2007 Ford Fusion

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Review: 2007 Ford Fusion

By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 8

Bottom Line:

A hit, the Fusion enters its second model year as a threat to Asian cars.
Pros:
  • Sporty
  • Roomy
  • Newly available all-wheel drive
Cons:
  • Awkward wiper controls
  • Small radio and climate controls
  • Only a hood prop rod

One of Ford's biggest success stories is its Fusion sedan, introduced as a new 2006 model. It is offered with all-wheel drive and additional features for 2007.

Financially troubled Ford would like to sell more large, profitable trucks, but is happy that the European-style Fusion is doing well. The solidly built Fusion, which has gotten unusually high quality marks for a new American car, fits between Ford's full-size Five Hundred and compact Focus. It shares basic architecture with the also popular Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ (formerly called the Zephyr).

Based on Mazda Model
The Fusion is enjoyable to drive partly because it's based on underpinnings of the Mazda6. (Ford owns part of Mazda.) Although it's a Japanese car, the Mazda6 has a lively, European-style driving feel.

The Fusion can be considered a "driver's car." Its steering is quick and nicely weighted. Its all-independent suspension provides a supple ride, and the car willingly tackles twisting roads, although it's no BMW. The brakes work fine, but are activated by a pedal that has a progressive action but feels rather soft.

New All-Wheel Drive
Most Fusion trim levels have front-wheel drive, but my test top-line Fusion SEL V6 came with the car's new all-wheel-drive system, which works invisibly but enhances traction.

Other new 2007 features include standard side airbags, which accompany front-seat side airbags, available navigation system, fold-down front passenger seat and audio system upgrades.

The Fusion has a somewhat aggressive forward-leaning stance, and its bright front end features prominent chrome grille bars and shimmering rectangular projector-beam headlights. The top and window area look rakish and sit atop a flowing, wedge-shaped body.

The trim rear end has chrome taillight trim, and chromed dual exhaust outlets help give the Fusion's a high-performance look.

Dressing It Up
Making my test Fusion look especially sporty was a newly available dealer-installed "3-D Carbon" body kit that Ford says costs about $2,000. (Ford has no control over what a dealer can charge for installation of the kit.)

The kit reflects the increasing move toward personalization of vehicles. It contains a front spoiler, special rocker panels and a rear spoiler—besides a lower rear fascia with more pronounced integrated dual exhaust outlets.

There is some wind noise above 60 mph, but the upscale looking interior is generally pretty quiet. The front bucket seats are supportive and crisply styled gauges have a custom appearance. A tilt/telescopic steering wheel and a manual or automatic height-adjustable driver's seat help provide a comfortable driving position for people of various sizes.

Odd Fault
However, the audio and climate control systems have small, nearly flush buttons. And windshield wiper controls on the turn signal stalk to the left of the steering wheel can be difficult to use—an odd fault for a mass-produced mainstream car.

Some cost-cutting is shown by the lack of a lock on the door of the fairly large glove compartment. But each front door has a pocket and beverage holder. Dual front cupholders are nicely positioned on the console, which has a deep covered bin. But the covered storage area atop the dash is too shallow for much more than toll way change or maps.

Three Trim Levels
The Fusion is sold in base S, midrange SE and top-line SEL trim levels. It's aggressively priced, compared to Japanese rivals such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. List prices range from $17,295 for the base 4-cylinder S to $23,825 for the new top SEL V6 version with all-wheel drive. (The front-wheel drive SEL V6 costs $21,975.)

Even the S is fairly well-equipped, with such items as air conditioning, cruise control, manual height-adjustable driver seat, split-folding rear seat, AM/FM/CD/MP3 player and power windows, mirrors and locks with remote keyless entry.

The S adds items including a leather-wrapped wheel with radio controls, power driver seat, fog lights and alloy wheels. The SEL adds automatic climate control, heated power mirrors, automatic headlights and wider 50-series tires on 17-inch (vs. standard 16-inch) wheels.

Anti-lock brakes are a $595 option for all trim levels and are required for the all-wheel-drive system. Traction control is offered for front-wheel drive V6 trim levels for $95, but also requires the anti-lock brake option.

Want a power sunroof? It's a $795 option, but available only for the SE and SEL. Leather upholstery costs $895, but is offered only for those trim levels. You can get the SEL with $295 heated front seats if it has leather upholstery.

Mazda Sourced Engine
The Mazda-sourced 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine has 160 horsepower and delivers an estimated 23 mpg in the city and 31 on highways with its 5-speed manual gearbox and 24 and 32 with its $850 5-speed automatic transmission.

The manual doesn't have the best shift linkage, and the dual overhead camshaft 16-valve 4-cylinder provides just adequate highway performance. Ford's ubiquitous 3.0-liter 221-horsepower Duratec V6 has more torque and provides faster acceleration.

The V6 comes only with an alert 6-speed automatic transmission, which has no manual shift feature. Estimated economy is 21 mpg city and 29 highway with front-wheel drive and 19 and 26 with all-wheel drive. Both engines only need 87-octane fuel.

Easy Entry
Long doors with large handles open wide to allow easy entry to front and rear seats. The Fusion easily seats four 6-footers, or five in a pinch. But the hard center of the rear seat is best left to a fold-down armrest that contains dual cupholders.

The roomy trunk has a low, wide opening. Its lid has a felt-type liner that looks and feels cheap, but it raises well out of the way on hydraulic struts.

Rear seatbacks drop flat to appreciably enlarge the cargo area when they're released via levers in the trunk. But the heavy hood is held open by a prop rod, when struts would be more appropriate.

The fact that the Fusion is selling well shows that people are receptive to above-average American cars.

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BB06 - 4/19/2014 2:54:23 AM