The Ford Fusion is comfortable, roomy, detailed, high-tech, athletic, and last but not least striking. It looks like an Aston Martin, as intended. Even in a NASCAR field, its racy face emerges. Fusion competes with Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Chevrolet Malibu and other midsize sedans.
Plenty of powertrains are available for the Fusion: three four-cylinder engines plus a hybrid gas-electric version and a plug-in hybrid.
The standard engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that doesn’t quite live up to the Fusion’s dynamic profile or, for that matter, its name. The main attraction here is price. Rated at 175 horsepower, the 2.5-liter comes with a 6-speed automatic and gets an EPA-estimated 22/34 mpg City/Highway, or 26 Combined miles per gallon.
Stepping up to the 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder brings slightly more performance and slightly better fuel economy, with 185 horsepower and 23/36 mpg City/Highway or 28 mpg Combined, or 25/37 mpg with the Stop-Start feature, 29 mpg Combined.
A more powerful 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder brings 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque and is rated 22/33 mpg with front-wheel drive, 22/31 mpg with all-wheel drive.
The Fusion Hybrid is EPA-rated at 44/41 mpg City/Highway, 42 Combined. Fusion Energi is rated 40/36/38 mpg and, because it can be plugged in for more electric drive, less gas-engine use, it also earns an EPA rating of 88 Combined MPGe.
The 2016 Fusion gets five stars in overall safety ratings from the federal government, NHTSA, with four stars for side crash. From the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), it gets the top Good ratings in all the types of crashes except the small overlap frontal category, which mimics a telephone pole. Ford’s latest safety innovation is inflating rear seatbelts for the crossovers.
The current generation Ford Fusion came out as a 2013 model. The 2016 Ford Fusion is essentially unchanged over 2015: A new 2016 Fusion S Appearance Package adds 18-inch black wheels, fog lamps and a spoiler. There’s also a new Cold Weather package with remote start, heated cloth seats, and floor mats, important features on cold mornings.
Fusion S ($22,110) comes standard with cloth upholstery, SYNC with MyFord, rearview camera, AM/FM/CD with four speakers. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charges or incentives.)
Fusion SE ($23,680) upgrades to the 2.0-liter engine, 10-way power driver’s seat, SiriusXM Satellite Radio and other features. Fusion Titanium ($30,630) features leather upholstery, Sony premium audio and other features.
Fusion SE Luxury Energi ($31,273) and Titanium Energi ($32,961) feature the plug-in hybrid engine.
Fusion S Hybrid ($23,942), Fusion SE Hybrid ($24,428), and Fusion Titanium Hybrid ($28,994) feature the hybrid gas-electric drivetrain.
Even after three years on the street, the rakish Fusion still turns heads with its stance and proportion. Its big hexagon grille spreads to the sleek headlamps. The softly arched roofline looks like the fastback Audi A7. But from the side it’s all Ford.
The first thing you notice inside the Fusion is how quiet it is. Before that, you noticed how solid the door sounded when you closed it. You look around and see good materials, and feel quality. The seat is comfortable and supportive. There’s lots of storage space around the center stack. Holy cow, you realize, you’re in a base S model.
The center stack was revamped for the Sync touch screen and interface, now with a small army of hard buttons. The piece of metallic trim around the center stack, inspired by Volvo (along with the storage), leaves a strong graphic imprint on the cabin.
We don’t like the hard black plastic that scratches easily and fades quickly. So we jump in a Titanium model. We do like the Terra Cotta package, with rich reddish leather.
We put the Ford Fusion among the top midsize sedans when it comes to driving satisfaction: ride, handling, steering and cornering. Only the Mazda 6, some versions of the Honda Accord and the latest Chevrolet Malibu feel as good as the Fusion.
The Fusion is nimble and eager, even with all-wheel-drive. The ride is firm and composed, handling taut and absorbent, and cornering firm and flat. Wheel and tire choice will affect this somewhat.
Both turbo engines bring responsive acceleration with respectable fuel economy. The base engine is one the weaker side, however, with 178 horsepower and torque that peaks at a high 4500 rpm, so there’s less oomph and the automatic transmission kicks down a lot.
We like the 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbo four, with its 240 hp and 270 lb-ft. It revs quickly, and the paddle-shifting automatic is responsive. It’s also quiet and free of vibration.
The 1.5-liter turbo four with 181 horsepower is a good compromise of performance, fuel mileage, and price. It comes with a manual gearbox for fun.
With front struts and rear multi-link suspension, the Fusion is first of all a family sedan, so there’s compliance in the ride, more than some but not as much as the Nissan Altima. The steering is consistent when turning, although it could be quicker, and the feedback goes away when counter-steering. It’s still quite sporty for a midsize sedan.
The Fusion is true to its name, combining good looks with good response from the chassis and powertrains, while bringing efficiency, comfort, and room.