I admit it. I don’t like American cars. I try and give a look at various models at auto shows, looking for something to turn my head, or make me feel something/anything, but more times than not, American cars leave me cold.
Part of me feels so shameful for this. I think about the jobs that could be secured, the pride I’m missing out on, the heritage of so many American automobile brands – but then I sit in one or actually drive one, and I’m so bored, so very very bored.
Add to that the country’s energy crisis and squawks about fuel efficiency and cost of ownership, and I feel determined to do something about the state of my country’s economy, and my own wallet.
The leading gasoline electric hybrid automobile has been the Toyota Prius, available in the US now for some 13 years. But whether your observations stem from the fact they are usually slugging along in the right lane, creeping in front of you in your community, or damn near running you over at a crosswalk because you can’t hear it coming, the Prius has had a difficult time winning auto lovers over.
What’s not to hate? The Prius is pretty darn ugly, they’re slow, and the seemingly strangely cocky attitude of their owners makes one want to tell them to “go and enjoy your own party – alone”.
But how can I make such comments? I’ve never driven one!
Recently, I’ve taken notice that Ford has been producing some pretty nice looking cars. And their sedan, the Fusion, introduced in 2006 was joined with an electric/gasoline hybrid model in 2009. The early 2009/2010 models had bland interior styling, but the current 2013/2014 models just ooze in style.
Sleek details in the Fusion’s cabin should appeal to younger audiences, who embrace technology as well as yearn for luxury touches. The Fusion’s seats are supportive and roomy, with comfortable armrests and a relaxed driving position. The cockpit is very modern, with blue-lit accent lighting and an available Sony hi-fi system in select trim packages. The gauge cluster is awash in customizable graphic themes, giving a nod to current efficiency via a unique “leaf” image on the right, while the left shows reclaimed energy and how driving style affects the current MPG rating.
The EPA sticker lists the car should get 47 MPG city and 47 MPG highway. In my test drive, I observed 29-31 MPG. I was told by the salesman that less accessories being on affects overall energy consumption. Many of these high fuel ratings are based on ideal circumstances: low weight in the car, perfect tire inflation, smooth roads, no wind, but the real world mileage is often numbers that are far less. My salesman assured me he got as good as 41 MPG but that was with no lights on, no radio, no fan, and conservative driving on a smooth road.
The ride quality is excellent, good road feel as well as supple bump absorption and would make a long road trip quite tolerable. Passenger space is very good. The trunk is adequate in that there is a half-height wedge for the battery taking up half the trunk, but duffel bags could still be placed upon this “shelf”. There is still ample room for 8 average grocery store bags.
The handling of the Fusion is actually quite nice. The 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine gives ample acceleration from say an on-ramp onto a major highway. If passing power is needed, the engine revs to make the torque needed but passing won’t happen all too quickly. Even still, the engine does not feel over taxed when pushing for some passing power, and the car succeeds in its mission…eventually.
Overall, I was very impressed with the Fusion. It has handsome exterior looks, a stylish interior, comfortable seats, and surprisingly adequate handling. Add in the 30-40 MPG efficiency and it’s a solid contender for a replacement vehicle, whether you are specifically seeking a hybrid or not. Base “S” model starts at $26,000 while an option loaded “Titanium” trim can set you back about $33,500. Options reserved for higher level cars, such as heated seats or blind spot monitoring are standard in the Titanium package. Ford even plans ventilated seats for this model in early 2014.
The Ford Fusion is definitely one impression changing vehicle and is worth a look next time you are in the market for a comfortable, compliant, fuel efficient vehicle without owner embarrassment.