PROS Powerful engine, Ample room for four adults, Nice ride and handling balance
CONS Headroom can be tight for those more than six-foot tall, Slightly buzzy engine
Midsize sedans are the cornerstone of nearly every mainstream automaker's fleet. This segment is home to some of the biggest names in the industry. Cars like the Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry all ply the midsize waters. That pits Ford's entry, the Fusion, against some heady company and leaves the relatively new nameplate navigating some fairly inhospitable waters.
Ford launched Fusion in late 2005 as a '06 model. It was intended to replace both the smaller Ford Contour and larger Ford Taurus. Fusion shares chassis and engines with the similar Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ. It comes only as a four-door sedan and seat five on twin front buckets and a three-place rear bench seat.
For 2010, Ford restyles Fusion, giving it a freshened interior and exterior, additional safety features, more powerful engines, and a hybrid variant. Returning from '09 are S, SE, and SEL trim levels. New for 2010 are the Fusion Sport and Fusion Hybrid. S, SE, and SEL come standard with a 2.5-liter V6 that makes 175 horsepower--15 more than last year's four. Optional on SE and SEL is a 3.0-liter V6 that gets a 19 horsepower boost to 240. Standard on Fusion Sport is a 263-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. A six-speed manual is optional with the four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic is optional. All V6 engines come with the six-speed automatic.
The new Fusion Hybrid utilizes a 2.5-liter four and an electric motor to generate 191 horsepower. A unique continuously variable transmission allows Fusion Hybrid to run on electric power, gas power, or a combination of the two. Like other hybrids, there's no need for plug-in charging as the battery is charged when cruising and coasting.
Front-wheel drive is standard on all models. All-wheel drive is optional on Sport and SEL when equipped with the V6 engine. Standard safety features include antilock four-wheel disc brakes, antiskid system, post-crash alert, tire-pressure monitor, emergency inside trunk release, and dual-front, front-side, and curtain-side airbags. Hybrid models get a rear-obstacle detection system. Newly optional for 2010 are blind-spot alert, cross-traffic alert, and a rear-view camera.
The S lists for $19,620 and includes air conditioning, tilt-telescope steering wheel, cruise control, center console, split-folding rear seat, power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player with digital-media player connection, trip computer, variable-intermittent wipers, rear defogger, theft-deterrent system, 205/60VR16 tires, and alloy wheels.
The $20,900 SE adds to the S six-way power driver seat with lumbar adjustment, fold-flat passenger seat, satellite radio, steering wheel radio controls, illuminated visor mirrors, floormats, fog lights, and 225/50VR17 tires.
2010 Ford Fusion Sport AWD
Base Price: $28,400
As-Tested Price: $33,170
Built in Mexico.
Electronics and Convenience Group
Blind Sport Detection
Heated Front Seats
Ambient Lighting Heated Power Mirrors
Moon & Toon Package
Engine: DOHC 3.5-liter V6
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive Wheels: all-wheel drive
The SEL starts at $24,330 and adds to the SE six-speed automatic transmission, dual-zone automatic climate controls, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather upholstery, heated front seats, eight-way power driver seat, six-way power passenger seat, heated power mirrors, keypad entry, Bluetooth cell-phone connection, voice recognition, iPod adapter, automatic day/night rearview mirror, compass, and automatic headlights.
The Sport has a starting price of $26,180 and adds to the SE six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather upholstery, eight-way power driver seat, Bluetooth cell-phone connection, voice recognition, iPod adapter, automatic day/night rearview mirror, compass, rear spoiler, sport suspension, and 255/45VR18 tires.
Hybrid models list for $27,625 and add to the SE dual-zone automatic climate controls, leather-wrapped steering wheel, eight -way power driver seat, six-way power passenger seat, keypad entry, AM/FM radio with in-dash six-disc CD/MP3 changer, Bluetooth cell-phone connection, voice recognition, iPod adapter, automatic day/night rearview mirror, compass, 110-volt power outlet, and automatic headlights.
Options include sunroof, leather upholstery, remote engine start, rear spoiler, and navigation system with voice recognition and real-time traffic information. All models have a destination charge of $725 and are assembled in Mexico.
Get Up and Go By offering four different powertrain options, Ford gets a leg up on the competition. Most competitors offer four-cylinder and V6 engines. To that combo, Ford adds an extra-powerful V6 and a hybrid drivetrain that gets best in class fuel economy. Thanks to this, most buyers will be able to find the Fusion drivetrain that perfectly meets their driving needs.
The four-cylinder is perfectly fine for most driving needs and it's very economical. No it isn't the smoothest at idle and grows a trifle coarse in hard acceleration, but overall it's a great everyday engine.
Stepping up to the 3.0-liter V6 offers a big improvement in refinement, especially at idle and in passing situations, though the power jump isn't as big as the numbers indicate. Off-the-line acceleration is slightly better and passing power, especially when loaded, is improved over the four.
The 3.5-liter V6 provides more than adequate punch. Foot-to-the-floor, the Fusion Sport will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 7.5 seconds. That's competitive with the most-powerful V6s in the class and more than quick enough for most drivers. The V6 boasts impressive mid-range and high-speed passing power as well. Sadly, the V6 isn't as smooth as it could be.
You don't have to do anything special when driving the Fusion Hybrid. Power is adequate for most needs and the unique drivetrain reacts quickly to provide a good balance of power and economy. If you want to get the best economy, you have to drive with a light throttle foot and employ some "hypermiling" techniques like maintaining even throttle pressure, coasting up to red lights and stop signs, closing the windows at high speeds, and minimize the use of heater or air conditioning.
All transmission perform admirably. The manual has a sloppy feel compared to similar units in Honda and Nissan competitors, but is more than serviceable. The six-speed automatic occasionally hiccups when shifting from first to second in slow speed driving but is otherwise smooth. The CVT in the hybrid does an excellent job of quickly changing ratios to best deliver power.
As I've said before, all-wheel drive isn't a safety feature, it's a security feature, offering drivers peace of mind. Yes, it allows better acceleration on rain- and snow-covered roads, but it won't help you turn or stop any better. What's more important is that your vehicle is equipped with a good set of all-season tires. So equipped, just about any front-driver will have no problem conquering a Chicago winter.
EPA numbers for the Fusion Sport are 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway. Both numbers are on par with AWD class competitors. That said, the Fusion Sport runs fine on regular-grade gas and some competitors require more-expensive premium-grade. In addition the Fusion Sport is quite frugal in around-town driving, yielding more than 22 mpg in my daily commute. In straight city driving, I'd expect most people to average around 19-20 mpg. Keep in mind that these numbers are for a vehicle with all-wheel drive as well and the front-drive version should be slightly more frugal.
On the Road The Fusion Sport has a sporty, European-flavored ride. Undue body motions are kept in check and there's adequate compliance over large bumps. Overall, the ride closely mimics the controlled comfort offered by cars like the Chevrolet Malibu and Nissan Altima rather than the soft float found on Toyota Camry.
The firm ride translates into pleasant and predictable front-drive handling characteristics. There's little body lean in fast turns and decent grip from the tires when taking freeway on ramps. If pushed hard, the Fusion Sport's front tires give up grip first and the car will understeer like most front-drive sedans. All-wheel drive models have the same handling tendencies.
The steering feels very natural, is nicely weighted at all speeds, and has subtle control in highway cruising. Brakes have ample stopping power and the pedal is easy to modulate for smooth and drama-free stops.
One drawback is an extremely wide turning circle. This is most frustrating when pulling in and out of parking spaces and navigating around tight-quarters parking garages. All in all, the Fusion offers sporty--albeit safe and predictable--handling, good ride comfort, and a solid feel on the road.
NHTSA Crash-Test Results, 2010 Ford Fusion
|Front Impact, Driver ||5 stars|
|Front Impact, Passenger ||5 stars|
|Side Impact, Driver ||5 stars|
|Side Impact, Rear Passenger ||4 stars|
|Rollover Resistance ||4 stars|
Fusion is surprisingly quiet, though not as quite as the class-leading Camry or Malibu. There's little wind noise, even at high speeds, and road and tire noise are kept well in check and on par with competitors.
Behind the Wheel Inside, Fusion's new interior is greatly improved and is class competitive in materials and assembly quality. One note, Fusion Sport gets blue-tinted interior accents and seat inserts that might not be to everyone's liking. Gauges are large and easy to read and controls are clearly marked, logically placed, and within easy reach.
Fusion also offers the SNYC system. That's a huge plus in my book when compared to similar systems in competitors. SYNC is simple to program and use and really helps reduce driver distraction when talking on the phone or shuffling through songs on the iPod.
Surprisingly comfortable and supportive front bucket seats offer ample leg room for large adults. Head room is just average, perhaps a bit tight if you order the optional sunroof. Standard tilt and telescope steering wheel makes it easy to get comfortable behind the wheel, and large windows and a low beltline contribute to excellent outward visibility.
The available blind-spot detection system works well to alert drivers when changing lanes. The cross-traffic warning system takes a little getting used to, but also alerts drivers to potential cross traffic when backing up.
Rear seats are adult sized and comfortable. Regardless of front seat position, two 6-foot adults are able to sit in comfort in the back seat. Taller riders will want more head and leg room, but overall Milan offers more than class competitive rear-seat room.
The trunk is roomy and features a large opening and trunk hinges that do not intrude on cargo capacity. The fold-down seats drop in a snap to expand cargo space. One note, Hybrid models lose the folding rear seats and get a substantially smaller trunk. Interior storage is ample, highlighted by a large glovebox and several additional bins on the dashboard and center console.
Bottom Line Fusion is much improved in its 2010 redesign. While many competitors are pushing to make their midsize offerings larger and more luxurious, Ford keeps Fusion a true midsize and buyers a choice of engines and additional safety features. That's an advantage in this tight economy.
For most buyers, Fusion SE with the four-cylinder and automatic is the best choice. That combo comes in at about $23,000 when nicely equipped. That's a great price and Fusion is a great midsize player. Obviously the competition is quite stiff and nearly all are top-notch vehicles. So, you'll want to shop around and drive them all. My advice, pick the one you like best and negotiate a great deal! Following that simple mantra, you really can't go wrong.