Bottom line: What does the Milan give you that the Ford Fusion doesn't? Nothing.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Very good in all three categories. Solid. The same goes for the Fusion. But the Fusion's styling inside and out bespeaks chutzpah and fun. The Milan's tamer, more conservative treatment coupled with its muted appeal to luxury says: "Me, too, sort of, but not quite . . . you know what I mean?"

Head-turning quotient: It looks like a Fusion, but . . . hmm. Something's missing.

Body style/layout: Both the Milan and Fusion are front-engine, front-wheel-drive, mid-size sedans with traditional notchback trunks.

Engines/transmissions: Two engines and three transmissions are available. The tested Milan Premier V-6 develops 221 horsepower at 6,250 revolutions per minute and 205 foot-pounds of torque at 4,800 rpm. The Premier V-6 gets a standard six-speed automatic transmission. The base Milan gets a 160-hp, 2.3-liter, in-line four-cylinder engine with a standard five-speed manual transmission, or an optional five-speed automatic gearbox.

Capacities: The Milan seats five people. Maximum cargo capacity is 16 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 16 gallons of recommended regular unleaded gasoline.

Mileage: I averaged 26 miles per gallon, mostly in highway driving.

Safety: Head and side air bags, and traction control are optional. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes are standard.

Price: The 2006 Milan Premier has a base price of $22,845, compared with a base price of $21,170 for the technically and structurally identical Ford Fusion SEL V-6. The dealer's base invoice price on the Milan Premier is $20,995. Milan Premier price as tested is $26,290, including $2,795 in options and a $650 destination charge. Milan Premier dealer's price with options and destination is $24,079. Prices from Ford,, and, a Washington Post affiliate.

Purse-strings note: The Ford Fusion is a better buy. Compare with 2006 Chevrolet Malibu, Chrysler Sebring, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Amanti, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry.