Ford's Fusion has evolved into a powertrain innovator of sorts in the crowded and competitive mid-size sedan sweepstakes.
Fusion offers a multitude of multi-technical propulsion offerings, the most diverse of any sedan in its class. Starting with a naturally aspirated four cylinder and continuing with turbo-charged powertrains and a couple of alternative-powered, high mileage motives.
Fusion undergoes a significant mid-cycle update in 2017 from a basepoint second-generation design launched in 2013. Ford debuted Fusion in 2006, slated between the compact Focus sedan and larger-dimensioned, Chicago-built Taurus four-door.
Fusion's trim level variety pack now includes a new top-shelf Platinum with all the bells and whistles and quilted seating surfaces, leather-wrapped instrument panel and window sills.
Also making headlines in 2017, an all-new 'Sport,' trim, serving as this week's tester. Prod open the hood and marvel at Ford's proud power-packing workhorse: a 2.7-liter V-6 twin turbo "EcoBoost" engine designated specifically to Sport.
Ecoboost is the Blue Oval's marketing mantra for a multitude of in-house family engines (four, six and eight cylinders) combining direct fuel injection ('Eco") with tweaked up turbo charging ('Boost').
Turbochargers run off of recycled exhaust gases spinning a pinwheel-inspired turbine to pump concentrated air into the engine. Turbocharging increases horsepower output without adding undue weight, enhancing fuel economy. A dual 'twin turbo' design minimizes 'turbo lag,' a hesitation sometimes present when punching the gas pedal.
This 2.7-liter twin turbo V-6 engine powertrain first appeared a couple years back in the redesigned full-size F-150 pickup. Tucked inside Fusion, this 2.7-liter delivers a more-than respectable 325 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque for an estimated zero to 60 time of 5.2 seconds. Delivering these stats requires 93-octane fuel.
Fusion's two alternative-power choices include a self-charging gas-electric hybrid delivering 43 mpg city and 41 mpg highway and the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid enabling travel up to 21 miles in pure electric mode before a hybrid powertrain springs into action.
Other gas-propelled engines include a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated (non-turbo) inline four cylinder engine cranking out 175 horses. Two additional 'Ecoboost' engines include: a 1.5-liter inline four (181 horsepower) and 2.0-liter inline four (245 horsepower). Gas engines mate to a relatively pedestrian six-speed manual transmission.
Excluding the two hybrid versions, 2017 trim levels include S, SE, Titanium, Sport and Platinum. In 2016, only S, SE and Titanium were offered. Sport and Platinum offer all-wheel drive, also new for 2017.
Fusion is the first Ford-family sedan to team with the 2.7- liter twin turbo Ecoboost after debuts in pickups and crossovers. Ford's upscale Lincoln Division followed shortly thereafter, announcing availability in the all-new full-size 2017 Continental sedan.
Fusion Spot's elongated oval grille includes a gloss black mesh honeycomb filling with Ford's diminutive blue logo above the fray rather than inside the grille. Narrow, wrap-around head light housing includes LED signature lighting and resides slightly above, never intersecting with the chrome-rimed grille; sharing a family resemblance to the compact Ford Focus sedan. Adding to Sport's confident exterior; chrome-tipped quad dual exhausts, a body-colored deck lid spoiler and 19-inch 'tarnished dark' wheels. Elegant chrome trim surrounds side windows.
If searching for the gas cap, forget it. As with most redesigned Fords, a cap-less fuel lead eliminates the tethered or free-standing twisty piece of plastic. During fill ups, the nozzle breaks though a barrier plate, which self seals once during the nozzle's exit.
Fusion Sport with standard all-wheel drive starts at $33,475. Option packages exclusive to this trim include a "Sport Upgrade" ($2,000) and "Sport Driver Assist" ($1,625), both included with our tester. After factoring in stand-alone options including park assist ($995), radar cruise control ($1,190) and in-dash navigation ($795), the bottom line ended at $41,350 with $875 destination charge. The lowest-priced Fusion, an S trim, checks in at a competitive $22,120.
As the Chicago suburbs welcome January's freeze-thaw cycles leading to pesky potholes of varying degrees of difficulty, Fusion Sport smooths out the ride with standard continuously controlled dampening. This suspension upgrade works with shocks to minimize tire depth upon encountering the pots of winter.
One can't-miss addition to Fusion's welcoming interior is the electronic, rotary-style gear selector. Nestled between front bucket seats, the tactile dial twists back-and-forth to select specific hears (prnd), each letter designate illuminating when chosen. Directly behind the shifter is a diminutive electronic parking brake activated with a simple finger pull of a flat tab. All trims and models include push-button electric start.
Choose a 'sport' mode setting for more fine-tuning of steering calibration, aggressive transmission shift schedule, throttle response and a low-growl engine note. The 'sport' button conveniently locates inside the rotary transmission dial.
Sport trims include automatic switching high beam headlight in use with no traffic ahead, and an automatic shut off when sensing approaching headlights; a simple advancement working very effectively to improve post-sunset visibility.
The steering wheel face continues as a hub of activity. Cruise control buttons locate on the left (9 o'clock side). Secondary volume and pre-set select buttons mount at 3 o'clock.
Both 3 and 9 o'clock positions include select-and-choose buttons monitoring a pair of digital message centers flanking a circular analog gauge inside instrument panel.
The right orb includes audio, phone and navigation data. The left flank scrolls through vehicle-specific information including tire pressure, distance to empty, tachometer, trip odometer and lane departure warning disengagement. Also occupying this left orb; an animated fuel gauge with a shaded vertical blue bar decreasing in size as fuel gets consumed.
It's taken a while, but Ford's center stack multi-function display screen and voice interaction has made significant leaps from the first-generation of SYNC introduced a decade ago. The 2017 Fusion includes an available third-generation (SYNC3) with sharp, bright graphics and icons along with 'written words' help swipe from one tutorial to the next. Kudos to Ford in responding to customer feedback, social media interaction and the automotive press.
Below the eight-inch color touch screen resides a lone, prominent center dial controlling audio levels. A tactile, narrow horizontal toggle bar to the left controls 'seek' functions while the right-side version handles 'tune.' Along the bottom, narrow toggle bars and small buttons monitor ventilation fan speed and temperature which at time necessitates taking eyes off the road to monitor. A better solution involves rocking old-school with tactile twist dials to swiftly update inside temperatures.
A deep-set, inward, open-air cavern with USB port and 12-volt outlet benefiting portable electronics resides along the lower third of the center column. For privacy sake, a second port and outlet reside inside the long, large, two-tier storage bin between the bucket seats. Both USB ports illuminate at night.
At 16.0 cubic feet, trunk measurements clock in slightly above average for the mid-size segment. Goose-neck-type hinges include heavy padding, all but eliminating any chance of unwanted encounters with parcels. Second row back rests fold down with a 60/40 split allowing trunk access once interior pull tabs atop each backrest yank upward. Row two accommodates two adults in optimal comfort; three in a short-term pinch.
At a healthy 3,982 pounds, Fusion Sport checks in at the heavier end of the mid-size scale.
At a glance
Price as tested: $41,350
Engine: 2.7-liter V-6
Overall Length: 191.8 inches
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Overall Width: 72.9 inches
Overall Height: 58.2 inches
Fuel economy: 17 mpg City, 26 mpg highway
Curb weight: 3,982 pounds
Assembly: Hermosillo, Mexico