2014 Ford Fusion Review

2014 Ford Fusion - Steep price offset by teriffic fuel economy and Fusion's overall goodness.


Vehicle Tested
2014 Ford Fusion Energi SE
Base Price: $38,700
As-Tested Price: $40,585
Built in Mexico.

Reverse Sensing System
Navigation System

Engine: 2.0-liter I4/Electric, 195 horsepower
Transmission: CVT Speed Automatic
Drive Wheels: Front-Wheel Drive

Ford's Fusion Energi hit the streets last year as the automaker's response to the Chevrolet Volt. Like the Volt, the Fusion Energi can operate in electric-only mode as well as range-extended gas-powered mode. Unlike the Volt, which is an electric vehicle that has a gas-powered generator, the Fusion Energi is hybrid vehicle with a larger battery. In the Energi, this battery can provide about 20 miles of electric-only range.

Like other Fusions, the Energi is a five-passenger, front-drive midsize sedan. It directly competes with vehicles like the Honda Accord Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Kia Optima Hybrid and Toyota Prius V.

Fusion Energi is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that's paired with an electric motor to provide a combined output of 195 horsepower.  A lithium-ion battery provides power for the electric motor. Charging is accomplished by plug or through regenerative braking and some gas-engine charging.

Two models are offered, the $38,700 SE and $40,500 Titanium. The SE features 17-inch alloy wheels, auto headlights, foglights, heated auto-dimming mirrors, keypad entry, auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, power front seats, heated front seats, driver memory settings, dual-zone automatic climate control, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, trip computer and a 110-volt household-style power outlet.

Titanium adds keyless entry/ignition, remote start with pre-heating/cooling of the interior, a rear spoiler, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, front sport seats and an upgraded audio system with 12 speakers and HD radio.

Optional safety features include inflatable (airbag) rear seatbelts, blind-spot warning system, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist) and rear parking sensors. Also optional are a navigation system, an automated parallel-parking system (with front parking sensors) and adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake support.

Both models come with SYNC voice-activated audio and cell phone interface and the MyFord Touch electronics interface that has an 8-inch central LCD touchscreen and two 4-inch configurable gauge cluster displays.

Fusion Energi is built in Mexico and has a destination charge of $795.

Get Up and Go  Fusion Energi is not a pure electric like the Nissan Leaf or even an extended-range electric like the Chevrolet Volt. It's best to think of Energi as a hybrid vehicle with a big battery that can provide an electric-only boost. That being said, this innovative drivetrain does a great job of mixing energy-saving technology with common-sense execution.

Plug the Fusion Energi in for a few hours and you'll be rewarded with about 20 miles of electric-only driving if you so choose. After that, the 2.0-liter gas/hybrid system kicks in to provide another 400-plus miles of gas/electric range. It's a sweet combo that might make a great fit for many people's daily commute.

Driven in electric mode, the Fusion Energi feels a bit sleepy away from a stop and has only modest passing power. Let the gas engine help and performance picks up nicely to become more than adequate for most needs. While it's never as quick as the 2.0-liter Ecoboost engine option, the Energi feels similar to driving the 1.6-liter turbo.

Drivers can choose between three driving modes, Electric, gas, or automatic. In electric, the gas engine remains shut off unless the battery charge becomes too low, then that mode is disabled and the gas engine kicks in. In gas, the vehicle operates as a regular hybrid, but the engine computer tries to conserve the remaining battery charge to allow you to shift back to electric mode later. This is a great feature for people who might have a commute that includes highway driving. Use the electric motor on city streets, switch to gas on the highway, and then switch back to electric for the rest of your drive. Finally, there's an automatic mode that takes control of the power source away from the driver but tries to maximize fuel economy until the battery can no longer support electric mode and then switches to pure hybrid.

Regardless of operation, the engine connects to the wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission. It doesn't have traditional stepped gears and instead operates without shifts to provide smooth and continuous power. It takes some getting use to, but after a few days you certainly won't miss the jerkiness of a traditional automatic.

Fuel economy is outstanding. The EPA gives Fusion Energi a gas/electric MPG equivalent of 100 mpg. Driven in straight hybrid mode, Energi is rated at an impressive 43 mpg. Obviously, your fuel economy will depend on how willing you are to take advantage of the plug-in range and obviously your ability to plug in.

Most American's face a 30-mile round-trip commute to work each day. Given the opportunity to plug in at least on one leg of the trip, you'd be driving about 10 miles per day on gas. With an EPA rating of 43 mpg, you'd easily see a gas-electric equivalent of 100 mpg. Impressive.

Ford says the battery can be fully charged in 7 hours with a 120-volt power source or 2.5 hours using a 240-volt source

On the Road  Fusion Energi rides as you might expect with typical American-car comfort. The compliant suspension soaks up road imperfections easily and quells secondary motions nicely. On the flipside, Fusion lacks the athletic road manners of some of its competitors. The steering is a trifle overboosted and there is too much body lean in quick lane changes. Brakes have good stopping power and none of the touchiness found in some other hybrids, though.

Interior noise levels are quite low. Tire and wind noise are minimal and the engine hardly ever creates a ruckus. Overall, Fusion Energi is refined and comfortable rather than loud and flashy.

Behind the Wheel   Fusion sports one of the most user-friendly interiors in the industry. Materials are top notch and fit and finish are excellent. In addition, most gauges and controls are perfectly designed for easy use. A really nice touch is a configurable instrument panel that can show navigation, audio, or phone details on the right and trip, fuel economy, or vehicle information on the left.

The sole criticism of Fusion's interior package might be the optional MyFord Touch interface. Operation takes some training to and a detailed trip through the owner's manual. For many, it's tech overload. However, if you take the time to understand how to navigate and pick up the shortcuts, it certainly can reduce driver distraction when changing the radio station, making a phone call or even cooling the cabin.

Front seats are sized just right, not too big, not too small. They offer great support without being firm. Head and leg room are exceptional. Outward visibility is good to the front and sides, but somewhat restricted out back.

Rear seats are comfortable and roomy. Knee and foot room are good unless you move the front seats all the way back. The bench seat is nicely bolstered and provides a nice space in the middle for three-abreast seating.

Fusion Energi hides a large battery not-so-unobtrusively in the back wall of the trunk. This greatly reduces cargo space - perhaps the biggest downfall of this car. If you need a large trunk, opt for the 1.6-liter Ecoboost.

Bottom Line  With a price tag north of $40,000, Fusion Energi isn't going to win the war of the pocketbook with competitors or even the Chevrolet Volt. That said, it carries all of the virtues of the class-leading Fusion - sans the voluminous trunk - and throws in great fuel economy. To get the most of this vehicle you really need to have good plug-in options, otherwise opt for the hybrid-only model.

Mark Bilek

Mark Bilek is the Senior Director of Communications and Technology for the Chicago Auto Trade Association and the General Manager for DriveChicago.com. He is also responsible for developing and maintaining the Chicago Auto Show Web site.

Mark has been reviewing vehicles for more than two decades. Previously, he was associate publisher at Consumer Guide, where he oversaw publication of Consumer Guide Car & Truck Test, Consumer Guide's Used Car Book, and ConsumerGuide.com. He was also responsible for publication of "Collectible Automobile" and various hardcover automotive titles. In 2001 and 2002 he served as president of a Midwest Automotive Media Association. Mark has appeared on NBC TV, ABC TV, Fox News, WGN and MotorTrend TV as an automotive consultant. He hosts the Drive Chicago radio show on WLS 890 AM and was a regular guest on WGN Radio's Steve & Johnnie show. Mark lives in the northwest suburbs with his wife and three sons.