mercury division and one of the highest ranking African American's at Ford, said the Milan is intended to "stand apart from the cookie-cutter sedan crowd."
It is aimed at young professionals, Hazel added, saying "we think they'll enjoy driving the Milan as adults much more than they enjoyed riding in the back seat of Grandma's Grand Marquis as kids."
He's right. The sporty, front-wheel drive Milan is easy to handle, maneuvers like a two-seater sports car, and grips the road tighter and longer than the L.A. Lakers' Kobe Bryant holds the basketball.
Outside, the Milan shares the Zephyr's grill, but then has its own, distinct character. It is lighter and a bit sleeker, giving it a lower profile than its flashier cousin.
Inside, the Milan is the low end of the Lincoln Mercury premium line, but it is not a cheap-looking interior. It features two-toned leather seats that can be heated, but are manually adjusted. The seats in the rear fold down in a 60/40 split, enlarging an already adequate trunk. The leather steering wheel tilts and telescopes, and has fingertip controls for the entertainment system. And the center cup holders are augmented by 20-ounce bottle holders in each of the doors.f-z There is no navigation system - something the Yuppie market may be expecting - but its two-toned dash and console are neatly set off by brushed aluminum chrome designed to add to its sporty feel. The dash features an analog clock and has an AM/FM radio, six-disc, in-dash CD and MP3 player and eight speakers capable of keeping any bass drummer happy.
With Usher in the CD player and an open road ahead, cruising in a Milan is a quick way to pass the miles and the time.
Roger Witherspoon writes a syndicated automotive column from New Jersey. He may be reached at Roger6T6@aol.com.

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