2013 Ford Fusion
by John Davis
It could be argued that the 1996 Ford Taurus was the last straw for the vast majority of midsize family sedan buyers in America. After reigning as the bestselling car in the land for five years running, an all-new “oval” Taurus design sent buyers fleeing to the more conservative Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Since then, domestic brand family cars have taken a back seat to their Asian rivals. But, the 2013 model year looks to change that.
For the first time in decades, all three U.S. automakers have new family cars worthy of adoration. At Chrysler, it’s the Italian influenced Dodge Dart. At General Motors, it’s the impressively refined Chevrolet Malibu. So, what’s Ford’s contribution? Well, it’s a striking redesign of the previously uninspired Ford Fusion midsize sedan.
At first sight you know that, at least in appearance, the 2013 Ford Fusion is a winner. In fact the automotive press has been salivating over the Aston Martin-inspired design since it debuted in Detroit last January. The new Fusion is longer, although less so than appearances suggest. The extra length is put to good use with a long hood, and coupe-like four-door body that is sleek and much more intense.
Inside, everything is also well done with quality materials throughout. The cabin atmosphere is not as dynamic as the exterior, but still a big step up from the parts-bin interior of the previous Fusion.
There are three trim levels, plus a gasoline-electric Fusion Hybrid model. A plug-in hybrid Fusion Energi will follow after the first of the year. All models are well equipped with the Hybrid wearing SE trim with both SYNC and MyFord communications.
The instrument cluster follows recent Fords with a large center speedometer with message centers on either side, each controlled with steering wheel mounted 5-way switches. The first time we slid behind the wheel we were pleased with seating comfort, front and rear, although some rivals still do it better. More importantly, there is plenty of long distance room for a family of five.
The new Fusion follows the latest trend in powertrains as all engines are inline four-cylinder configuration. At the top of the fuel economy scale is the Fusion Hybrid. Its 2.0-liter-4 combines with an electric motor for a system output of 188-horsepower. Combined with a new CVT transmission, it can cruise under electric power alone up to 62 miles per hour. It is also government rated at 47 miles per gallon for City, Highway, and Combined, beating the Toyota Camry Hybrid.
More fun is the Fusion packing the 178-horsepower 1.6-liter EcoBoost I4, which comes with a standard 6-speed manual transmission. While the engine is small, power is more than adequate with the manual. A 6-speed automatic is available, and it’s standard on both the carryover base 175-horsepower 2.5-liter normally aspirated I4. The automatic adds manual shift mode on the 240-horsepower 2.0-liter Ecoboost turbo-4 that also can be ordered with all-wheel drive.
The Fusion’s blend of beauty and brains is very enticing. Even dyed-in-the-wool Camry and Accord fans will likely turn their heads to see what Motown has wrought. Time will tell if Detroit can really field great family cars once again, and if the new Fusion can replicate the success of the original Taurus. But, regardless, the 2013 Ford Fusion is proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
For our exclusive road test of the 2013 Ford Fusion, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3209 which begins airing on November 2, 2012. Click here for a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable channel.