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  • 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

    Posted on May 27th, 2009 ninarussin

    Mid-sized sedan yields 40 mile-per-gallon fuel economy

    By Nina Russin

    2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

    2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

    When Ford execs at last year’s LA Auto show predicted that the new Fusion Hybrid would outperform the competition, there was a collective sigh from the audience. Journalists tend to shy away from blanket statements; the fact that the Ford press conference followed several earlier announcements making similar claims didn’t help.

    Last month, a team of Ford engineers and professional drivers traveled over 1400 miles in a Fusion Hybrid on a single tank of gas. The record-setting road trip set tongues wagging. Doubting Thomases though we may be, journalists love to be proved wrong. The team averaged over 80 miles-per-gallon in the Fusion: almost twice the EPA estimate.

    This week, I had the opportunity to get behind the wheel myself. Although my eco-driving skills lag far behind the champion hyper-miler and NASCAR driver on the Ford team, I averaged 43.7 miles-per-gallon during a 70 mile test drive that was evenly divided between highways and surface streets. That’s almost five miles-per-gallon better than the EPA average, and I was running the air conditioner.

    While the Fusion lacks the cargo versatility of the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius, it should be on the short list for buyers needing an affordable, fuel-efficient sedan. Not only does the gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain yield exceptional fuel economy; it’s also user friendly.

    On-board eco-coach

    Digital displays in the gauge cluster give the driver instant and average fuel economy, serving as an eco-coach for the driver. A separate display tells the driver when the car is in pure-electric mode, and shows the state of battery charge.

    The display I found most useful is a bar graph showing average fuel economy for increments that the driver presets. I had the gauge set at two-minute intervals, giving me a 20-minute snapshot.

    When the driver turns off the ignition, a display shows the driver average fuel economy for the trip, surrounded by green leaves. The number of green leaves reflects the driver’s thriftiness.

    Refined gasoline-electric power train

    Power comes from a four-cylinder Atkinson-cycle engine rated at 156 horsepower and 106-horsepower alternating current electric motor, mated to a continuously variable transmission. Ford estimates net horsepower from the gas engine and electric motor at 191. Despite its front-wheel drive configuration, the Fusion is well balanced, front-to-rear.

    The transition between all-electric and gasoline-electric modes is invisible to the driver. Engineers attribute this to the variable cam timing on the gasoline engine. The Fusion has an electric air conditioning compressor, to cool the cabin when the gasoline engine is off.

    Since I was driving the Fusion more for fuel economy than performance, I didn’t punch the throttle to test acceleration. But the car had plenty of power in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range. I had no problem merging into high-speed traffic, or passing other cars at speed on the highway.

    Curb weight for the Fusion Hybrid is 3720 pounds: it’s significantly heavier than some competitive products. But to its credit, the Fusion doesn’t feel like a heavy car during acceleration, cornering or braking. Standard 17-inch wheels have a big enough footprint to keep the car stable on the highway.

    On the highway portion of my test drive, I was able to average between 65 and 70 miles-per-hour and still maintain 45 mile-per-hour fuel economy. On hillier surface streets, my average fuel economy was about 35 miles-per-gallon.

    The continuously variable transmission keeps the car in a low enough gear to maintain power without having a negative impact on fuel economy. A fully-independent front and rear suspension produces a compliant ride.

    A low-friction rack-and-pinion steering system provides plenty of assist at low speeds, while maintaining a positive on-center feel on the highway. The Fusion’s turning radius of 37.5 feet is small enough to make the occasional U-turn.

    Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel antilock braking stop the sedan in a firm, linear fashion. Heat energy from braking recharges the battery.

    Eco-friendly interior

    Ford Fusion Hybrid Interior

    Ford Fusion Hybrid Interior

    The Fusion’s cloth seats are made with 85 percent post-industrial recycled material. Living in the Southwest, the cloth has the additional advantage of not retaining heat. Power controls make the driver’s and front passenger seats easy to adjust. Both have adequate lower lumbar support.

    Passengers in front should find ample storage spots for magazines and portable electronic devices. The Fusion has a large glovebox, though it’s not lockable. A two-piece center console bin holds compact discs on the bottom and portable electronic devices on top.

    Redundant audio, cruise, Bluetooth and information controls on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction. The standard tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel enables smaller drivers to maintain a safe distance from the front airbag.

    A 12-volt power point at the base of the center stack recharges cell phones on the go. There is a 110-volt power point behind the center console for plugging in games or a computer.

    The front doors have map and bottle holders. There are two cupholders in the center console, and two more in a fold-down armrest in back. Both rows of passengers get overhead reading lamps. An optional power moonroof brings extra ambient light into the car.

    The same option package upgrades the standard audio to a Sony 12-speaker system. All cars come with an auxiliary port, pre-wiring for Sirius satellite radio, and Ford’s Sync system with a downloadable hard drive.

    Front passengers will find an additional covered compartment on the dash and a sunglass holder in the overhead console handy.

    Second-row seats in the outboard positions have ample leg, head and hip room. The center console limits legroom in the middle position, though it’s adequate for short trips. Since the middle seat is higher than the outboard positions, head room is also limited.

    The Fusion’s trunk, while not huge, can easily accommodate luggage, groceries or a couple of golf bags. The location of the nickel-metal hydride battery pack limits the amount of room in back.

    Standard safety

    Ford’s keypad entry system is one of my favorite features: it allows passengers to enter the car using a numeric code. Not only does it save the driver from fumbling for the key at night; it also allows multiple passengers to enter and exit the car.

    A capless fuel filler system automatically seals after refueling. It eliminates a piece of hardware on the car, and prevents fuel leaks around the filler hole that can trigger the check engine light.

    All cars come with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, electronic stability and traction control. An option package on the test car adds a blind-spot information system and rear backup camera.

    The blind spot system illuminates warning lamps in the side mirrors when it senses obstacles to the sides of the car. It’s a worthwhile investment for commuters who have to travel on congested highways.

    Base price on the Fusion Hybrid is $27,270, not including a $725 destination charge. Ford’s newest hybrid is on display at dealerships nationwide.

    Likes: An affordable midsize hybrid sedan with excellent fuel economy, ride and handling. Digital information displays are intuitive and easy to read. The available blind spot information system is a great safety feature for urban commuters.

    Dislikes: Limited trunk space.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Ford
    Model: Fusion Hybrid
    Year: 2010
    Base price: $27,270
    As tested: $29,590
    Horsepower: 156 Hp @ 6000 rpm
    Torque: 136 lbs.-ft. @ 2250 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 41/36 mpg city/highway

     

    85 responses to “2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid”

    1. I, too, was very impressed with the Fusion Hybrid. The car rode comfortably and its fit and finish were quite good. My only gripes have to do with limits to the car’s utility, on account of the battery pack’s placement in the rear seat back: not having a 60/40 fold down seat, and losing 4.7 cu. ft. of trunk space to boot give me pause.

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