MEDIA REVIEWS is a compilation of reviews and write-ups of test drives of various e-drive vehicles by the different authors and media. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of EV World. Click the article title to expand the story.
Test Drive: Ford Fusion Hybrid
Larry Prinz discovers during his test drive that not only does the Ford Fusion Hybrid save fuel, but looks great at the same time.
Providence Journal/USA 13 Apr 2014
As a general rule, gas-electric hybrid cars and trucks are not fun; their very nature precludes it. Hybrids are made to maximize conservation at the expense of stimulation. The thrill of driving one is seeing the mpg indicator creep higher, rather than the speedometer.
But a fuel-sipper doesn’t have to look ugly to be efficient; you could opt for the 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid.
Seriously. Take a good look. I’ll wait.
See what I mean? It’s so beautiful you’d never guess that it’s a hybrid.
Redesigned last year, the Fusion’s face wears a grille that bears more than a passing resemblance to the one used by Aston Martin. It fronts a sleek, athletic body that’s a bit more distinctive. Taken together, the car is about as fetching as you can expect a mainstream midsize sedan to be.
Perhaps its most beautiful feature is its EPA rating: 47 mpg city, 47 mpg highway. My 310-mile test drive yielded a very respectable 43 mpg, which is better than most conventional compact cars.
As you may know, a gas-electric hybrid pairs a gas engine with one or more electric motors. By having electricity do some of the chores, the car or truck burns less gas. As a concept, it’s more than 100 years old. As a realistic transportation solution, it’s about 15 years old. And it works seamlessly in the Fusion Hybrid.
Ford combines a 141-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a 118-horsepower electric motor and funnels the power through a continuously variable automatic transmission to the front wheels. Horsepower is rated at 188. That’s not enough to make the Fusion a speed demon, but the car proves lively enough to slug it out in the worst suburban street warfare.
That said, you’ll notice a hum from the gas engine when it comes on; it’s just enough to let you know what’s happening under the hood. And, as with other Ford hybrid models, you’ll be coached into driving conservatively. A screen to the right of the speedometer displays a diagram of a plant. The more leaves appear, the more efficiently you’re driving.
But efficiency has not changed the Fusion’s impressive agility. The Hybrid’s handling is every bit as good as the standard Fusion. The car has a solid feel, and the steering seems perfectly weighted. Body roll is kept to a minimum when tackling corners, and braking isn’t as grabby as with other hybrids. It is a very willing dance partner, even for car enthusiasts.
While dancing, you’ll find the cabin’s decor is starkly modern, with a good quality feel that will satisfy most shoppers. Offered in S, SE and Titanium trim levels, the Fusion’s interior is fairly roomy, with good room up front and adequate room in the rear. But the car’s arched roof line, which does much for its sporty looks, compromises rear seat headroom. It also requires care when entering or exiting the rear or else you’ll knock your noggin.
Opting for the Hybrid also means living with an oddly shaped trunk that’s noticeably smaller than that of the standard Fusion. Much of the missing space is taken up by the hybrid’s battery pack.
But none of this is enough to rob the car of its basic goodness.
There’s little doubt that the Ford Fusion Hybrid is the perfect, um, fusion of fuel economy, enjoyable handling and striking looks.
It makes saving fuel easy on the eyes as well as the wallet. Conserving fuel rarely looks this beautiful.
2014 FORD FUSION HYBRID
Engine: DOHC 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Motor: Permanent magnet AC synchronous
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length: 191.8 inches
Weight: 3,668 pounds
Cargo space: 12 cubic feet
EPA rating (city/ highway): 47/47 mpg
Fuel consumption: 43 mpg
Fuel type: Regular
Base price, base model: $26,270
Base price, test model: $27,200
As tested, including destination charge: $35,855
Test Drive: Ford's Fusion Energi Electric Hybrid
Reviewer Dan Wiese reports on his test drive of Ford's plug-in hybrid and concludes that its economic value depends on how short your work commute is.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch 09 Dec 2013
When a 2014 Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid arrived for a test drive, we expected it to be even more efficient than the impressive 41 mpg we've registered in the standard Fusion Hybrid. And it was. A little. But Energi's efficiency improvement requires compromises.
For starters, Energi, which can run on pure electric power or as a gas/electric hybrid, has limited electric range. The EPA says it's as high as 21 miles, depending on ambient temperature and driving habits, but we never did better than 14.
Second, the trunk is tiny — 8.2 cubic feet, compared to 12 in a standard Fusion Hybrid.
Finally, it's more expensive. Subtracting the $4,007 federal tax rebate that EPA's website lists for Energi, its base price is $30,488. That's about $3,500 more than a standard Fusion Hybrid, which does not qualify for a tax break.
With that background, here's how our six days with the Energi plug-in hybrid went:
We drove 249.1 miles, using a total of 5.1 gallons of gas. That means we got 49 miles per gallon, right? Nope. That assumes charging the car is free. It isn't.
It takes 7.6 kWh to charge Energi. At Ameren’s current winter residential rates of 8 cents a kWh, it costs about 61 cents to fully charge Energi. Multiply that by the five times we charged Energi overnight, and it comes to $3.04 worth of electricity. Add that to the $16 worth of gas we used (5.1 gallons at $3.15 per gallon) and the total cost to run Energi for 249 miles was $19.10.
That $19.10 equates to the cost of six gallons of gas at $3.15 per gallon, meaning, from a cost-to-operate standpoint, we really averaged about 42 mpg, just one more than we've managed with a standard Fusion Hybrid. Of course, the more miles one drives in electric mode, the cheaper Energi is to operate.
So if you live within, say, seven or eight miles of where you work, you could commute all week, charging Energi nightly, and not use a drop of gas. Plus, Energi's ability to function as a standard gas/electric hybrid means you could also drive coast-to-coast with no hours-long charging hassles. Try that in an electric car.
So, is Energi worth the compromises? Depends on how many miles you can log in electric-only mode.
Energi's hybrid components, including the lithium-ion battery pack and electric motor, are warranted for eight years or 100,000 miles.
Ford's Fusion Energi: It Is the Future
Washington Post's auto columnist Warren Brown believes electric hybrids like the Fusion Energi are the future of auto technology.
Concord Monitor 31 Jul 2013
Change comes, albeit slowly.
Examples abound – smartphones, computerized notebooks.
I never thought I’d have to depend on those things. I now find it difficult to get though a day without using one.
The same thing will happen with electrified automobiles. That’s “electrified,” as opposed to “electric” per se.
Electric vehicles, battery-only types, constitute a singular version of electrified models, which include cars such as the subject of this week’s column, the 2014 Ford Fusion Energi sedan in its SE Luxury edition.
It is a plug-in electric hybrid, quite similar to the Chevrolet Volt. Both cars can run a certain number of miles battery-only, freeing them from the need to burn gasoline and exhaust its fumes.
But both cars also come with extended-range technology – small gasoline-fueled engines/generators that take over when charged batteries discharge.
The essential difference is that the Fusion Energi can carry you up to 21 miles battery-only. The Chevrolet Volt offers a nearly 40-mile battery-only range.
After several hundred miles, mostly commuting, in the Fusion Energi, I’m not at all certain that its shorter battery-only driving range is a real disadvantage. Here’s why:
My regular commuting day – one during which I run local errands only – rarely involves more than 20 miles of driving. It helps that I work from home. At the end of one of those 20-mile days, I plug in and charge up and I’m ready for the next day’s driving free of the need to buy or burn gasoline.
I drove the Fusion Energi in this manner for nearly 300 miles, buying gasoline only when I deliberately drove the battery into its discharge zone. I made it home after a 120-mile highway run with a bit more than three-fourths of a tank of gasoline (regular grade) remaining. I was happy with that – decent gasoline-free driving range, good fuel-economy (41 miles per gallon on the highway) when gasoline was needed, all-around good highway performance in an overall well-crafted sedan.
I don’t expect a groundswell of consumer enthusiasm for the Ford Fusion Energi, not any more than I did, in retrospect, for the Chevrolet Volt. But both cars are necessary in a world of rapidly changing energy needs and growing challenges to meeting those needs.
Both cars cost more than most of us are willing to pay when perfectly serviceable gasoline-only automobiles are available at lower prices. The Ford Fusion Energi starts at $38,700. The Chevrolet Volt Hatchback begins at $39,145.
By comparison, a wonderfully plush gasoline-only Ford Fusion Titanium sedan starts at $33,295. You’ll be driving for quite a while before you recover, in lower gasoline costs, the higher premium paid for the plug-in electric Fusion Energi.
Why buy it?
Answering that question will require thinking beyond your bank account, which is a difficult if not impossible proposition for most of us.
I’ll just say that the Ford Fusion Energi, Chevrolet Volt and similar automobiles all make sense for the world we are in.
It is a world of increasing, dangerously competitive energy demands, which is difficult for many of us to see sitting comfortably in the United States. But it becomes crystal clear in places such as Africa, China, South America and the Middle East.
Governments worldwide are pressuring their vehicle manufacturers to help reduce that tension in the struggle for energy resources. Cars such as the Fusion Energi and Volt can help do that while simultaneously giving consumers what they want and need in automobiles.
Both will remain hard sells for a while longer. But they will sell.
We need them, which is why we eventually will buy them.
Ford Fusion Energi E-Hybrid Earns High Marks
Other than the complaining about the battery pack reducing trunk space, the Energi electric hybrid plug-in is rated a 'whisper-quiet vehicle, features good looks, and creature comforts."
Vancouver Sun/Canada 03 May 2013
So, you think plug-in hybrids are a flaky enviro-weenie fad, destined to fade like mood rings, high-heeled sneakers and ant farms?
Ford begs to differ.
The U.S.-based automaker is projecting to sell more than 19,000 hybrid/electric vehicles in the fourth quarter of this year, bettering its own previous record by some 50 per cent.
The company has launched five electrified vehicles in the past 18 months, the latest being the Fusion Energi, a mid-size sedan that made big news right out of the box when the US. Environmental Protection Agency proclaimed it North America’s most fuel-efficient sedan. Its 108 MPGe city rating bested the Toyota Prius plug-in by 5 MPGe (see info box for explanation on MPGe). The Fusion Energi metric conversion is 1.9Le/100 km in all-electric mode and 4.5L/100 km in hybrid mode.
Two other Ford vehicles, the Focus Electric and the C-Max Energi, have MPGe ratings north of 100.
Unlike those two, however, the Fusion doesn’t look like an electric or even a hybrid vehicle. Apart from some rear-end ‘Energi’ badging and the round charging port door on the driver’s side front fender, the sedan looks just likes its Fusion stablemates.
In other words, fantastic.
Ford’s global design studios have been hitting it out of the park in the past few years, and the totally redesigned Fusion is a great example of that.
The mid-size sedan category had long been conservative and staid when it came to design — think Honda Accord and Toyota Camry — but Hyundai shook things up in 2011 with the release of the radical — for the segment at least — sixth-generation Sonata.
The second generation Fusion, out as a 2013 model, has set the bar higher. Longer, wider and taller than the outgoing Fusion, the new sedan has striking good looks, and that distinctive front grille has drawn many flattering comparisons to Aston Martin designs.
In addition, the 2013 Fusion is the first production sedan to ever offer three distinct drivetrain options: gas, hybrid and plug-in hybrid.
I’d driven both the gasoline and hybrid versions during the North American press launch in Southern California in September and was duly impressed with their performance, handling and creature comforts. The real lasting impression, however, was how quiet they were in terms of cabin noise. The slippery skin of the Fusion cut through the air to the point that there was barely any wind noise at highway speeds. All you could hear was the engine.
So, given that the Energi can run on all-electric power for up to 34 kilometres, that eliminates the engine noise too. Translation: silent running. That’s nearly triple the electric-only range of the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid and double the range of the Honda Accord plug-in hybrid.
Filled with fuel and with the on-board battery fully charged, the Fusion Energi has a range of 998 kilometres, more than the round-trip distance between Vancouver and Portland, Ore.
So what’s not to like?
Well, if you plan on taking your Saturday morning foursome golfing, you would do well to rent clubs once you get to the course. The trunk space in the Energi is vastly compromised by the on-board battery pack; to the point that one big golf bag with pull cart is about all you’ll stuff in there.
The Energi’s top-of-the-line Titanium trim softens that baggage blow in a big way, however.
Its feature list reads like a luxury vehicle’s, including 10-way power driver’s seat with lumbar, 12-speaker Sony sound system, rear-view camera, push-button start and Sync with MyFord connectivity.
There’s also a host of sensors, radar and cameras mounted around the vehicle to provide a number of technological features typically found on much more expensive sedans. These include a lane keeping system, self-parallel parking, adaptive cruise control, active park assist and a blind spot information system.
USA Today Reviewer Finds Ford Fusion Energi 'More Fun Than Volt'
James R. Healey finds Ford Fusion Energi electric hybrid passes test of driving like a 'normal' car.
Pensacola News Journal 17 Apr 2013
Ford added a plug-in hybrid to its Fusion midsize sedan lineup, and it really does go about 21 miles on the battery before you need the gasoline engine.
Chevrolet Volt plug-in goes 38 miles before the battery needs help, so Energi (Ford's designation for plug-in hybrids) isn't a record-setter. But it's roomier and more comfortable than Volt, and more fun to drive.
And it has Fusion's dramatic styling, which many (including Test Drive) think looks terrific.
Fusion Energi has two missions: to be a good car and to cut fuel use and the attendant costs. Before we comb through those, let's be sure we're all on the same page:
A hybrid has a gasoline engine and an electric motor, tied together via the transmission. That saves fuel because the gas engine runs less often, letting the electric do some of the work of propelling the car. There's no plug-in feature. The batteries for the electric motor are recharged when the car slows and stops (called regenerative braking) and by the gas engine running a generator, as needed. A hybrid can't go far on battery-power only - a mile, maybe three - because the battery pack isn't big.
A plug-in hybrid, such as Fusion Energi, has a much bigger battery pack, which dramatically increases weight, cost and electric-only range. Plug-ins, also called PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles), can be plugged into a household outlet to recharge their batteries, rather than relying only on regenerative braking and the gas engine.
The PHEV universe is small. In addition to the Fusion Energi and the Chevy Volt, the government recognizes the Ford C-Max Energi, the Toyota Prius PHEV, and the Fisker Karma, currently out of production.
Government-listed ranges when the cars are running solely on battery power run from 11 miles for the Prius, 21 miles for the Fords, to 34 for the Fisker and 38 for the Chevy.
PHEVs coming within about a year, according to the government: Honda Accord (on sale in California and New York since Jan. 15; no plan to go nationwide); Mitsubishi Outlander; Cadillac ELR; and Audi A3 e-tron.
Fusion Energi is special and priced at $40,000, more or less (mostly more). The bigger battery pack is mainly why. Energi models are more lavishly equipped than corresponding normal hybrids, Ford notes.
As a car, Fusion Energi succeeds well, but is hardly perfect. Driving in electric-only mode works fine in urban and suburban driving. Electrics deliver all their power instantly, so the car squirts away from stoplights just fine. It's suitable for steady-state highway cruising.
But electrics have little left to give once the car is underway, so flooring the throttle at, say, 30 mph results in a very sluggish increase in velocity. No diving and dancing through traffic, fast merging, quick passing.
In "auto" mode, Energi blends the gas and electric power like a regular hybrid. That provides plenty of acceleration for most situations. The gas engine even has a husky growl that some ears will find pleasing.
The car is hundreds of pounds heavier than others of its size, and that shows up over rippled asphalt, where Fusion Energi seems to bound a bit, as if the suspension is working hard to control two tons of car.
Cornering, on the other hand, is normal. The reluctant feel of an overweight machine is diminished, and Energi handles the "S" turns as well as an ordinary sedan.
The test car was a Titanium high-end version, and the interior was suitably sumptuous. Exceptional leather upholstery pleasing to the eye and the tush; crisp, tasteful dashboard and interior layout and trim. Plenty of rear leg room in the two outboard seats, but the middle slot's compromised by the center tunnel.
The Ford system of controls remains too awkward, but was manageable and didn't act up. It was, however, hard of hearing when the driver tried to give voice commands with the climate control fan roaring, or windows down. Not unusual, but shouldn't we be beyond that by now?
The high-end car has MyFordMobile. It lets your smart phone monitor the battery charge, find public recharging stations, plan trips using electric-only mode and more.
You might never need the gas engine in normal use. Ford says 20 miles is an average commute, so by that math, you could go one way entirely on the 21-mile battery range, plug in at work, and go home on battery only. Recharging after that battery-draining drive takes several hours and about $1 worth of electricity. In a gasoline car, you might spend $3 on fuel for the same distance.
But if you run Energi until the battery's drained, then let it switch to the gas-electric mode, mpg will be in the 30s or 40s. That's lower than a non-Energi Fusion hybrid, which is up to $11,400 cheaper but has virtually no ability to run on battery only.
Test Drive believes alternative power vehicles should look and drive like normal cars to broaden their appeal beyond fans. Fusion Energi passes that test with a high grade.
What? Plug-in hybrid version of the midsize, four-door, front-drive, five-passenger Fusion sedan. Energi is Ford's designation for plug-in hybrids; there's an Energi version of Ford's C-Max.
Plug-in hybrids have bigger batteries than other hybrids. Fusion Energi can run 21 miles on battery only before the gasoline engine has to start and provide power. Regular hybrid, about one mile battery-only.
When? On sale since late February.
Where? Made at Hermosillo, Mexico.
How much? SE starts at $39,475 including $795 shipping. Titanium, $40,895. Buyers qualify for up to $3,750 federal income tax credit, Ford says.
Compared with regular Fusion SE hybrid and Titanium hybrid, Energi prices are about $11,400 and $8,000 higher, respectively. Ford says Energi's much bigger battery is much more expensive, and the Energi versions have considerably more standard features.
What makes it go? 2-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine and electric motor, together rated a combined 188 horsepower. Total combined torque rating not given. Gas engine is 129 pounds-feet at 4,000 rpm. Powertrain linked to CVT (continuously variable-ratio automatic transmission).
How big? Typical midsize (think Camry, Accord, Malibu); same as other Fusions but much smaller trunk because of bigger battery pack. Fusion Energi is 191.8 inches long, 72.9 in. wide, 58 in. tall on a 112.2-in. wheelbase.
The bigger battery boosts weight to 3,913 lbs., which is 298 lbs. more than non-plug-in hybrid and as much as 492 lbs. more than gasoline models.
Trunk space is 8.8 cubic feet, down from 12 cu. ft. in regular hybrid.
How thirsty? Rated 100 miles-per-gallon-equivalent in combined city/highway driving using electric-only mode. That means it consumes the same amount of energy as a gasoline car that could get 100 mpg. To fully charge it five times, as necessary to go 100 miles on battery only, is about $3.90 at the U.S. average price for electricity.
In normal hybrid mode, when the car switches between gas and electric power as conditions dictate, the rating is 44 mpg in the city, 41 highway, 43 in city/highway mix.
Test car, a Titanium model that was fully recharged every night, showed 140 mpg-e when used entirely as an electric car, and 33.8 mpg operated as a normal hybrid.
Burns regular, holds 13 gallons.
Overall: Good-looking, pleasant-driving - but expensive - way to slice gasoline use.
Consumer Reports Questions Ford Fuel Economy Claims
After testing Ford Fusion Hybrid and C-Max, Consumer Reports finds 10 mpg variance with advertised claims.
Wall Street Journal 07 Dec 2012
Ford’s hybrid Fusion sedan and C-Max wagon fall short of the company’s fuel economy claims, according to tests by Consumer Reports magazine. Both vehicles have ratings of 47 miles per gallon in city, highway and combined driving. But the magazine, which is known for no-nonsense vehicle tests, said the Fusion delivered 39 mpg overall and the C-Max logged 37 mpg during its evaluations.
The magazine said the two Fords have the biggest gaps between their EPA mileage estimates and their actual performance of any current models it has tested.
“After running both vehicles through our real-world tests, we have gotten very good results. But they are far below Ford’s ambitious triple-47 figures,” Consumer Reports said.
Ford said customers who truly focused on driving efficiently got results matching or exceeding its estimates. The company said the cars have “coaching” technology built in, including gauges that guide drivers in the proper use of throttle, brake and other features to maximize fuel economy.
“Early C-MAX Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid customers praise the vehicles and report a range of fuel economy figures, including some reports above 47 mpg,” the car maker said in a statement. “This reinforces the fact that driving styles, driving conditions, and other factors can cause mileage to vary.”
Auto experts for years have questioned fuel-economy ratings on numerous vehicles and many have suspected a certain degree of gamesmanship in the testing used to establish mileage estimates. Recently, however, the stakes have risen rapidly as fuel economy has become a major selling point for new cars. Critics say some companies take a fast-and-loose approach with fuel economy, testing in conditions that do not fairly represent real-world driving.
Last month the auto industry was shaken when Hyundai Motor Co. admitted to inflating fuel-economy ratings on certain models. Following that episode, industry insiders and consumers have been especially wary of mileage claims that seem too good to be true.
Here’s a Consumer Reports chart showing as-tested fuel economy for top-performing models:
Make & model
CR overall mpg
EPA combined mpg
Ford C-Max SE
Ford Fusion Hybrid SE
Toyota Prius C Two
Honda Civic Hybrid
Lexus ES 300h
Buick LaCrosse (4-cyl., eAssist)
Honda Insight EX
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Lexus RX 450h
Lexus CT 200h
Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE
Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Toyota Prius V Three
Chevrolet Malibu Eco
Honda CR-Z EX (manual)
Pretty Ford Fusion Hybrid Even More Affordable
Price of 2013 model is $1,575 less than 2012 Fusion Hybrid.
AP 08 Nov 2012 Who says that fuel-thrifty gasoline-electric hybrid cars have to be snub-nosed, rounded and ho-hum to look at?
Not designers at Ford Motor Co., whose 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid is arguably the prettiest hybrid car in the U.S. market.
Most people won't recognize this new, curvaceous model as a relative of last year's Ford Fusion. Some sports car enthusiasts thought the test 2013 Fusion Hybrid had styling cues from an Aston Martin luxury sedan.
Better yet, the extensively-revised-for-2013 Fusion Hybrid is quiet inside and larger than its predecessor, has European handling and is rated at 47 miles per gallon in combined city/highway driving by the federal government.
This rating makes the five-seat, 2013 Fusion Hybrid second only to the long-running, mid-size, five-seat Toyota Prius hatchback in fuel efficiency in the U.S. market. The 2012 Prius is rated at a combined 50 mpg by the U.S. government. No 2013 Prius rating is posted yet.
Just as notable is the 2013 Fusion Hybrid's starting retail price of $27,995. This includes the latest technology lithium-ion battery that stores electricity that's generated while the car travels.
The price for the new car is $1,575 less than the starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $29,570 for last year's Fusion Hybrid with last year's styling and older, nickel-metal hydride battery.
And, not to be missed, Ford offers a slew of standard and optional safety equipment on the new Fusion Hybrid.
There are eight standard air bags, including two knee air bags for the two front-seat passengers to keep them from "submarining" from their seats during a frontal crash. Optional safety items include a new warning system to alert a driver that an impending frontal collision is possible and attention needs to be directed to a vehicle ahead.
Say a truck just ahead slows, but the Fusion Hybrid driver's foot remains on the gas pedal without change of pressure. The warning system flashes bright red lights onto the driver-side windshield and makes an audible warning sound.
Competitors to the new Fusion Hybrid obviously include the Prius, which has been the top-selling hybrid in the United States. The 2012 Prius has a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $24,795. No 2013 Prius pricing has been released.
Toyota's Camry Hybrid has a retail starting price of $26,785 as a 2012 model. This is $1,210 less than the stylish 2013 Fusion Hybrid. The five-seat, mid-size Camry Hybrid is rated at a combined 41 mpg.
Meantime, another stylish gas-electric hybrid — the 2012 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid — starts at $26,626, or $1,370 less than the new Fusion Hybrid.
The 2013 Fusion Hybrid is one of three Fusion offerings.
One is a plug-in model that's due later this model year, and the other is a gasoline model that provides a choice of three, four-cylinder engines: A naturally aspirated four cylinder and two turbocharged four cylinders. For 2013, there is no V-6.
All the new Fusions have a new front-wheel drive platform that's a reworked platform from the European Ford Mondeo sedan.
The test car won high marks for its looks, and people didn't stop with compliments about the exterior.
The interior, too, seemed upscale, with a high-quality look to the plastics and tester's comfortable seats that felt neither too firm nor cushy.
Note the dashboard sits higher than those in a Camry or Honda Accord, though.
The Fusion Hybrid's electronic aids take some getting used to, and yes, the new hybrid can be had with the often-criticized MyFord Touch system that puts audio, ventilation and navigation controls on a display in the middle of the dashboard.
But the buttons there don't provide any tactile feedback, so drivers also can use some steering wheel buttons that are redundant for the radio or use voice control, if they learn the proper commands.
The Fusion Hybrid is an easy traveler, with decent spirit in most driving situations. The combined engine-electric system delivers 188 horsepower but it feels like more.
Sadly, the real-world fuel mileage was just 26.9 mpg with much pedal-to-the-metal driving.
Most impressive in the test car was the seamless way the engine and electric power worked together.
Already a quiet car, the Fusion Hybrid became super quiet when the electric power was on by itself, powering the car. The only annoyance was a slight high-pitch whine from the electric motor.
This hybrid car also conserves fuel by shutting down the engine at stoplights and other situations. There was no hesitancy or feeling that the car was going to stall when the engine started back up on its own.
Power comes from the same 2-liter, double overhead cam, inline four cylinder with Atkinson cycle engine that's in the new, fuel-efficient Ford C-Max.The engine is mated to an 88-kilowatt electric motor and battery pack — all of which automatically deliver and store power as needed. The driver doesn't do anything but drive.
As a bonus, Ford includes the same "brake coach" that's in the C-Max to give drivers feedback on whether their brake application is collecting and retaining as much regenerative power as possible.
A small display in the instrument panel tells instantly how much braking energy was recouped in a just-finished stop.
Ford's Fusion: A Hybrid Done Right Despite Electronic Glitches
Lawrence Ulrich finds the Fusion Hybrid's profusion of electronics glitchy.
NY Times 03 Nov 2012
Electronic technology can be a double-edge sword, as Ford might attest after recent close shaves. The automaker’s glitchy Sync and MyFord Touch infotainment systems — co-developed, unsurprisingly, with Microsoft — have provoked jeremiads from consumers and critics and have contributed to the brand’s steep drop in consumer reliability ratings.
Now comes Ford hybrid technology that dazzles, even as its user interfaces continue to baffle. The 2013 Fusion Hybrid has the most robust, transparent and enjoyable hybrid system I’ve tested in a nonluxury automobile.
This gas-electric Ford also starts at a compelling $27,995, though my fully stuffed test car came to $34,770. But the number that Ford will plaster on every highway billboard is 47 m.p.g., the federal rating in both city and highway driving. That is a new high for a midsize family sedan, leaving even the Toyota Camry Hybrid (at 43 city, 39 highway) behind at the pump.
In my test car, MyFord Touch never froze, and it seemed to work a beat faster than before. It was all so very impressive. Until, that is, electronic safety systems unrelated to MyFord Touch — the collision and lane-keeping monitors — went haywire on Route 301 near Carmel, N.Y.
First, the optional radar-based forward collision warning system (included with the $995 adaptive cruise control system) began flashing its red lights on the windshield, even when no cars or obstacles were in the same ZIP code. I counted about 20 false alarms over a long drive.
Next, the camera-based lane-keeping monitor, which can vibrate the steering wheel to nudge daydreaming pilots and even impart wheel resistance to restore the proper path, began beeping or failing to beep unpredictably. That system is part of a $1,000 Driver Assist Package, whose other main feature is a monitor that alerts drivers to traffic in blind spots or crossing from the rear.
In the final indignity, the Fusion’s MyKey system, unbidden so far as I could tell, decided to limit the car’s top speed to 80 m.p.h. and restricted the audio system to less than half of the maximum volume. Parents can program such features into the car’s key to safeguard teenagers who don’t recognize limits or mortality.
My Fusion Hybrid had become futuristic in a way Ford hadn’t planned, seizing my ship like the mutinous HAL in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
The safety monitors eventually gave up, displaying malfunction messages. At that point, I noted the odometer: the Fusion had traveled just 1,854 miles and still had a tang of new-car smell.
Having suffered other technical issues with recent Fords, my message to the company requires no chips or software, just a Sharpie with which I would scrawl this: Get your electronic house in order, Ford, before your reputation becomes as inoperable as your systems.
The electronic hijinks are a particular shame because in other respects the Fusion Hybrid sent the opposite message: that Ford’s sophisticated hybrid technology bows to no one.
Compared with the departing model, this Hybrid mates a smaller, stingier gas engine with a more powerful electric motor. That motor is housed within an impressively compact, seamless, continuously variable transmission. That transmission, being made in-house at a Detroit area plant, replaces a unit previously sourced from Japan. It will power a range of Detroit-made hybrids and plug-ins, including C-Max wagons and Lincoln MKZ Hybrids.
The 2-liter, 141-horsepower engine pairs with an electric traction motor for total system power of 188 horses.
The robust power unit — delivering 117 pound-feet of instant torque — lets the Fusion go as fast as 62 miles per hour on electricity alone, up from 47 m.p.h. previously — another record for any hybrid. That lets the Ford spend more travel time on its lithium-ion battery, bolstering efficiency.
And unlike many hybrids, the Fusion isn’t a chore to drive. It’s not the fastest sedan, but it’s never stingy or tentative with power. You can tell it’s a hybrid, yet the steering is surprisingly weighty and natural. The brake pedal is a model for other hybrids, transitioning smoothly from its electric-regenerative function to mechanical stopping power.
The battery steals some trunk space; the Hybrid has 12 cubic feet compared with 16 for other Fusions. The fuel tank shrinks as well, to 13.5 gallons versus 17.5 for gas-only models with front-wheel drive.
The Hybrid also integrates four driver-selectable data screens, including sprouting green leaves, to coach drivers to fuel-saving heights.
I piled up my own leaves, but couldn’t match those eye-popping estimates. Yet a light foot kept the Ford between 41 and 45 m.p.g. even in town.
Come spring, Ford will cap the midsize lineup with the Fusion Energi, a plug-in hybrid whose gas-equivalent economy rating should top 100 m.p.g.e., surpassing the less-roomy Toyota Prius plug-in and the Chevrolet Volt.
This strong, wide-ranging Fusion lineup could still be a momentum booster for Ford, which has enjoyed a postrecession run of sales and consumer buzz. Let’s hope that electronic hiccups aren’t a buzzkill for buyers who expect reliability to match the cars’ terrific style, performance and economy.
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