Probably the best thing I can say about the 2010 Ford Fusion
Hybrid is that the sedan looks and drives just like a conventional car. That cannot be said for the flurry of other hybrids that have come to market.
My litmus test for driving hybrids has evolved over the last few years and the biggest bar any new hybrid has to reach for me is that I am not reminded that I am driving a hybrid. The Fusion Hybrid does a great job of achieving that goal.
For instance, take the Toyota Prius; that sedan basks in its techno exterior design and touts its green nature in every aspect of the interior style. If you don't want to know you are driving a hybrid, in my opinion, the Ford Fusion does it best.
On top of that, it won the 2010 North American Car of the Year Award.
Ford features its second-generation hybrid system in the new Fusion Hybrid, and it is a smooth and enjoyable ride. The power flow, which is probably the single most differentiating aspect of all the hybrids, is especially fluid and I could hardly discern which combination of gasoline engine and electric motor was propelling the car.
The Fusion's continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) was a bit taxed at times when I jumped on the accelerator and pushed hard on some entries onto the highway. The Fusion's 191 horsepower is adequate for almost any normal situation one might encounter and this goes a long way to keeping the hybrid aspect less-than-obvious to the driver.
The really big news is the 2010 Fusion Hybrid delivers 41 miles per gallon city and 36 mpg highway. Ford said the Fusion Hybrid can drive on electric power alone at speeds up to 47 mph. Not bad for a five-passenger midsize sedan that starts at a base of $27,270. My tester had some nice options from a voice-activated navigation system and traffic alert to rearview camera and 12-speaker audio upgrade. The final price settled in at $31,940.
On the outside, the Fusion looks like a non-hybrid - a great thing in my book. Fusion did get a refreshing of the front and rear cues for 2010, and these are simply a tweak that further enhances the sophistication the Fusion exudes. The Fusion was one of the nation's 10 best-selling models last year and should do even better this year.
Ford makes a point of pointing to the Fusion Hybrid's standard seats, which are covered with an eco-friendly cloth, though my tester had optional leather. It is impressive to know the green attitude of the hybrid does not stop with the drivetrain.
Inside the cabin, the plastics and manmade materials are a bit too much for me. These large surfaces on the dash, on the armrests and in the door panels draw attention to themselves (and they are not supposed to).
The manmade materials may be a turnoff to some, but the twin SmartGauge screens that straddle the large, conventional speedometer are really cool and highly functional. Ford's Sync hands-free connectivity system for phones and iPods has been a big selling point for Ford vehicles and it really fits in well with this hybrid.
The SmartGauge's presentation is all about how much the Fusion is saving you. There is a really great display that grows greener and denser the more economically you drive.
The 2010 Ford Fusion, as a hybrid, does everything you might expect a hybrid to do: deliver great fuel economy and help your conscience feel a bit greener. What I think it does best is hardly ever remind you that you're in a hybrid - something less about your conscience and more about enjoying yourself.2010 Ford Fusion HybridENGINE:
191-horsepower 2.5-liter I-4TRANSMISSION:
continuously variable automaticDRIVETRAIN:
front-wheel driveFUEL ECONOMY:
41 city/36 highwayBASE PRICE:
$31,940WEB SITE: www.Ford.com