FORD HITS A HOME RUN
Ford has produced a winner with its redesigned Fusion sedan. The Fusion stands out in the midsize four-door market that has been dominated by the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord. This car has style, great driving dynamics, fuel-efficient engines and high-tech options.
The 2013 Fusion looks more expensive than it really is. Take away the Ford badging, and the Fusion could be mistaken for a European luxury car. The new hexagon grille is often likened to one in an Aston Martin— not bad for a car with a starting price of $22,495. A steeply raked windshield and a semi-fastback roofline convey a sleekness that is missing in its leading competitors. Sharp creases on the hood and sweeping lines on the flanks add character to the design.
Sit inside the Fusion, and you view a well designed, yet understated dash. The center control panel, in particular, pleases with its simplicity. My lightly equipped test car featured flush push-button controls and four knobs for basic audio and air conditioning tuning. Everything was nicely arranged, and easy to use. Topping it off, the instrument cluster and the center panel were trimmed with attractive brushed silver surrounds.
Although the overall length of the Fusion is not much different than last year’s model, the cabin is considerably more spacious. This is due in large part to five more inches of wheelbase in the 2013 model. Rear passengers benefit the most with lots of legroom. Furthermore, even though the roof slopes a lot, tall people have sufficient headroom in the rear. The trunk is family-sized too at 16 cubic feet.
Ford offers Fusion in three levels of trim, S, SE and Titanium, and with four different four-cylinder engines. The base power plant is a 2.5-liter mill, teamed with a six-speed automatic, and is standard in the S and SE. It generates 175 horsepower and averages 26 mpg. Buyers can opt for a 1.6-liter turbocharged with 178 horses and a rating of 28-29 mpg, or a 2-liter turbo with 240 hp (25-26 mpg) on the S and SE. The Titanium comes only with the 2.0 and the automatic, but can be had with all-wheel drive.
The fourth choice is a hybrid with a 2.0-liter engine combined with an electric motor to generate 150 hp, and deliver up to 47 miles per gallon of gas. Down the road a year or two, Ford promises to bring out a plug-in hybrid as well.
Buyers seeking high-tech options on their car will find them readily available on the Fusion. In addition to features, like a navigation system and a rearview camera, Fusion customers can get blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane departure warning. Furthermore, they can also have features usually found only on more expensive cars, such as adaptive cruise control, frontal collision warning and automated parallel parking.
But the Ford Fusion is more than a collection of high-tech wizardry, this is a four-door with excellent driving dynamics. My test car, and SE with the 1.6-liter turbo and a manual transmission, was surprisingly strong. All the engine torque (184 lb-ft) is available at just 2500 rpm, so the Fusion pulled well on hills, and delivered a pleasing growl when pressed hard. The six-speed manual had a light touch, as did the clutch.
Out on the back roads, the Fusion felt light on its feet, and the steering let the driver know what the wheels were doing. The car always felt poised, and tracked around corners with confidence. The Fusion also delivered a smooth ride, even over rough pavement, and was whisper quiet out on the freeway.
The Fusion has a lot to offer, and it is priced competitively with others in its class. Pricing begins at $22,495 for the S model, and ranges up to $32,995 for the Titanium with all-wheel drive. My SE test car with the Appearance package, which included 18-inch alloy wheels and a rear-deck spoiler, had a suggested retail price of $26,040.
Fuel Efficient Engines
Fine Ride and Handling