Review: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
This 2010 review is representative of model years 2010 to 2012.
By Tom Wilson of MSN Autos
When Ford redesigned and re-engineered the midsize Fusion for 2010, it wisely included its second-generation gas-electric hybrid technology into the model mix. The result is a hybrid capable enough to sweep aside the competition. Fully featured, fast, comfortable and capable of 40 mpg in stop-and-go traffic, the 2010 Fusion Hybrid redefines the hybrid, and is now the one to beat. Look out, Toyota Prius.
Outside, the Hybrid is marked by the Fusion’s new cleaner, sportier styling, plus simple “road and leaf” badging and unique multispoke 17-inch aluminum wheels. The tires are P225/50VR-17 black sidewalls. Otherwise the exterior trim is cleanly upscale to blend into the cityscape, unlike overtly styled first-generation hybrids designed to attract attention to their hybrid uniqueness. The Fusion is taking hybrids mainstream.
Under the Hood
A second starter/generator motor starts the gas engine and provides braking power, which is used to recharge the 275-volt nickel-metal-hydride battery pack.
Because the gasoline engine is often not running — the Fusion Hybrid can reach an impressive 47 mph on battery power alone — the power steering and air conditioning are electrically powered. Furthermore, the gasoline engine and all computer controls are optimized to keep hot water on hand for the heater and defroster.
Front-seaters also have plenty to engage them intellectually. An innovative LCD instrument cluster packs a library of powertrain information clearly and intuitively. Multiple menus both inform and subtly teach the finer points of hybrid driving, including a growing vine display to graphically underscore the instant and trip fuel-economy digital readouts. It sounds corny, but is actually fun.
Fully optioned, the Fusion Hybrid provides state-of-the-art electronics that come off particularly well in the quiet cockpit. Behind-the-scenes improvements such as thicker glass have reduced road and wind noise, plus the electric powertrain is nearly inaudible, bringing the sound and voice-activated systems to the fore.
On the Road
With a little experience, one can tell when the gasoline engine kicks in. It can be detected by a minor “grain” of vibration. But in city traffic, this is an occasional occurrence. More common is the slight whine from the electric motor when starting off from rest, the background whir of the air conditioning and the distant sound of nearby vehicles. At stoplights, the experience is a calming peace, which turns to disappointment when returning to conventionally powered vehicles and their ceaseless busyness.
Furthermore, the Fusion Hybrid has beans. Stomp the accelerator and the Hybrid runs harder than the energetic standard 4-cylinder models and approaches the 3.5-liter Sport’s acceleration. Such driving won’t grow many leaves on the instrument cluster, but it will answer the call of wild traffic. A lower center of gravity and better front-to-rear weight balance than pure gasoline Fusions means the Hybrid is naturally pleasing in the turns, too. Not hurting is the electric power steering, which offers more feel than the traditional hydraulic power steering, now used only in the Fusion Sport. Likewise, braking is seamless between regenerative and the standard friction brakes. A built-in “creep” in the electric power means the Hybrid acts like an automatic, so it’s necessary to hold the brakes at lights.
The Fusion Hybrid runs on 87 octane gasoline — but not too much of it, given a 39 city/37 highway EPA fuel economy rating. Kept in ideal conditions — clogged urban stop-and-go traffic — the Hybrid can just manage 700 miles per tank of gas, or one trip to the gas station per month, perhaps. Our test driving netted 40 mpg on Los Angeles surface streets, and our guess is a high-30s mpg average is very realistic for an urban Fusion Hybrid.
Right for You?
Starting at $27,270, the Fusion Hybrid is not particularly inexpensive initially, and fully loaded it will reach into the low $30Ks. A conventional 2.5-liter 2010 Fusion SEL is similarly equipped, almost as fast and starts at $23,975. It pencils ahead of the Hybrid for about the first 40,000 miles at $2.50 per gallon, but isn’t as quiet as the Hybrid and doesn’t offer its green cachet.
Battery life is officially rated by Ford at 10 years or 150,000 miles. Unofficially, however, fleet testing shows the batteries can go 300,000 miles in daily use. Likewise, brake pads last nearly forever as the regenerative braking does almost all the work in typical driving. Given the necessary urban driving, we’d lean to the Fusion Hybrid to gain the quiet operation and enjoy this most modern of technologies.
Longtime Road & Track contributor Tom Wilson’s credits include local racing championships, three technical engine books and hundredsof freelance articles.