Ford Fusion Hybrid

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When a Fusion Hybrid arrived in the press fleet recently, we were excited for a chance to drive it.

The Fusion engine lineup is large with two EcoBoost (turbocharged) four-cylinders, one naturally aspirated four-cylinder, a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid.

Our test car was the Ford Fusion SE Hybrid. We won’t waste words by trying to describe the styling, everyone has seen it on the road and suffice to say it’s very good looking and distinctive in its class of mid-size sedans.

The Ford Focus Hybrid is available in three trim levels, S, SE and Titanium. The base model has a conventional array of buttons and knobs on the center stack, but upper level models have the clean look of touch controls that simply require a light brush from a finger.

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Barbara always seems to have difficulty with these controls, never knowing whether to touch with the face of her finger or the nail. The clean surface of the control panel certainly looks good laid out below the optional large MyFordTouch controls, but like with new technologies, there’s a slight learning curve. We do like how the center stack slopes out from the dash to provide easier access; it adds to the cockpit feel.

The interior has a high quality look with its upper surfaces covered in soft touch materials. However, we did think the interior has an overabundance of brushed metal looking trim on the steering wheel, dash, center stack and door panels.

Focus seats are simple and comfortable, and the rear seats are quite roomy too. Rear seat access is a little tight due to the sweeping roofline, but not enough to be a problem except for larger or older passengers. The cargo space takes a hit from the Lithium-Ion battery pack, which uses up about four-cubic feet of the space. That means you can carry one less piece of medium size piece of luggage. That leaves about 12 cubic feet and unlike many other hybrids, the rear seat backs of the Focus fold down to handle longer items.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid is powered by a 141-hp 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine, with assistance from an 88 kW electric motor which gets power from a 1.4 kWh air cooled Lithium-Ion battery pack. The transmission is an electronically controlled eCVT (continuously variable transmission) which drives the front wheels.

The drivetrain works together to produce 0 to 60 mph acceleration times of 8.0 seconds. The electric motor will also work independently power the Fusion Hybrid up to 62 MPG on the battery alone. The most impressive numbers are the EPA ratings of 47 MPG city and 47 MPG highway. Our actual average mileage as indicated by the trip computer was 42.1 MPG. We probably would have done even better if we didn’t live at the top of the hill and Barbara had spent more time in the driver’s seat.

To get these great numbers Fusion engineers called on fuel saving features like a special air conditioning compressor that draws energy from the battery pack, electric power steering and electric water pumps. The battery charges from regenerative braking which is able to capture up to 95 percent of the energy normally lost in braking.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid takes advantage of many of the innovative new technologies with available features like the Blind Spot Lane Information System with cross traffic alert, Lane Keep Assist, adaptive cruise control, active park assist and MyFordTouch.

It’s fun to peek at the two color screens mounted on either side of the speedometer for instant updates on your fuel saving progress, battery charge and power usage. On the right hand screen, economical driving is rewarded with more green leaves.

On the road the Ford Fusion SE Hybrid is mild mannered with a smooth quiet ride more suited for a freeway cruise than a romp through the mountains. The car feels precise and even agile, negotiating confidently through crowded streets and parking lots. Not best suited for high speed passing of slow moving trucks, the Fusion Hybrid provides average passing power, but what it does best is pass by gas stations with its 600 mile plus range.

Pricing for the three Fusion Hybrid models ranges from $26,995 for the S to $27,995 for the SE and $33,295 for the Titanium. For shoppers wanting to go the plug-in route, Ford has one of those, too, called the Fusion Energi SE. It extends the electric-only range significantly and as a result, the fuel economy numbers go up to 108 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) city and 92 MPGe highway. Better fuel economy numbers cost more though — $39,495.

The plug-in might be a tough sell now with Toyota making a major price reduction recently of their Prius plug-in hybrid to try to stir more interest in the battery alternatives.

Ford certainly has the bases loaded with Fusion variations. We found the Hybrid version to provide an engaging experience, with a combination of good looks and high fuel economy while still being enjoyable to drive. The Ford Fusion Hybrid does fulfill its mission very well without having to shout, “I’m a hybrid.”

— Courtesy of Auto Digest

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