2012 Ford Fusion

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Short Take Road Test: 2010 Ford Fusion SEL V6

This 2010 review is representative of model years 2010 to 2012.
By Mark Gillies of Car and Driver

Mid-size sedans and V-6 engines generally don't make a lot of sense to the staff here at Car and Driver. Whether they're built by domestic or import automakers, these cars tend to retail for about $30,000 when fully optioned and often don't provide enough performance over that of the far cheaper four-cylinder versions while returning palpably worse gas mileage.

Ford, for reasons known only to itself, offers two V-6 engines in the freshened 2010 Fusion: a carry-over 3.0-liter that makes 240 hp and 222 lb-ft of torque, up from 221 hp and 205 lb-ft, and a newly available 3.5-liter unit in the Sport model that provides 263 hp and 249 lb-ft. Both V-6s are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with manumatic shifting.

Running the Numbers
There are three V-6 Fusion models: the $23,760 SE and the $26,465 SEL, both with the 3.0-liter engine, and the $26,550 Sport, with the 3.5. Our SEL came loaded with heated, leather-trimmed seats; a leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise and audio controls; power heated mirrors; the Select-Shift manumatic transmission; dual-zone climate control; the Sync voice-activated infotainment system; and auto headlamps. By the time navigation, a 12-speaker stereo, blind-spot monitoring, and a rear-view backup camera were added, the total sticker was $31,705. A $945 incentive dropped the price to $30,760, but that's still a lot of dough for a mid-size family sedan.

All that stuff makes it a luxurious ride, though. Changes to the 2010 Fusion include an interior makeover that features a wealth of soft-touch materials, better seats, and a cool new gauge cluster that has a 3-D appearance. The nav system is a breeze to use, as is Sync, whether you're playing tunes from your iPod or connecting a Bluetooth phone. There's a tendency to dismiss blind-spot monitoring as a fad, until you get into a car that doesn't have it and find you're missing the security it offers in traffic.

Competent but Lackluster
As well as freshening the interior and exterior for 2010, Ford paid attention to sound deadening and to fine-tuning the ride and handling, fitting 2.5-liter four-cylinder and 3.0-liter V-6 models with electric power steering. On the highway, the Fusion is quiet and rides in a nicely controlled, supple manner, yet the engine becomes quite harsh under wide-open throttle. It definitely doesn't have the creamy power delivery and dulcet tones of Honda and Toyota V-6s. The Fusion performs well enough, but its 0-to-60-mph time of 7.1 seconds lags that of the last automatic V-6 Accord we tested (6.6 seconds) and of a Mazda 6 V-6, which hit 60 mph in 6.1 seconds.

We're not usually fans of electric power steering, but the Fusion's is one of the nicest systems we've tried, with good on-center feel and accuracy. The chassis is predictable and safe, but the tuning favors a plush ride over tied-down behavior in the twisties. We achieved a moderate 0.80 g of grip on the skidpad, the number being restrained by a stability control system that couldn't be completely deactivated. That's about the same as the V-6 Accord's (0.79 g). The Honda, like the Fusion, was shod with Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 rubber. When it came to braking, though, the Ford was terrible. A stopping distance of 203 feet from 70 mph was bad enough, but we suffered fade almost immediately. The Honda needed 187 feet and didn't suffer from fade, and a Mazda 6 V-6 on the same tires recorded 165 feet. It seems as if Dearborn has been scrimping on one of the most important systems in an automobile.

Better Deals to Be Had
Overall, the SEL achieved 24 mpg in our hands, which is consistent with the EPA numbers of 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. The gas mileage is decent, but if we were shopping for a Fusion, we'd take the four-cylinder model, which is only 0.9 second slower to 60 mph, returned better numbers under braking and on the skidpad, and has an EPA city/highway rating of 22/31 mpg. Oh, and eschewing the V-6 engine saves $2490. Better still, leave some of the luxury behind for the SE model, and the base price drops to $21,270. Now, that's what we call a deal.

Performance Data
C/D TEST RESULTS:

Zero to 60 mph: 7.1 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 20.0 sec
Zero to 110 mph: 26.2 sec
Street start, 5-60 mph: 7.3 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 15.5 sec @ 91 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 112 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 203 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad*: 0.80 g

FUEL ECONOMY:
EPA city/highway driving: 18/27 mpg
C/D observed: 24 mpg

*Stability-control-inhibited.

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BB01 - 9/17/2014 3:00:58 PM