2018 Ford Fusion
When the current-generation Fusion debuted for the 2013 model year, it essentially established a new standard for style in a midsize family sedan. Now, its gracefully lean, carefully-proportioned body continues to attract admirers. Eyes are particularly drawn to its gloriously simple, horizontal oval grille.
Little has changed on Fusions for the 2018 model year.
Fusion choices practically set a record for diversity. Four powertrains are offered, with five trim levels: S, SE, Titanium, Sport, and Platinum. Ford also offers both a regular Hybrid and a Plug-in Hybrid variant. All Fusions use a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Base engine is a 175-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder, which doesn’t stand out in any way. Substituting a 1.5-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder raises output only slightly, to 181 horsepower, but adds stop/start technology that’s meant to improve fuel economy.
Upper-level Fusions are equipped with a stronger 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbo four that produces 245 horsepower. Top dog beneath the hood, standard in the Sport sedan, is a 2.7-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V6, generating 325 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. That model comes with standard all-wheel drive, but others have front-drive as the standard configuration and AWD as an option.
Both Hybrid sedans blend a 2.0-liter gasoline engine with twin electric motors and trunk-mounted lithium-ion battery packs. Combined output totals 188 horsepower. The Energi Plug-in Hybrid can go 22 miles on electricity alone.
Recharging a wholly depleted battery takes 3 to 4 hours, using a Level 2 (240-volt) charging station. Plugging into a 120-volt household outlet, charging takes about 7 hours.
The regular Hybrid comes in four trim levels, the Energi plug-in version, in three.
Every Fusion has a rearview camera, as well as Bluetooth audio streaming. A considerable selection of active-safety technology is available, though most of those features are options, rather than standard.
Forward collision warning, with automatic emergency braking, is available for all except the base S model. A Driver Assist Package includes lane-departure warning, active lane control, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, rear parking sensors, and active parking assist.
Crash-testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration resulted in a five-star rating overall and for side-impact, but four-star for frontal crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has given the Fusion Good scores, provided it’s equipped with forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking.
Fusion S ($22,120) comes with the 2.5-liter engine, front-drive, cloth seats, cruise control, air conditioning, rearview camera, pushbutton start, SYNC infotainment, 16-inch wheels, steering-wheel controls, and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD player. All-wheel drive is not available. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $885 destination charge.)
Fusion SE ($23,395) adds power front seats, 17-inch wheels, satellite radio, and LED exterior lighting. All-wheel drive is available, as part of an option package ($4,890) that includes other features.
Fusion Titanium ($30,395) has the 2.0-liter turbo four. Also standard are heated front seats, SYNC 3, dual-zone automatic climate control, sport seats with leather surfaces, 12-speaker Sony audio, HD radio, 18-inch wheels, and ambient lighting. All-wheel drive adds $2,000.
Fusion AWD Sport ($33,750) gets the 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6, adaptive shock absorbers, shift paddles, 19-inch wheels, LED headlights and foglamps, leather/suede seats, nine-speaker audio, and active noise cancellation. All-wheel drive is standard.
Fusion Platinum ($36,895) includes the 2.0-liter turbo four, a sunroof, ventilated front seats, navigation, and 19-inch wheels. Safety features include items optional on other models: pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot monitoring. All-wheel drive adds $2,000.
Fusion Hybrid S ($25,295) has a battery/gasoline powertrain, nine-speaker audio, and 17-inch wheels. Fusion Hybrid SE ($26,245) adds power front seats, satellite radio, and LED lighting. Fusion Hybrid Titanium ($30,775) includes SYNC 3 infotainment, HD radio, 12-speaker Sony audio, and 18-inch wheels. Fusion Hybrid Platinum ($37,275) comes with cooled front seats, sport grille, leather-wrapped steering wheel, sunroof, and active-safety features including pre-collision system.
Fusion Energi SE ($31,305) has a plug-in hybrid powertrain, leather seats, heated front seats, SYNC, and satellite radio. Fusion Energi Titanium ($32,305) includes 12-speaker Sony audio, ambient lighting, and rear spoiler. Fusion Energi Platinum ($39,305) is equipped similar to Hybrid Platinum, including active-safety features.
Viewed from any direction, Ford’s Fusion is about as fine-looking a family sedan as you’ll find anywhere. Although its graceful body proportions and gallant stance might suggest premium German automobiles, the stylish low grille looks as if it was plucked off a British Aston Martin.
More than most competitors, the Fusion asserts a presence that seems practically timeless. At the rear, the Fusion profile carries the aura of a more costly car, centered on LED taillights that are split by a chrome strip.
Unlike the eye-grabbing Fusion body, its plainly-trimmed cabin ranks around average. Functionality has improved, helped by a rotary gearshift knob and additional storage bins. Trim is better than it used to be, though glossy black plastic is fairly prominent.
Simple metallic rings surround instruments and controls. Base-model display screens are small. Fusions run quietly, except for a rumbling exhaust sound on Sport models.
Comfortably bolstered front seats are shapely and supportive, if somewhat thinly padded. Six-footers should have ample headroom and leg space. Tall doors help make entry/exit easy. Visibility excels, courtesy of a high driver’s seat, abundant glass, and narrow roof pillars.
Back-seat space is about average – rather flat, and short on head clearance for taller riders. Four adults fit nicely, though a fifth might not. Some rival midsize sedans offer significantly more legroom. Trunk space totals an ample 16 cubic feet.
Upper trim levels flaunt some plush details, including quilted leather seats and door panels in the Limited. Sport models get suede seats and aluminum pedals. Base models have lesser-grade cloth upholstery. Hybrids have a glass-covered cluster of gauges, which can be configured to show the desired data and graphics.
Essentially a family sedan, thus short of sporty, the Fusion yields a tightly controlled ride that’s firm, yet absorbent. In Sport models, despite adaptive dampers, the ride tends to be excessively firm, though short of harsh.
Fusions respond smartly to driver inputs, handling with admirable firmness. Delivering an impressive blend of charming ride and taut handling, the Fusion benefits from adeptly-tuned electric power steering. Base sedans aren’t especially agile, but the Sport model supplies an eager, consistent steering feel.
Most Fusion engines promise strong acceleration, but the performance range is broad. Less powerful than rival base engines, Ford’s 2.5-liter four reaches peak torque at fairly high engine speed, limiting performance potential. The 1.5-liter turbo feels stronger for everyday duties, despite its small displacement, because it’s tuned to deliver low-end torque.
Expect swift-revving energy with minimal vibration from the 245-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo four. Starting off strongly from a standstill, it’s well matched to the paddle-shifted 6-speed automatic.
Accelerating briskly, a Fusion Sport with the 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 sounds lusty, too. Long highway passing maneuvers unreel without fuss, while 0-60 mph acceleration takes a little over six seconds. Set up for firm responses, the Fusion Sport furnishes crisp steering, along with tautly-controlled body motions. Adaptive dampers help to smooth the pavement surface, but 19-inch wheels make that task tougher.
Four-cylinder engines help keep Fusions economical. S and SE sedans are EPA-rated at 21/32 mpg City/Highway, or 25 mpg Combined. The Eco’s 1.5-liter turbo manages 23/34/27 mpg, and has standard stop/start.
In Titanium and Platinum trim, the 2.0-liter turbo with 6-speed automatic and front-drive is EPA-rated at 21/31 mpg City/Highway, or 25 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops the estimate to 20/29/23 mpg. Fusion Sport, with all-wheel drive and the 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6, is EPA-rated at 17/26 mpg City/Highway, or 20 mpg Combined.
Hybrid Fusions carry on most of the regular Fusion virtues, augmented by better fuel economy – though not the best. The front-drive Hybrid is EPA-rated 43/41 mpg City/Highway, or 42 mpg Combined. The Plug-in Energi edition is rated 42 mpg in hybrid mode, 97 MPGe when using battery power. Newer hybrid competitors are thriftier, especially the newest Toyota Camry (EPA-rated at 52 mpg).
Hybrid pleasures begin with a quiet ride and friendly handling, though steering is on the slow side. Because engine responses are more closely in accord with road speed than before, the current Hybrid promises more conventional driving feel. Rewarding handling abilities help make this battery/gasoline model enjoyable to drive. Low-rolling-resistance tires produce little sound.
Today’s Fusion continues to promise an attractively-proportioned body, confident ride and handling, and abundant technology. Top value is probably the amply-equipped Fusion SE, now available with optional adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning. Among the Hybrids, the best value may be the base model.
Driving impressions by Marty Padgett and John Voelcker, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.