I’ll focus on the gassers in this post, but do be aware there will be a review of the Hybrid (and hopefully the +Engeri even later) in the coming days.
For 2013 Ford took some very bold moves with the Fusion. Gone is the bland in style of the last generation to very marked move towards being the leading stylish entry in the segment. It paid to keep their talent close when they sold off their luxury brands a few years ago, the new Fusion has the look of a much more expensive car borrowing cues from the Aston Martin and Jag. And added bonus, in driving, especially the full tilt Titanium with AWD, you get the feel of a very refined European road car, not your typical mid-size for the masses auto. Watch out everyone this Fusion is loaded for bear in the segment.
For 2013 the Fusion picked up nearly 4″ more wheelbase while adding only fractional changes in the width, height and total length. That wheelbase change alone changed up the driving dynamics of the car and improved the ride at the same time. Not that the last generation was a slouch in that category (I know as I own a 2010 Milan Premiere with the handling package) but its handling and ride are very European, controlled yet not harsh. Plush without being sloppy about it like say a Camry.
The interior is significantly upgraded compared to the last generation. Standard across the board is the much maligned Ford MyTouch. I like it, don’t find it hard to use, if you do maybe you might want to consider avoiding an Iphone or PC as those may be too complicated for you to use. Whether from the touch screen, steering wheel commands or from the redundant buttons its all good in my book.
There are multiple gassers to chose from. With the “S” there is the standard naturally aspirated 2.5L four, this will be the car found primarily in the rental fleets or as the odd loss leader for the bigger dealers. The volume model “SE” will use the 1.6L Ecoboost that generates similar horsepower as the 2.5, but with slightly better torque. Available on the 1.6 L is the Stop/Start function that boosts MPG’s by 10%. The SEL introduces the availability of the 2.0L Ecoboost, with that engine being standard on the top of the line Titanium model. MPG averages for all models is firmly in the 20′s, with low 30′s possible on the highway. Full engine and mpg stats here on the Ford site.
2013 Fusion Titanium AWD. What a charmer this one is, and it ought to be with its price point over 30K. The fit and finish as well as choice of materials in the interior is second to none in the class. Standard on this model is the pretty marvelous 2.oL Ecoboost generating 24o horsepower, the same as the outgoing V6. Driving it with the AWD doing its job there is no noticeable turbo lag once you are underway. There is nominal lag when you step on it from a standing stop to get to freeway speed. The Titanium I drove had mutliple tech goodies such as collision warning, lane departure and blind spot warning all of which came into play at some point or another during my half hour mix of driving in the South Bay area of L.A. The first time they went off scared the crap out of me, but in all I have to admit I really liked them once I got used to them. The tech goodies are certainly class leading and matched by only one competitor (Honda’s newly redone Accord which is a pretty nice car in and of itself).
2013 Ford Fusion SE with Stop/Start. This is a pretty slick package. The model I had was trimmed out with the optional leather and it was really nicely done. Handling was nearly as nice as the Titanium, certainly no noticeable difference in normal city driving. The stop/start function first time it happened startled me on the re-start as there was a noticeable throb in the drive train and steering wheel when it kicked back on. Not as bad as some of the others brands out there, but maybe they could refine more so it is as seemless as the on/off of the gas engine in their hybrids. There was turbo lag when starting from a standing start to get on the freeway. It however was not present once you were underway. The slick 6 speed automatic did a good job of changing gears as needed to maximize the available power or power demand of the driver.
Ford Fusion SE 6 Speed Manual. Yes, you read that right, the Fusion has a model for those who like to row their own gears. This is the sleeper of the Fusions and in my not so humble, probably the most fun to drive of the lot. The model I drove had the standard fabric interior, not my favorite choice, but not objectionable nor that different than what others in the class are doing, at least it wasn’t mouse fur that was the de rigueur not that long ago for mid-sizers. But enough of the non-driving stuff. Driving this car is where you really see the difference in this generation compared to the last. It is a blast to drive, turbo lag becomes non-existent, the ability to pick and chose your gears adds to the fun. Driving it you really notice the change in handling as well compared to the last generation. This is the mid-sizer to consider if you want a manual. ITS that much fun.
The Elephant in the Room. What hasn’t seen much discussion in the magazines and blogs I have read is Ford’s decision to drop the V6 option and go with only 4′s. Yes, I understand their market research and desire to be best fuel economy in the class, BUT dropping the V6 option, whether it be the 3.0 or 3.5L has divided my house. Regardless of power output, slightly better MPG’s on paper, my wife won’t have anything to do with the new Fusion as an option for replacing her Milan as it has no V6 which she feels is smoother and more instantaneous with the power output. That leaves us with the Lincoln MKZ that wisely kept a V6 (using Fords really nice 3.7L gasser). Class sales leaders Altima, Camry and Accord do incremental business with their V6 models. I think it was a mistake for Ford to drop their 6′s and play with the bottom feeders like Chevy, Kia and Hyundai that went only with 4′s for their mid-size cars. What say you on the topic?