2012 Fusion Hybrid New Car Test Drive
The Ford Fusion has established itself as a leader among midsize sedans. The Fusion matches or surpasses its Japanese competitors in various quality surveys, and leads the class in fuel economy. It offers contemporary styling and a first-class driving experience. How times have changed.
The Fusion competes with the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, Hyundai Sonata and several other very good cars, and holds its own with any of them. Substantially redesigned for 2010, the Fusion changes only slightly for 2011.
For 2011, Fusion comes several new features, including rain-sensing wipers, HD Radio and Ford's MyKey system, which allows parents to limit top speed and audio volume when teens are driving the car.
Also new for 2011 are styling tweaks for the Fusion Sport model.
A wide range of models includes a standard four-cylinder engine, two upgrade V6s and the Fusion Hybrid. All the Ford Fusion powerplants are competitive in power output and technological features, and all deliver impressive fuel economy. Even the lower-trim Fusion models are smooth and quiet. The 2011 Fusion Hybrid delivers the highest EPA mileage ratings of any midsize car: 41/36 mpg City/Highway.
All-wheel drive is available for the Fusion, a rarity among midsize sedans.
The Fusion fits a range of budgets. The base car comes reasonably well equipped and with the optional 6-speed automatic transmission just cracks $20,000. Ford's voice-activated Sync system, which easily pairs phones and audio devices with the car, is an inexpensive option on lower-trim models. For $23,000, the four-cylinder Fusion offers six-speaker audio, all the power accessories, Sync and a sport-suspension upgrade. High-trim Fusions offer excellent, high-power Sony Audio, a sumptuous leather interior package, advanced electronic systems like blind-spot warning and one of the easiest-operating navigation systems anywhere.
Nicely enhanced with chrome, the Fusion looks muscular and crisp, with more than a hint of Euro panache.
Fusion comfortably seats five. Every model is roomy and comfortable, with one of the largest trunks in the class.
With the 6-speed manual the Fusion is almost a sports sedan. The 263-horsepower Fusion Sport is truly powerful, quick and excitingly agile.
The Fusion Hybrid's gas engine and electric motor deliver a combined 191 hp, but the literally instantaneous torque makes it feel like more. And you don't have to drive the Hybrid like you're in a funeral cortege to achieve 40-plus city mpg. These are real-world figures. During Los Angeles morning rush, we drove the Fusion Hybrid in heavy traffic from the Sunset Strip 10 miles west along hilly, snaking Sunset Boulevard to the beach, then south to Santa Monica Pier, all the while proceeding at a distinctly non-funereal pace. Without fuss, the Hybrid delivered an impressive 41.5 mpg. In city driving, that kind of mileage takes it 700 miles on a single tank of gas.
Fusion S ($19,270) is powered by a 175-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder, with the manual transmission. It comes with cloth upholstery, AM/FM/CD audio with four speakers, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, speed-sensitive wipers, cruise control, power locks with remote entry, and 16-inch aluminum wheels. For 2011, Ford's MyKey system, which lets parent limit top-speed and audio volume for teen drivers, is standard. The only option for the S is the 6-speed automatic ($875).
Fusion SE ($21,373) adds six-speaker audio, Sirius satellite radio, steering wheel audio controls, fog lamps, six-way power driver seat, a folding rear seat, body-color mirrors and 17-inch steel wheels. It also allows more options, including a 3.0-liter, 240-hp flex-fuel V6 with the automatic ($2,490).
Most option packages are specific to the Fusion trim level, and all models but the base car offer a Rapid Spec or Preferred Package. On the SE ($1,340), it includes a power moonroof, Ford's SYNC voice-activated device pairing system and a auto-dimming rearview mirror with microphone and compass. The Appearance Package ($895) adds a sport-tuned suspension, chrome or monochromatic grille, unique cloth seat and door trim inserts, a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, rear spoiler and 18-inch machined aluminum wheels with V-rated performance tires.
Fusion SEL ($24,805) comes with the four-cylinder and automatic. It upgrades from the SE with leather-trimmed heated seats, power-adjustable passenger seat, dual-zone automatic temperature control, SYNC, auto-dimming rearview, heated outside mirrors, and keyless entry pad on the driver's door. All-wheel drive ($3,460) is optional, including the 3.0-liter V6. For 2011, the SEL is offered with a Luxury Package ($1,295) that adds Ginger or Charcoal Black premium leather upholstery, machined aluminum pedals, illuminated door sills, premium floor mats with logo, polished 17-inch aluminum wheels, and chrome mirror caps and door handles. The SEL Rapid Spec grouping ($2,790) adds a high-wattage Sony sound system with CD changer, 12 speakers and Dolby surround sound processing, Ford's Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), rear view camera, rain sensing wipers, and rear park assist.
Fusion Sport ($25,825) is powered by a 263-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine with the automatic. It includes the sports suspension, 18-inch wheels with performance tires, chrome trim, rear spoiler, and unique side rocker sills. All-wheel drive ($1,850) is available. Rapid Spec for the Sport model ($4,130) includes the moonroof, Sony sound system, dual-zone automatic temperature control, heated front seats, power passenger seat, color-adjustable ambient lighting, universal garage door opener, BLIS, heated exterior mirrors, puddle lamps, rear view camera, rear park assist, rain sensing wipers and keyless entry pad.
Fusion Hybrid ($27,270) comes fitted with a 156-hp version of the four-cylinder engine, integrated with a 40-hp electric motor, continuously variable (CVT) automatic transmission and a regenerative braking system to capture energy and charge its battery pack. Unique hybrid-specific LCD instrumentation and the rear park assist are standard. Rapid Spec for the Hybrid ($5,370) adds the moonroof, Sony audio, a voice-activated navigation system, BLIS, rain sensing wipers and the rear view camera.
Stand-alone options include the navigation system ($1,880), rear park assist ($295), rear spoiler ($295), and an engine-block heater (no charge).
Safety features on all Fusions include multi-stage front impact airbags, front passenger side-impact airbags, head-protection curtains for all outboard occupants and a warning system that sounds the horn, lights the emergency flashers and unlocks the doors in the event of an accident. The Fusion was rated a Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2010, and it received 5-Star crash test ratings for all four crash test categories from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Active safety features include anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), stability control and a tire-pressure monitor. Optional safety features include the blind sport warning system, rearview camera, rear park assist, and all-wheel drive.