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2017 Ford Fusion
Bob Plunkett

Introduction

The 2017 Ford Fusion features fresh styling inside and out. Also new for the 2017 model year are a new Fusion V6 Sport model and a new Fusion Platinum trim level. 2017 Fusion models also get the latest version of Ford Sync 3 and upgraded safety features.

The Ford Fusion is a roomy, comfortable, attractive and nimble midsize sedan, strong on stance, profile and details, to go with its great handling. The 2017 Fusion represents the fifth year of its generation, but it still fares well when compared to the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, and the new and improved Chevrolet Malibu.

2017 Fusion S and Fusion SE models come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 178 horsepower, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The performance from that engine doesn’t match the fastback looks.

More lively is the available 1.5-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder that also gets better fuel mileage by two miles per gallon. There’s another EcoBoost four-cylinder turbo, this one 2.0 liters and 240 horsepower with an oomphy 270 pound-feet of torque and all-wheel drive.

A fourth powertrain is the one designed for fuel mileage, the Hybrid, as well as a plug-in hybrid called the Energi, both with EPA ratings of more than 40 Combined miles per gallon (we’ll cover these two in separate reviews).

The new 2017 Ford Fusion V6 Sport features a powerful V6 engine paired with all-wheel drive. Ford isn’t kidding around about the word sport, as it’s a 2.7-liter twin turbo making 325 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque, blowing the bigger V6 engines in the Accord and Camry out of the water. The 2017 Fusion V6 Sport comes with an active suspension, continuously controlled damping that sees potholes and prepares the shock absorbers for them before the potholes hit. The V6 Sport also gets its own styling touches, including a black mesh grille, deeper front air intakes, rear spoiler, twin exhausts, and 19-inch wheels.

The styling on all 2017 Fusion models is freshened at the nose and tail, with a wider, sleeker grille, and LED headlamps and taillamps. There’s a new chrome strip in back, and new wheels. The interior has been upgraded with a redesigned console, and there’s a new top trim model called the Platinum. Finally, 2017 Fusion gets the latest version of Ford’s interactive infotainment system, called Sync 3.

The 2.5-liter S and SE models are rated by the EPA at 21 miles per gallon city, 31 highway, and 25 combined. The 1.5-liter turbo gets 23/34/27 mpg, using the same 6-speed automatic transmission with an added feature; it uses engine coolant to warm up the transmission to make it slicker, sooner. Automatic stop-start is standard with this engine on 2017 models.

The 2.0-liter turbo with direct injection is standard on the Fusion Titanium and Platinum. Using the same 6-speed automatic and front-wheel drive, it gets an EPA-rated 21/31/25 mpg. All-wheel driving drops fuel efficiency by about two miles per gallon. It also uses the transmission warm-up, as well shutters behind the grille that close at speed to improve aerodynamics.

The 2017 Ford Fusion gets five stars overall from NHTSA for crash safety, and the top rating from the IIHS, except small overlap, where it earned Acceptable.

There are many new electronic safety systems for 2017, including adaptive cruise control that comes to a stop and back up to speed, meaning you can drive with no feet; pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection; lane-keeping; driver alerts for drowsiness; and Park Assist that will park your car perpendicular as well as parallel.

Model Lineup

Ford Fusion S ($22,610) comes with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, front-wheel drive, cloth upholstery, manual air conditioning, power windows, four-speaker AM/FM/CD audio. Fusion SE ($24,134) gets upgraded audio, wheels and other features and is available with all-wheel drive ($27,930). The 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter Ecoboost engines are options.

Fusion Titanium ($30,880) and Titanium AWD ($32,880) employ the 2.0-liter turbocharged Ecoboost engine and features leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control and other upgrades. (All prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge. Prices may change at any moment without notice.)

Walkaround

The Fusion is nearly 192 inches long, with a 112-inch wheelbase, making it big for a midsize car, but then they’re all getting bigger, pushing the EPA’s definition of midsize.

The fastback shape looks dashing in dark colors, not so head-turning in the common silver. The hexagonal grille is a blatant copy of the racy Aston Martin, and it works. The tweaks for 2017 improve the flow at the front, including more shapely headlamps that are now LED, and wider fascia, with a bolder bumper, deeper intakes and glossy black grille insert.

The roofline arches gently, resembling an Audi A7 from the rear, but unmistakable Ford from the side. The Fusion boasts a strong stance and sense of proportion, low to the road like the Mazda 6.

Interior

The interior, freshened for 2017 models, is sleek and functional, with a rotary gear-selector dial in the new center console. The standard LCD screen is small, and flanked by switchgear that functions with precision.

We like the USB port that’s illuminated in the dark. Thanks to efficient organization reflecting real thought, the console has a lot of room, even with a media hub, vertical cell phone slot, enlarged center bin, better-located cupholders, and longer armrest. The Volvo-like design, open at the sides, is an improvement over the pinched Focus and Fiesta, but there’s too much glossy piano black plastic on the dash and door armrests. It shows scratches and blemishes too easily. However the rest of it is soft to the touch, and fits well.

The base cloth seats have manual adjustment, and are comfortable and supportive, although slim and clearly low-cost, as well as tilted a bit too much forward for us. But their being thin gives more room in the rear, compared to rivals, with good legroom for two adults in back. The 119 cubic feet of interior volume is just under what the EPA would call a full-size car.

The seat cushions are high, and with the available sunroof you lose a bit of headroom, so six-footers might graze the headliner in back. Same in the Nissan Altima and Volkswagen Passat.

The trunk is sizeable, at 16 cubic feet. Tall doors make entry and exit easy, especially on the high cushions; they close with a solid thunk. Slim roof pillars allow excellent visibility for the driver.

The new Platinum model is luxury all with way, with quilted leather seats and door panels, Venetian leather on the steering wheel, and regular leather on the instrument panel, center console, and door armrests.

Driving Impressions

The base 2.5-liter engine does okay, but a broader torque band would be nice. It doesn’t reach peach torque until 4500 rpm, so the 6-speed transmission has to work a lot.

If snappy acceleration is important to you, you need the 2.0-liter turbo, with its 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. It revs quickly, and steering-wheel paddles sweeten the shifting. It’s also very smooth and silent, almost amazingly so for a four-cylinder. But the best choice might be the compromise, the 181-horsepower, 1.5-liter turbo four, for its lower price point.

Even at its heaviest, about 3700 pounds, the Fusion feels nimble and offers excellent handling. It’s up there with the Mazda 6, some Honda Accord models, and the strong new Chevrolet Malibu. Ford takes advantage of its European roots and connections, bringing sophistication to the ride and cornering that’s flat and reassuring. The steering is taut and well tuned, making the Fusion eager in a way you just don’t find in everyday midsize sedans. The steering isn’t perfect, but it’s consistent. There’s not much feedback when unwinding the wheel, and the ratio could be quicker, but it still feels sporty, at least with the larger wheels. Ride quality and handling changes between the 16-inch standard wheels and 19-inch available ones, as all cars will.

The suspension uses front struts and rear multi-links that Ford calls Control LInk. It’s absorbent while providing more firmness and composure than rivals such as the Nissan Altima. Still, the Fusion knows that it’s a family sedan and doesn’t try to pretend it’s a sports sedan. It makes the seat of our pants happy.

Summary

The Ford Fusion offers a lot in a midsize sedan, and compares favorably against its many rivals, from Camry to Passat to Malibu, especially when you consider all the standard equipment. The base engine is okay, while the 2.0 turbo is quicker and gets 2 mpg better mileage. The 6-speed automatic in both of them is smooth and sharp. The Fusion SE offers winning value in a midsize sedan.

New Car Test Drive correspondent Sam Moses contributed to this report, with staff reports by The Car Connection.

2017 Ford Fusion
New Car Test Drive

Introduction

The Ford Fusion Hybrid and the plug-in Fusion Energi version look and behave like their regular counterparts. The main difference is that Instead of a conventional gasoline-engine powertrain, they get a smaller gas engine, working in concert with an 88-kW electric motor.

The Fusion Energi can be plugged into a wall outlet to recharge. The included charger can recharge a fully depleted battery pack in as little as 2.5 hours. A door in the left front fender opens to reveal the charging port. The Energi plug-in has a range of 19 miles on battery power alone.

The two battery/gasoline Fusions share a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which develops 141 horsepower and mates with an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT). Total system output is 188 horsepower. In the Hybrid’s trunk is a 1.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. A bigger, higher-capacity (7.6 kWh) battery pack goes into the Energi model. An EcoGuide provides real-time information on driving with the greatest efficiency.

The current-generation Fusion was launched for the 2013 model year, along with the Hybrid and Energi models.

The sleekly elegant Ford Fusion is among the best looking of the midsize sedans. 2017 Ford Fusion models get a slightly revised front end with a wider grille, plus interior upgrades. Inside, the console has been revised for 2017 to include a rotary drive-selector knob, permitting a bit more storage space up front. Also new is the 2017 Fusion Platinum trim level.

A newly available suite of active-safety systems includes a lane-keeping system that supplants the prior lane-departure warning, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, drowsy driver alert; and adaptive cruise control. Park Assist now helps with both perpendicular and parallel parking.

Safety ratings have been good, though not class-leading. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Fusion its highest (five-star) rating for overall safety, plus five stats for the frontal crash test. However, side-impact testing produced a four-star score. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has gives the Fusion its top (Good) rating in every category, declaring it a Top Safety Pick+.

Model Lineup

Four Fusion Hybrid and three Energi (plug-in) trim levels are offered:

Fusion Hybrid S ($25,185) comes with dual-zone automatic climate control, nine-speaker audio, a 60/40-split rear seat, Active Noise Control, two 4.2-inch LCD displays, keyless entry, LED taillights, 17-inch wheels, SYNC, and a rearview camera. Fusion Hybrid SE ($25,990) adds a 10-way power driver’s seat, 6-way power passenger seat, and satellite radio.

Fusion Hybrid Titanium ($30,520) includes upgrades with leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, a driver’s memory, power lumbar support, SYNC 3, ambient lighting, Sony 12-speaker audio with HD radio, 18-inch aluminum wheels.

Fusion Hybrid Platinum ($37,020) includes premium leather, cooled front seats, SYNC Connect, navigation, moonroof, sport grille. Active-safety features include blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection.

Fusion Energi SE ($31,120) comes with leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, SYNC 3, 11-speaker premium audio, and satellite radio. Fusion Energi Titanium ($32,120) gets heated front sport seats, ambient lighting, a rear spoiler, and Sony 12-speaker audio with HD radio. Fusion Energi Platinum ($39,120) tops the line, including a sport grille, leather-wrapped and stitched instrument panel, blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, cooled front seats, and navigation.

Walkaround

A big oblong grille leads the way to one of the most attractive sedan designs to be found today. At the very least, all Fusions, including the Hybrids, rank among the best-looking family sedans in the midsize class. For 2017, the shapely grille has grown even wider, with a greater level of crispness. The racy fastback silhouette tapers into a tail that suggests a hatchback, but the Fusion has a trunk. LED headlights are standard.

Fusions tend to look better in darker shades, which highlight the sedan’s racy shape. Light colors are likely to make the Fusion appear thicker and heavier. Either way, though, it’s one of the most noticeable sedan designs on today’s road.

Interior

Modern and tasteful, the Fusion interior focuses on seating comfort. Seats are nicely shaped and especially comfortable. Recycled synthetic fabric covers base-level Hybrid seats. Leather seating surfaces are standard in upper trim levels.

Ford’s glassed-in instrument cluster lets the driver configure displays and data as they prefer, ignoring the others. To its credit, Ford has kept traditional knobs for climate control and radio adjustment. Touch-sensitive buttons, used for other controls, can be frustrating, at least initially.

Thankfully, the controversial MyFord Touch input system is gone, replaced by a new SYNC 3 setup that uses less-fancy graphics, but promises quicker, more accurate responses.

Both hybrid models provide good interior volume, but the Fusion’s fastback-style roofline does cut down on backseat head clearance. Front wheel wells tend to push front passengers’ feet toward the center. On the plus side, knee room is ample for six-footers.

Driving Impressions

Handling has been a strong point in Fusions, and both hybrids hold the road capably. In fact, they stand above any gasoline/electric competitors, though both models are heavier than other Fusions and less athletic when cornering. Steering is slow, however. When running through a series of turns, you’ll probably turn the wheel more than expected.

Regenerative braking from the hybrid system also is among the best, with near-seamless transitions between regular braking and the action of the regenerative setup.

Expect a smooth, quiet ride in either model, helped by an amply-isolated engine and a low overall noise level at all speeds. Even the low-rolling-resistance tires transmit little noise into the cabin. They keep the ride firm, but not jarring. Active Noise Cancellation sends what might be called anti-noise through the door speakers, cancelling out certain frequencies that might otherwise be bothersome.

Ford’s Hybrid engineers have improved control software and modified the electric motor, promising better driving responses from the current models. They aim to make Fusion hybrids feel even more like regular gas-engine cars. The goal is to achieve engine responses that closely match increases in road speed.

As for fuel economy, the Fusion Hybrid is EPA-rated at 44/41 mpg (City/Highway), or 42 mpg Combined. Those are admirable figures, yet the latest Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid achieves a 47-mpg combined estimate. The Fusion Energi plug-in is EPA-rated at 38 mpg combined (88 MPGe equivalent).

Summary

Fusion Hybrids aren’t quite the most economical vehicles of their type, but they’re among the sharpest-looking and easiest handling, behaving admirably on the road. Options can add up in a hurry, and some are rather costly on the Fusion’s lengthy list.

Driving impressions by John Voelcker. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.


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