Ford announced today that its Fusion mid-size sedan equipped with all-wheel drive will have a base MSRP of $23,430 when it goes on sale at dealers this week. The upper level SEL model will base for $24,525. That base price comes in below its stable mate, the Mercury Milan AWD, which begins at $24,315. Ford is also touting that the Fusion AWD costs less than the Toyota Camry LE V6 ($23,960) and Honda Accord SE V6 ($23,945), essentially making the case that customers can get a Fusion with all-wheel drive for free at the same price as front-wheel driven competitors. While we won't dispute Ford on the facts, there's also the fact that the Camry's 3.5-liter V6 produces 268 horsepower and the Accord's 3.0-liter V6 produces 244 horsepower, compared with the Fusion's 3.0-liter V6 that produces only 221 horsepower. Couple the Fusion's less powerful engine with more weight and drivetrain components to turn, and we expect the Fusion AWD's performance will be near the back of the pack compared to its FWD competitors. It is still the case that this is a great price for an all-wheel drive mid-size sedan, especially after comparing the Fusion AWD's price to, say, a Subaru Legacy. While you can score a Legacy with AWD starting at $20,795 sans delivery charges, that model is powered by a significantly weaker 175-hp, 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder. If you want comparable power in the Legacy, you'll have to step up to the 2.5 GT Limited model that adds a turbo to produce 243 hp but starts at $28,295. So it seems like Ford has deftly filled a vacant niche for an inexpensive, V6-powered AWD sedan that, along with the Fusion's impecable quality to date, should translate into even more Fusion sales for the Blue Oval.

Ford's press release can be found after the jump.

[Source: Ford]


PRESS RELEASE:

2007 Fusion AWD starting at $23,430

The first Fusion all-wheel drive (AWD) models arrive at dealers this week as the most affordable, V-6 powered AWD sedans on the market. Fusion SE AWD models start at $23,430, including destination and delivery, while Fusion SEL AWD models start at $24,525.


By comparison, the Toyota Camry LE V-6 starts at $23,960 including destination, and the Honda Accord SE V-6 starts at $23,945 with destination. However, the Accord and Camry are not available with AWD, at any price.


"For the same money as an Accord or Camry, we're offering a Fusion with all-wheel-drive for free," says Giombetti. "The addition of all-wheel drive will be a huge advantage for Fusion, and shows that Ford is intent on leading – not following – this segment."


Ford expects sales of vehicles equipped with AWD to double from 25 percent of the total U.S. market in 2003 to 50 percent by 2012. That increase will be largely driven by consumers who want to retain the confidence of four-wheel traction as they migrate from their current SUVs and trucks into new sedans and crossover vehicles.