Few would contest that the redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid is an attractively styled, and thoughtfully designed midsize family sedan.
“Ford’s launch of the new C-MAX hybrids and Fusion Hybrid this past fall led the company to deliver record-setting hybrid sales in December,” said Ford in a press release Jan. 30, 2013, “resulting in a 9 percent market share gain to 16 percent. In the same period Toyota’s share of the hybrid vehicle segment fell 8 points, from 68 percent to 60 percent.”
And, “Nearly 70 percent of new Fusion Hybrid owners are new to the Ford brand, while Toyota’s conquest rate for its Camry Hybrid is only 53 percent,” said Ford.
You can be sure there’s plenty more of the self-patting on the back where that came from.
But Ford wouldn’t do it if its new design – with smart aesthetics from every angle replete with Aston Martinesque front grille treatment – did not have the goods in place, most notably the class-leading EPA mileage rating.
Its 47 mpg city, 47 highway, 47 combined numbers are impressive. And they are also contested. The company ready to pounce on the offensive found itself soon on the defensive when Consumer Reports said there’s no way it could achieve these numbers. And then a class action lawsuit followed contesting the same.
Consumer Reports said the car is good for 41 mpg at best, but even if that is the case, that means it is still competitive with the Camry Hybrid and for that matter, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Kia Optima Hybrid, although these Korean siblings will re-launch sometime in the first or second quarter of 2013 with updates as well.
The U.S. Energy Department’s Web site does list the Fusion Hybrid’s mpg scores as 47s across the board, but the site also lists an unofficial score based on feedback from vehicle owners. These range from a low of 32 mpg to a high of 53 mpg, and an average of 39.4 mpg. These numbers are not based on the EPA cycle, so consider them just a rough guideline.
Onward and Upward
Leaving behind the ambiguities of its actual mpg potential, Ford’s new hybrid Fusion, manufactured in Hermosillo, Mexico, utilizes a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle engine comprised of an alloy block and cylinder head.
This DOHC, four-valve-per cylinder powerplant is smaller than the 2.5 in the Toyota and 2.4 in the Hyundai/Kia, and merges with a permanent magnet AC synchronous motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack.
Ford’s previous generation Fusion Hybrid also used a 2.5, but the company says smaller is better for weight savings, awhile offering nearly as much power and improved economy due to its advanced tuning and design.
Total system power is rated at 188 horsepower for the 3,615-pound car. The car uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) which helps make good use of the available ponies. Also the updated hybrid powertrain lets the gas engine shut off at higher speeds, so short cruises on the highway can use a minimum of gasoline during these periods.
The Fusion Hybrid rides on four-wheel independent suspension, and utilizes four-channel ABS+ESC brakes which of course incorporate a regenerative capability to replenish the battery pack.
Road manners are controlled, handling is responsive with good feedback and the Fusion Hybrid gives the impression of a much smaller vehicle. Braking action however is just OK.
Ford said in redesigning the car, the Fusion Hybrid’s unitized steel body increased in strength by 10 percent.
The car also makes use of a host of technologies for convenience and safety.
One of these is active noise control that uses the audio system to cancel out unwanted powertrain noise for better fuel economy, Ford says.
Another is a Lane-Keeping System which is unique to this class of car. The Fusion Hybrid also offers adaptive cruise control which is intended to maintain proper following distance when slower traffic is detected ahead. It will make a collision warning sound, if it deems it necessary. Another is active park assist to help with the parallel parking challenged and steers the car into the spot with minimal driver input. Another is Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert warns of traffic in a driver’s blind spot, or oncoming traffic when backing out of a parking space with obstructed views.
Further standard safety features are AdvanceTrac electronic stability control, dual front airbags and front seat-mounted side airbags, adaptive restraints, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, SOS Post-Crash Alert System™ that flashes signal lights and sounds horn in the event of an accident, LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tether Anchors for Children).
In all, Ford boasts nearly 500 hybrid patents are baked into this rolling technological showcase. The Fusion is also available in regular gasoline models as is the case with its competitors, and it is available as a plug-in hybrid model as well.
Inside the five-passenger car, space is suitable for most average to above-average size people. The rear seats do fold down, which helps for the awkwardly proportioned 12-cubic-foot trunk where the batteries reside.
Driver interface is suitably tech laden as well. The optional MyFord Touch system allows you to pair a smart phone with voice recognition and navigation features displayed on its screen
The car also offers two customizable color LCD screens with the speedometer between them and displays show info hybrid owners have become accustomed to regarding fuel-efficiency and drive mode.
Base MSRP is $27,200 and tacking on features and options can net you up to and over an additional $10,000.
In all, the Fusion Hybrid is fresh, and a competitor to others in its class. Its EPA-rated mpg is likely overstated, but real-world capabilities put it in the running, and worth looking into further.