By Frank S. Washington
Santa Monica, Calif., — Four out of five cars sold in the U.S. last year were midsize sedans. And Ford is making a serious push to get a bigger slice of that market which is expected to grow even larger.
The Fusion is a global car. Ford will produce it and its sister model, the Mondeo, in Flat Rock, Mich.; Hermosillo, Mexico; Genk, Belgium; Russia and China. We came here to test drive the 2013 Ford Fusion. The lineup is being hawked as the most fuel efficient family of midsize sedans in the country. What’s more, the Ford Fusion looked really good.
The car had a sleek silhouette, thin roof pillars, taunt surfaces, LED taillights, polished exhaust tips and Ford’s new face: the trapezoidal grille. In a phrase, the 2013 Ford Fusion is a sure bet to turn heads.
The new Ford Fusion is the first sedan to offer gasoline, hybrid and a plug-in hybrid powertrain that will be added to the Fusion lineup next year.
There are three gasoline powered engines. A 2.5-liter four cylinder makes 175 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and gets 22 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.
The 1.6 liter EcoBoost (turbocharged) four cylinder makes 178 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to a six-speed automatic or it can be paired with a six-speed manual gearbox. Fuel efficiency numbers are 23 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway when equipped with automatic gear shifter and 25 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway, if you’re doing the shifting yourself.
The 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder makes 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic. This powertrain gets 22 mpg in the city whether in front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. But it drops two mpg on the highway in all-wheel-drive.
I was the navigator when we took out a 2013 Ford Fusion for a short test drive. It was equipped with a 1.6-lter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission equipped with start stop. Start stop was just what it sounds like. When our test car stopped the engine shut off, it’s a fuel saving technology first introduced on hybrids. As soon as my driving partner lifted his foot off the brakes the engine would restart.
The technology helps get the 2013 Ford Fusion with a 1.6 EcoBoost start stop engine with an automatic transmission 25 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the hwy and 29 mpg combined. That’s the highest fuel rating for any gasoline powered Fusion.
The best part about start stop is that it can be disabled by pushing a button on the center console. That’s a good thing in stop and go traffic. Also, it was warm here, when the engine stopped the air conditioner fan would gear down but not shut off. Thus, some cooled air was still coming into the car. But when it wasn’t enough and the temperature in the car rose the engine would restart. No matter what, the engine will restart after two minutes to keep the 12 volt absorbed glass matt battery well charged.
As impressive as the technology of the Fusion was I was also taken with its new interior design. It was clean, simple and easy to navigate. As the Fusion gets more features, Ford is intent on making them simple to operate. The only buttons on my Fusion’s center stack were the volume and tune knobs for the radio. Climate control was a touchpad while MyFordTouch and Ford Sync were on the touch screen. But that was for the SE trim.
The seats were soft without being cushy. I sunk right into the sweet spot of the seat. It was really comfortable. The Fusion was really quiet, too.
We headed north on Pacific Coast Highway and took a right onto Sunset Boulevard. We went over some rough patches of pavement. The suspension responded well and the 1.6 cylinder engine didn’t strain as we climbed up Sunset.
The Ford Fusion Hybrid we took out next had the same handling characteristics but the Atkinson four cylinder engine and electric more combination seemed a little weaker than the EcoBoost powerplant. But I noticed that when I pulled off from a stop at a relatively slow rate of speed the car stayed in electric vehicle mode (EV) longer than other hybrids I’ve test driven.
The Fusion Hybrid will stay in EV mode up to 62 mph. Its EV capability is one reason it has an EPA rating of 47 mpg across the board. That’s in the city, on the highway and combined driving.
The car had adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera, blind spot alert, driver alert system, lane keeping system and park assist. But what I found most interesting was the pull drift compensation system. In other words, in strong crosswinds, the 2013 Ford Fusion will make slight steering compensation to keep motoring in a straight line.
What’s more, the 2013 Ford Fusion that I found the most enjoyable to drive was the 1.6-liter EcoBoost with a six speed manual. Ironically, of the gasoline powered Fusions that will probably be the low volume Fusion.
But there’s nothing else low about the 2013 Ford Fusion. It’s a high quality midsize sedan. Prices start at $22,495.