2017 Ford Fusion HybridPosted on March 27th, 2017
Eco-friendly sedan for the daily commute
By Nina Russin
Drivers who want a hybrid vehicle but don’t like the extreme aero styling of the Toyota Prius should take a careful look at the Ford Fusion. Based on the automaker’s popular midsize sedan, the Fusion adds an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack to boost fuel-efficiency. For 2017 the Fusion gets a mild exterior redesign with new front and rear fascia, additional USB ports and some important active safety technology, including autonomous braking with pedestrian detection and active park assist that automatically performs parallel and perpendicular parking maneuvers.
Base price for the SE grade test car is $26,480 excluding the $875 destination charge. Optional active safety features include active park assist ($995), adaptive cruise control ($1190), lane keeping assist and blind spot monitoring ($1,575). A hybrid luxury package adds heated front seats ($2995). Two option package discounts bring the final MSRP to $34,510.
Test drive in Southern Arizona
Over the past week I drove the Fusion Hybrid around Phoenix, Scottsdale and Chandler, Arizona as well as on rural roads through the Gila River Indian Community south of town. The sedan proved a willing companion in rush-hour traffic, on the open highway and less-travelled rural roads.
My fuel economy didn’t quite match the EPA 42 mile-per-gallon estimate, possibly because most of the driving took place on high-speed roads without a lot of stop-and-go. Unlike traditional gasoline cars, hybrids tend to get better mileage in city driving because of the engine-off feature at idle.
However, the regenerative braking feature worked just as advertised, capturing up to 89 percent of energy in my tests. I was-able-to put two hundred miles on the car using up less than half a tank of gasoline.
The two-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine and electric motor deliver 188-horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque. Since electric motors develop peak torque at extremely low speeds, acceleration off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic is excellent.
A continuously variable automatic transmission delivers nice, linear acceleration, with none of the rubber band feel some competitive units suffer from.
Visibility around the car’s perimeter is quite good. A low cowl makes it easier for small drivers to maintain a clear forward view. A tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel enables the driver to maintain a safe distance from the front airbag.
The blind spot monitoring system works quite well, illuminating LED signals when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots. I did not experience false alarms common to some of these systems: for example, when two adjacent vehicles signal to turn left at a stop light. The standard rearview camera projects a wide-angle view to the back of the vehicle when the driver shifts into reverse, eliminating blind spots under the rear glass and around the rear pillars.
The electric power steering system is nicely tuned to the car, with plenty of low-end assist for maneuverability and positive on-center response at higher speeds. A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and multi-link setup in the back, giving both rows of occupants a comfortable ride. Ford’s active noise cancellation technology eliminates engine, wind and road noise, so passengers can converse on the highway or enjoy the audio system.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the sedan in firm, linear fashion.
Keyless entry and push-button start save the driver from fumbling for the key fob. The Fusion also has Ford’s hidden keypad entry system: one of this writer’s favorite technologies because it gives both the car owner and his passengers easy access to the vehicle. As a runner and hiker sharing the sedan with fellow athletes at the trailhead, the feature comes in extremely handy.
An electric parking brake saves space inside the car as compared to a mechanical lever. Ditto for the rotary dial on the center console that controls the transmission.
Both the gauge cluster and center stack screen are easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark. A display on the gauge cluster shows the driver when regenerative braking is recapturing energy, as well as the percentage of energy recaptured. Drivers can coach themselves to be more efficient using a leaf display: the more leaves, the more efficient the driver’s behavior.
Guests visiting from out-of-town found both head and legroom in the back seats quite comfortable. Rear vents keep the back of the cabin comfortable in temperature extremes.
Second-row seats collapse in a 60/40 pattern to add interior storage space, but the location of the battery makes the trunk considerably smaller. We were-able-to squeeze in one large suitcase and a smaller duffle bag. Everything else had to go in the back seat.
The Ford Fusion hybrid comes with seven airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, SOS post-crash emergency alert, tire pressure monitoring, hill start assist and an inflator kit in lieu of a spare tire.
Ford builds the Fusion Hybrid at its Hermosillo, Mexico assembly plant.
Like: A versatile, fuel efficient sedan with seating for five passengers and a high level of available active safety features.
Dislike: Limited trunk space.
Model: Fusion Hybrid SE
Base price: $26,480
As tested: $34,510
Horsepower: 188 HP @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 129 lbs.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 43/41 mpg city/highway