Astounding fuel economy from Ford’s excellent Fusion. But is it worth the price premium?
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Pricing: 2017 Ford Fusion
Base price (Energi SE trim): $35,088
Options: $450 Ruby Red paint; $1,250 moonroof; $600 active park assist; $100 block heater; $150 floor mats; $800 navigation; $700 18″ premium wheels; $200 3M paint protection; $1,650 driver assist package
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $42,738
Under the Hood
Since this is what really sets this particular Fusion apart, I thought I’d dig into this first. This is the Energi trim, which is the plug-in hybrid. It’s the same hybrid drivetrain, pairing a 2.0L inline-4 with an electric motor for a combined horsepower rating of 188.
The difference is the high-capacity 7.6 kWh battery, versus the puny 1.4 kWh one in the regular hybrid. Plug it in (how many hours it takes for a full charge depends on what plug you’re using – obviously a normal household plug will take the longest) and you can travel up to 30 km on electric power before starting to dip into your fuel tank. I easily completed my 20 km commute with battery power to spare – if I had a way to top the battery up at work, I’d never need to use gas to commute. The plug is just ahead of the driver’s door behind a swing-away round cover that has a nifty LED light ring around it. It lights up and fills up the circle to show you how much the battery has charged. If you see a full circle of blue LEDs, it’s fully charged.
The car is front-wheel drive and the power is handled by a CVT transmission.
Ford rates the Energi at 2.4 Le/100 km for the combined fuel economy when driving it as an electric vehicle and as a hybrid, and at 5.6 L/100 km when driving hybrid only. I averaged an astounding 3.8 L/100 km during my week with it. I would drive as an EV until the battery died, then run it as a hybrid for the balance of the day, then plug it in only at night.
There’s nothing new here. The Fusion has been with us for a while, and it did get a mild refresh a couple of years ago. It’s still a great-looking car, but it no longer stands out in the crowd.
The Energi SE has LED headlights and tail lights, as well as the LED signature driving lights, and mine had 18-inch wheels completing the package.
The interior is a decent place to be. Materials are mostly soft-touch, although they no longer have a premium feel to them. The design works pretty well and everything is within reach.
We found the heated leather seats comfortable. Fusion’s rotary gear selector dial works well and reacts quickly enough. Ford’s excellent SYNC 3 system is front and centre, handling your navigation, phone and the excellent sound system. Comfort is arranged by the dual-zone automatic climate control system, and there’s a standard-size sunroof overhead.
Check off the same option boxes as my Fusion had and you’ll get a solid set of driver assistance technologies – a backup camera with parking sensors, blind-spot detection, lane keeping system and active park assist.
The two outboard seats in the back provided just enough head room for me – at 5’10” – but I had more than enough leg room. There’s a small tunnel in the centre – the raised and somewhat narrow middle seating position gets a bit cramped when it comes to accommodating a third adult. Rear passengers get air vents, a 12V and a 110 V household plug for charging. My three kids were quite happy with the space back there.
Here’s one of the big drawbacks of the Energi trim. While the cabin sports all the same nooks and crannies to put your stuff, the trunk suffers greatly. That giant battery has to go somewhere, and here it ends up in the trunk, leaving only 232L of cargo space. That’s not a lot. And it is significantly less than a normal Fusion offers. You won’t be taking the family on road trips in the Energi.
Like other Fusions, the Energi trim is a smooth operator. It’s responsive enough around town, although not like the purely gas-powered ones, and it holds its own in every driving situation. It feels like a full-fledged car in electric mode. When the battery is charged, you’ll be covering up to about 30 km or so in absolutely ideal circumstances. I tended to get about 22-24 km out of the battery during slow, city-based commuting.
It handles well, but the portly 3986 lb (1808 kg) curb weight is noticeable when you sling it into a corner. The ride is outstanding and very impressive.
I found the Energi to be delightfully quiet, owing mostly to the electric motor. When the gas engine is called upon and the revs go up, it’s a bit noisy. But otherwise Ford has done a very good job at keeping things very quiet.
The regenerative braking is grabby and then mushy – as one would expect from a hybrid.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was high and low. She really liked how it drove and loved how smoothly it performed. But she said the cabin feels a bit out of date and very dark.
Ford tells us the Fusion presents us with the Power of Choice. And they aren’t kidding. There are 12 different models of Fusion to choose from. The Energi reviewed here is the most efficient of them all. And it’s a great car. But it’s not the one I’d choose. The additional cost, and the lack of rebate in my home province, make it an expensive proposition and although it would likely eventually pay for itself, the difference isn’t worth the up-front investment to me. If I was in for a substantial rebate from my province, that might be different. But as it sits, I’d likely opt for the regular hybrid if I was after efficiency. But if I was buying the Fusion for myself, I’d opt for the incredibly rewarding combination of the 2.0L EcoBoost and all-wheel drive in the Titanium trim. It’s got all the performance I need (although the juicy Sport trim is awesome!) and it saves me money.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Ford Canada.
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