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Although the Mercury Mariner Hybrid has been out for five years, Ford's first hybrid sedans are coming out this year as 2010 models. The Mercury Milan Hybrid and Ford Fusion Hybrid are both gas-electric hybrid versions of midsize sedans that can also be had as pure gas cars with either four- or six-cylinder engines.
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Although its styling is a bit bland, there are some unique elements at the front of the car, for instance, in the manner the headlights sweep back into the hood and the grille protrudes forward.
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The Milan Hybrid offers a comfortable seating position for the driver, and its relatively high greenhouse gives mostly unobstructed views all around. A blind-spot warning option monitors the rear quarters of the vehicle, turning on an amber warning in the side view mirror if it detects another car.
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The hybrid power train is made up of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gas engine and a 106 horsepower electric motor. Both the engine and motor can drive the car's wheels. The combined system horsepower is 191. Fuel economy is rated at 41 mpg city and 36 mpg highway.
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Mercury, as a brand, is designated a step above Ford in refinement, although it is a small step. With its leather seating, we found the cabin of the Milan Hybrid comfortable and roomy.
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The Milan Hybrid isn't designed as a sports car, and wallows during hard cornering. But it does have traction control and an electronic-stability program standard.
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In the last couple of years, Ford has raised its cabin tech game far beyond the competition. The Milan Hybrid benefits from these features, with an optional navigation system and excellent MP3 player and cell phone integration.
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A few buttons mounted between the spokes handle cruise control and audio functions, but the most important activates the voice command system, one of the better we've used. You can also configure the instrument panel with steering wheel buttons.
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There isn't a lot to do with the shifter besides put the car in drive. User control is limited, as this electronic, continuously variable transmission mediates between electric and gas power.
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Accessible with steering-wheel buttons, menu items on the left side of the instrument panel let you configure the car, including what gauges are displayed. The car has four presets for its instrument panel labeled Inform, Enlighten, Engage, and Empower.
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The Inform preset uses the bare minimum of gauges, just showing temperature and battery and fuel level. The leaves on the right side grow when you drive efficiently.
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The Enlighten display adds gauges for total power usage and instant fuel economy. The power usage gauge will show when the car is operating in electric drive mode.
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The Engage display replaces the power usage gauge with a virtual tachometer, showing engine speed. When the tach drops to zero, the car is in electric drive mode.
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Empower shows a power usage gauge and an accessory power gauge, showing how much other car systems are drawing.
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Along with all the gauges available on the instrument panel is this more traditional power animation, showing when the engine and electric motor are turning.
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The navigation system integrates traffic information, and warns you of jams on your route, giving the option of calculating a detour.
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Fuel prices are a function of Sirius Travel Link, accessible on the main LCD. You can tap any entry on this list and get directions to the gas station.
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Sirius Travel Link also brings in weather information, and can alert you to severe weather events in your area.
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Along with excellent MP3 player support, the stereo can store music on its internal hard drive. Bluetooth-streaming music is also supported, as is Sirius satellite radio.
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Sync Bluetooth cell phone integration works very well, making it possible to call people just by saying a name.
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The rear-view camera isn't as advanced as some we've seen, but it is very useful for parking.