Let's take a break from all the SEMA coverage to get back to the real world for a bit. We were lucky enough to snag a 2006 Ford Fusion SEL for the Autoblog Garage earlier than we expected thanks to the good people at Ford, which is nice since we just reviewed one of its peers, the 2006 Hyundai Sonata. While these two vehicles have polar opposite personalities, they both compete for buyers in the same segment and they're looking to lure people away from the Japanese imports, specifically the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima. Does the Fusion have enough firepower to make a dent in the sales of those three sedans? Our SEL model is armed with nearly every available option, so let's see if it's ready for battle. The 2006 Fusion SEL V6 comes with Ford?s 3.0L Duratec V6 engine that produces 221 hp and 205 lb-ft. of torque. That power is routed through Ford?s new six-speed automatic, which gives the Fusion one more gear than its competitors, all of whom employ five-speed autos. The MSRP for the Fusion SEL V6 is $21,710, which, believe it or not, is less than every other model, even that king of value, the Hyundai Sonata. For the sake of comparison we?ve chosen to line these sedans up in their Sunday best, meaning each one in the above-linked Edmunds comparison is the vehicle?s range-topping model with the largest engine available. The only exceptions are the Nissan Altima, which was chosen as an SL model rather than SE-R due to the latter?s obvious performance-oriented character. We also chose the Camry XLE with a 3.0L V6 rather than the model with the more powerful 3.3L V6. We did this to include a vehicle with an engine that matches the Ford?s displacement and give the Camry a little price break advantage. We?ll see if it helped the Toyota at all later. First impressions are everything in the automotive world and the Fusion is a downright charming automobile. The sheetmetal looks tailored from every angle as if the body were custom fitted by Armani. As I walked around the Fusion I noticed details that proved to me the car wasn?t completely designed by focus groups. The headlights and the taillights are the most obvious examples, as they?re so unique to the Fusion that they instantly become an identifying mark. I was surprised, however, when I showed off the Fusion to some of my buddies who were instantly put off by the car?s bold front end. ?I like the rear and the profile,? one said, ? but that front is terrible. Too much chrome.? Then came the charge that it …
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|MPG||23 City / 31 Hwy|
|Transmission||5-spd man w/OD|
|Power||160 @ 6250 rpm|
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