We're a big fan of extreme things here at Autoblog, so when it was time to review the interior of our 2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6, we decided to go a little extreme. The evening after the Fusion's pics were taken I headed off to a party with a friend of mine named Fulton. Fulton is a 6'2" security guard who tips the scales at 330 lbs. For the sake of the review Fulton agreed to give up his shotgun duties and be chauffeured to the party in the back seat just to see how much man the Fusion could handle…

Though the Fusion rides on a stretched version of the Mazda6 platform, its sharp styling makes it appear small from the outside. We were a bit concerned that Ford had again made a tiny interior like the late Contour?s, a car that was considered a great drive by the press but too cramped on the inside to be a practical family sedan. As Fulton and I walked towards the car, he shot a furtive glance at me with an expression that said, ?This is not going to be fun.?

2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6

As it turns out the Fusion just wears its sheetmetal like a well-tailored suit. Despite appearing a bit trimmer than its competition, the Fusion?s dimensions are right in their with the rest of them, even beating the others in the area of width at 72.2 inches. The ginormous Nissan Altima tends to top the chart in nearly every dimension category, but the Fusion plays a give and take game with the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and new Hyundai Sonata in the area of interior dimensions.

With Fulton strapped down in the back seat, I was able to turn my attention towards the dash and my own appointments. First off, the Fusion?s seats are excellent for a family sedan with just enough bolstering to catch you from sliding around but not so much that you can?t turn your body around to check a blindspot. Speaking of which, the Fusion?s got some. The B and C pillars are thick and the rear glass is short due to how high the trunk lid rises to meet it. While I don?t think it?s as bad as the view out of a Chrysler 300, it?s still not the greatest when you?re trying to change lanes on the highway.

2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6

The Fusion?s dash is a combination two-tone in which the upper is a soft-touch dark plastic and the bottom is a light beige hard plastic. Bisecting the two is a strip of material that looks lifted from a baby grand. It?s completely black and smooth and we like it better than fake wood or faux carbon fiber.

2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6

The center of the dash is probably where the Fusion?s interior earns most of its strikes. It looks like a hodgepodge of corporate bits and pieces lifted from other vehicles. The stereo, for instance, sits dead center surrounded by the piano surface on all sides. The designers made no attempt to integrate it, but rather seemed to just a cut a square out and drop it in. Many other media outlets have bemoaned the placement of the HVAC controls at the bottom of the center stack. We agree with them and wonder why it couldn?t have gone above the stereo where an analog clock and buttons for trip info, TCS off, and other such rarely pressed buttons reside.

2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6

There are many things inside the Fusion to like, however, one of which is the steering wheel. We?ve liked many of Ford?s steering wheels in the past for their ergonomic design and control integration, and this new corporate wheel follows the same trend. We counted 14 individual buttons on the Fusion?s wheel, which is remarkable considering how flush and unobtrusive they appear. There are controls for the HVAC system, cruise control and the stereo here. We also like the spokes of the wheel because they are relegated mainly to the sides, leaving a smooth rim at the tob and bottom along which your fingers can run with obstruction.  

2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6

There?s also a nice storage compartment at the top of the dash above the center stack. At first I thought its lid was flimsy and that I?d never use it. It kind of looks like a compartment that belongs in the dash of a minivan, not a sophisticated sedan. I began to change my tune when I realized I could hide my phone, iPod and various other valuables in there while I ran in the store. With the car locked, this compartment gives nice cover to items you don?t want laying on the seat, and it?s easier than throwing them in the glove box.

2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6

We?ll get into how the Fusion performs in our final post, but suffice it to say this is a fun car to drive. Fortunately the items in the interior we like all relate directly to the driving experience and not merely just spending time in the car. I could bitch and moan more about the placement of the HVAC controls and that I think analog clocks in cars is a dumb idea (I just like digital more), but my hands can usually be found on the steering wheel trying to deftly control the car?s motion while I carry more speed than I should through the esses in my local mall?s parking lot. Yeah, it?s been that kind of week so far.

Oh, and by the way, Fulton enjoyed his time in the back seat just fine.

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