2014 Ford FusionPosted on November 17th, 2014
Midsize sedan connects with the driver
By Nina Russin
Thank the most competitive segment in the passenger car market for ending the era of the rolling refrigerator. If car dealers want their midsized sedans to roll off the showroom floor, the cars need sizzle. I’m not just referring to appearance here. Being smart is just as important.
Car owners want to feel connected to the vehicles they drive: simply put, they want to have fun. But in the post-2008 economic recovery, they must also be practical, thinking carefully about price and cost of ownership. The 2014 Ford Fusion delivers on both fronts. The addition of a 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine for the current model year nudges the model forward.
Pricing for the test car starts at $23,935 excluding the $825 delivery charge. Standard convenience features include 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, satellite radio, Ford Sync, a tilt steering wheel with redundant audio and cruise control buttons, MyKey and a ten-way power driver’s seat. There are a few options: start/stop, a reverse sensing system and rear inflatable seatbelts, bringing the final MSRP to $27,890.
Stretching the range between fill-ups
The most obvious difference between the current Fusion and models from several years back is fuel economy. EPA gave the new four-cylinder engine a 37 mile-per-gallon highway fuel economy rating. The optional start/stop feature that shuts the engine off when the car is stopped at a traffic light boosts its range even further.
For the first two days of my weeklong test drive I covered about 130 miles of urban and rural surface roads plus highways in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area. On the second day I finished up at the beginning of the evening rush hour, so I spent some time sitting in traffic. I used up four gallons of gasoline, translating to 32.5 miles-per-gallon. That’s pretty good, considering my notorious lead foot.
Turbocharging makes it fun
Fuel economy won’t sell a car that can’t get out of its own way. The pint-sized EcoBoost has a surprising amount of power for such a small block. Direct injection enhances throttle response while turbocharging makes the engine’s 177 foot-pounds of peak torque available at 1500 rpm: a tip of the throttle.
The car is pretty light with a curb weight of about 3400 pounds, so the power-to-weight ratio is decent. Acceleration in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic is solid. I had no problems finding my way to the front of the pack on two-lane entrance ramps.
On the Bush Highway east of town I passed slower vehicles several times with no problem, and found the four-wheel independent suspension quite nimble. Stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat in the corners.
There’s a slight hesitation from the electric power steering system at higher speeds but the driver will not feel disconnected from the wheels. Emergency evasive maneuvers are not a problem.
Convex inserts in the side mirrors make it easier to monitor multiple lanes on the highway: a handy feature when the driver tries to weave through dense traffic. I had no problem adjusting the driver’s seat for good forward visibility and despite the lack of a rearview camera, felt quite comfortable backing out of parking spots in crowded parking lots. The optional reverse sensing system is helpful.
Engineers did a good job of minimizing road, wind and engine noise intrusion to the interior so passengers in both rows of seats can converse or enjoy the audio system.
Although the Fusion is not a luxury car, the interior is nicely equipped. I found the driver’s seat comfortable for several hours at a time with good support from the adjustable lumbar feature. The air conditioner did a good job of cooling down the interior on an eighty-degree afternoon. Rear air vents keep second-row passengers comfortable during temperature extremes.
Both the center stack display and gauge cluster are easy to read in bright sunlight. Controls on the center stack and steering wheel are logically arranged to minimize driver distraction.
Optional inflatable seat belts are a great addition for parents using booster seats for kids in the back. The seat belts expand during a collision to cover a larger portion of the occupant’s chest, reducing the risk for injury to the rib cage.
Rear seats fold flat to extend the cargo floor, making the Fusion capable of carrying larger items such as skis or snowboards.
The Ford Fusion comes with front, side, side curtain, driver and front passenger knee airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, an electronic parking brake and tire pressure monitoring.
The external keypad enables multiple passengers to enter the car using a numeric code. It’s one of my favorite features when sharing the sedan with fellow runners at the trailhead.
The factory warranty includes five years of roadside assistance: up to 60,000 miles.
The Fusion is on display at Ford dealerships nationwide.
Like: A fun-to-drive, fuel-efficient midsize sedan. The Fusion is a lot of car for the money.
Base price: $23,935
As tested: $27,890
Horsepower: 178 Hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 177 lbs.-ft. @ 1500 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 25/37 mpg city/highway
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