The all-new Ford Fusion sedan with its sharp European styling and turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder engines likely surprised foreign sedan rivals such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Hyundai Sonata.
The solid-feeling Fusion is essentially a four-door family sedan, but radiates European flair because it steers, handles and brakes much like a foreign (or American) sports sedan. And the ride is supple. If you want a family sedan with pizzazz, the turbocharged EcoBoost Fusion might be for you.
The Fusion has been such a hit that it’s unchanged for 2014, except for several new color combinations and the addition of a 1.5-liter turbocharged EcoBoost engine with (a projected) 178 horsepower—the same rating as the current 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder but with slightly less torque and a little better fuel economy.
Ford is in love with its fuel-saving, horsepower-enhancing EcoBoost turbocharging system, and so apparently are many of its customers. EcoBoost engines have been ordered by 51 percent of Fusion buyers.
Many folks buy a car mainly because they like the way it looks. With an Aston Martin-style grille and slick body, the Fusion looks more expensive than it is and has an upscale interior to match.
The Fusion comes with front- or all-wheel drive (AWD). You can get a few gas-electric hybrids that start at $27,200, but regular Fusion 2013 list prices begin at $21,900.
The most desirable model is the upscale $32,200 AWD Titanium version with a 231-240 (figures vary) horsepower EcoBoost 2-liter four-cylinder. This is the model I tested. With front-drive, it lists at $30,200.
The turbocharged 2-liter EcoBoost has dual overhead camshats, four valves per cylinder, direct fuel injection and twin-independent variable camshaft timing.
My test car engine had no turbocharger lag and provided lively in-town performance and fast 65-80 mph. passing times on highways. No wonder this smooth, generally quiet engine is such a “little giant.” It’s dual horizontal exhaust outlets contributed to the Euro look.
The 191.7-inch-long Fusion comes in S, SE and Titanium trim levels. It also can be had with a non-turbo 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 175 horsepower or a 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder with 178 horsepower and more torque than the 2.5 engine. The four-cylinder gas/electric hybrid has a combined 188 horsepower.
Transmissions are a 6-speed manual or a responsive six-speed automatic.The 2-liter EcoBoost six-speed automatic comes with a manual-shift feature that’s easy to work.
The Titanium AWD EcoBoost has estimated fuel economy of 22 miles per gallon city and 31 highway. Other Fusion models have estimated economy numbers in the low- to mid-20s in the city and low to high 30s on highways, except for the hybrid model; it has an EPA-rated, likely optimistic 47 miles per gallon combined city/highway rating.
The Fusion has all the standard safety features one would expect, including lots of air bags and side curtains, and the Titanium model has a standard backup camera. Its uptown features including a premium sound system, heated front power leather seats and dual-zone climate control.
Also available for the Fusion are a lane-keeping system, active park assist, blind-spot information system, cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and navigation system.
The quiet interior has a rather large space-eating console, but the interior is generally roomy. It’s easy to enter because there are large outside handles and wide door openings, both front and rear. Small touches include dual lights for the sun visors and rear windows that lower all the way.
Driver vision is good and outside rear view mirrors fold to prevent parking lot damage. The cabin has good materials with comfortable soft-touch areas, and both front and rear seats are supportive. However, shorter rear adult occupants may feel they sit too low. Front cupholders are easy to reach, and rear ones are in a large fold-down center armrest.
There are a good number of cabin storage areas, including a deep covered front console bin, dual-level glove compartment and pockets/bottle holders in all doors.
Gauges can be quickly read, even in bright sunlight, and I found controls easy to work. The large driver’s footrest next to the brake pedal will be comfortable on lengthy drives.
The lined trunk lid raises on twin struts, but doesn’t go up high enough. I banged my head on the lid several times. Perhaps it’s got an adjustable height feature I overlooked. Curiously, there’s an interior pull-down feature on the left side of the lid. That’s fine for left-handers, but it really should be on the more conveniently situated right side.
The large trunk has a wide but moderately high opening, and rear seatbacks flip forward to increase cargo room. The pass-through area between the trunk and rear-seat area is large.
The heavy hood is held open with a prop rod, instead of more convenient hydraulic struts, and you could make bets that most people unfamiliar with the car will grope a lot before finding the outside hood release. Fluid filler areas can be easily reached.
Those who need a sedan’s convenience, but want driving enjoyment and aren’t hung up on foreign nameplates should give the Fusion EcoBoost a try.
Pros: Stylish. Roomy. Lively with Ecoboost engine. Agile handling. Supple ride. Nice interior. Available all-wheel drive.
Cons: Rear adult occupants sit low. Limited trunk lid movement. Just a prop rod for heavy hood.
Bottom Line: A game-changer that’s above-average in most respects.
Dan Jedlicka has been an automotive journalist for more than 40 years. To read more of his new and vintage car reviews, visit: www.danjedlicka.com.