The Fusion, since its complete redesign in 2013, has been a very impressive vehicle.
The updated 2017 Fusion improves on much of this, and raises the bar even higher.
Ford brought me to B.C. to spend some time with the revamped Fusion and see what all the fuss is about.
While we tend to think of Camrys and Accords as the best-sellers in this category, the Ford Fusion is actually the best-selling mid-size sedan in its segment. There has been a lot to love about the Fusion, particularly in this last generation. Ford told us that its owners love the design, the performance, the technology, the availability of all-wheel drive (a surprisingly rare option in this category) and what Ford loves to call the “Power of Choice”. This refers to the remarkable amount of powertrain options available – you can pick from a 2.5 4-cylinder, a 1.5-, 2.0- or a 2.7-litre EcoBoost (more about this one later), a hybrid or a plug-in Energi hybrid.
The refreshed 2017 Fusion comes to the table with a new level of refinement, improved comfort and ergonomics, increased storage (40% more storage space around the cabin) and an evolved design, inside and out.
Since the current Fusion sports an already-distinctive design, Ford chose to go with a more evolutionary approach for this revision. The front and rear end both received tweaks. The new Fusion looks a touch more aggressive and appears to have a wider stance, although dimensions haven’t changed, and the new diamond LED headlight styling is very nice.
Inside, you’ll find more premium materials and finishes and a brand-new centre stack. That increased storage I mentioned earlier is a huge improvement. I loved the “media bin” with a 12V and smart USB plug at the front of the console, and the phone bin behind it. A major change that is immediately noticeable is the new rotary gear selector dial. It saves a ton of space obviously, and it feels well put together – not jiggly and too loose like some other ones in the industry. I won’t mention any offenders’ names but it rhymes with Shmysler.
The Fusion’s available suite of driver-assistance technologies has grown up too. Cruise control can be adaptive, including stop-and-go tech; the park assist is enhanced to include parallel and perpendicular parking now; there’s an available lane-keeping system with alerts and assist and a pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection. And the tech isn’t just safety-related – SYNC Connect allows users to lock, unlock, locate and start their Fusions using their smartphones. Pretty sweet!
Ford’s new SYNC3 touchscreen is excellent. The capacitive screen is very responsive and the layout and user interface is well-designed. It manages everything from phone and sound system (including the available, totally awesome Sony system) and navigation functions.
Overall, the new Fusion drive was engineered to be quieter. To experience the newfound sound dampening qualities, as well as the improved overall driving experience, we drove our Fusions from the Vancouver airport out to Harrison Hot Springs, a tony little resort town at the south end of the massive Harrison Lake. Ride, handling and steering have all been improved and the car feels more connected, agile and responsive than ever before. While retaining a very smooth, European-feeling ride that will soak up virtually everything. Ford has done a stellar job on the Fusion’s suspension in the past, and it just got better.
To top it all off, Ford is introducing two new ways to get your Fusion. If those new premium materials I noted earlier piqued your interest, check out the new Platinum trim which really takes the craftsmanship in the Fusion to new levels. You’ll enjoy stunning quilted leather (heated and cooled) seats – which are very comfortable – and door panels. The dash is wrapped in stitched cocoa leather which looks and feels fantastic – the same goes for the hand-wrapped steering wheel finished in Venetian leather. The finishing touches are the beautiful open-pore wood trim pieces. Sitting in the Platinum is a pretty luxurious experience, and the cabin has a significantly more premium feel than the already-nice lower-trim Fusion cockpits. All driver assistance technology is included in the Platinum trim, as are beautiful 19-inch rims and a unique sport grille. This trim is available on 2.0 EcoBoost, hybrid and Energi hybrid models.
I got pretty excited about the new Sport model too. It has Ford’s 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine with 325 hp and 380(!) lb.ft of torque on tap and comes with all-wheel drive as standard equipment. And as if the Fusion’s suspension wasn’t already great, the Sport comes with continuously variable damping. The exterior gets its share of aggressive upgrades too – deeper air intakes, a gloss-black mesh grille, 19-inch rims and a rear spoiler and some mean-looking quad exhausts. They’re not just for show – sport mode will alter the exhaust note to get louder and more aggressive.
Ford said the Fusion hybrids get a more refined driving experience and better regenerative braking – that refers to how efficient the braking energy recovery is. I’ll chime in to say the brakes are still spongy and grabby (as is typical on nearly all hybrids). The hybrids can travel at up to 130 km/h on electric power only which is amazing.
Ford added a new feature called EcoCruise, which directs the car to intelligently use cruise control. It will maintain the same speed, but will accelerate and decelerate as efficiently as possible to save the most fuel. We drove the Energy plug-in hybrid for one leg of our tour and averaged 3.6 L/100 km driving the 143 km from Harrison Hot Springs to the Vancouver airport. Ford started us with a 100% charged battery which equals up to a 35 km all-electric range. Of course, once your Energi runs out of electric power, it reverts to a fully functional hybrid, and with a full gas tank, you can expect a range of up to 980 km from this ride. There’s no range anxiety here, yet you get an all-electric mode that can handle many people’s daily commutes. That makes this trim an outstanding choice for urban warriors that want to get out on the highway too. The Energi’s battery can be plugged into any household plug, but if you upgrade to the 240 volt charging system, it only takes 2.5 hours for a full charge. When it comes to driving, it’s very smooth but the power still seems a bit weak-kneed on the hybrid models. The CVT will often send the gas engine revving very high, which makes a lot of noise and still takes a second or two to get things moving. With that said, it’s adequate power for nearly any driving situation. Unfortunately, the trunk space is truly awful in Energi. The hybrid loses some space, but the bigger battery in the Energi makes the trunk all but useless. We were unable to fit more than one carry-on bag and one big man-bag in there.
If you want some specifics regarding fuel economy, here you go – all ratings are city/highway L/100 km. The base 2.5L engine gets rated at 11.3/7.5. The most efficient of the gas engines, the 1.5 EcoBoost is rated at 10.0/7.0. The 2.0 EcoBoost ranges from 11.2/7.6 for the front-wheel drive to 11.8/8.1 for the all-wheel drive model. And the top-dog, the new 2.7 EcoBoost, is going to set you back a bit at 13.5/9.0 – hey, that kind of power doesn’t come free. The hybrids are a whole different story – the base hybrid gets rated a 5.5/5.7 and the plug-in hybrid can apparently achieve as good as 2.4 L/100 km when including the electric-only driving. For the record, that’s twice as efficient as basically any other hybrid.
Pricing ranges from $23,688 for the Fusion S all the way up to $45,088 for the Platinum Energi hybrid. The Sport comes in at $42,288.
Disclosure: Ford paid for my airfare, accommodations, meals and fuel and provided the vehicles for this test drive event.
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