2012 Ford Fusion

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Review: 2010 Ford Fusion

This 2010 review is representative of model years 2010 to 2012.
By Tom Wilson of MSN Autos
Rating: 9.4

Bottom Line:

Three years ago, Ford introduced the intelligently sized Fusion with a classy chassis but mediocre engines and trim. Now it has finished the job with sharp design details, powerful engines and world-class features, especially electronics.
Pros:
  • Leading fuel economy
  • Under-hood zing; sharp handling
  • “Star Wars” electronics
Cons:
  • Primary instrument colors
  • That’s some grille
  • Great car, dead market

Ford hasn’t taken taxpayers’ bailout money yet, and one look at the soon-to-arrive 2010 Fusion says why. A thorough rework of the 2006 model, the latest midsize Ford builds on the excellent Fusion chassis, adding fresh, hard-hitting powertrains, a wisely updated interior, cutting-edge electronic options and sporty new trim. There’s also a superb new Fusion Hybrid. All in all, the new Fusion line delivers on Ford’s promise to build a world-class midsize sedan.

Trim Choices
Starting this spring, the 2010 Fusion hits blue-oval showrooms in four trim levels: S, SE, V-6 SEL and the V6 Sport, which is actually its own model. All are 4-door sedans sharing sleeker lighting, a larger 3-bar grille and a streamlined rear treatment. To varying degrees, they are bolder to state their increased technology and greater fun-to-drive quotient.

The entry-level S is a straight 4-cylinder front-wheel-drive car. Ditto the well-equipped SE, except it offers a 3.0-liter V6 option, while the fully laden SEL is available in 4-cylinder or V6 guise, and offers optional all-wheel drive. Only the Sport boasts the larger 3.5-liter V6.

Comfortable describes the S trim. Seating is manual with cloth upholstery, and the seat structures have been upgraded for good support. Power door locks and mirrors are standard, as is a slick tilt and telescoping steering wheel, front and side-curtain airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners and an MP3 4-speaker sound system. The base Fusion includes speed-sensitive wipers, a rear window defroster, a rear center armrest, a one-touch driver’s window and a 6-speed manual transmission. Standard tires are P205/60VR-16 blackwalls.

Major trim upgrades in the SE are a 6-way power driver’s seat, 6-speaker sound, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and 17-inch wheels. The 3.0-liter V6 is also optional, as is a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Leather trim and all-power seating set the tone in the SEL. Puddle lights, dual-zone climate control and mood lighting are other clues to its luxurious nature. The SEL rolls on 225/50VR-17 all-season radials.

Sport buyers also enjoy leather luxury, extra chrome exterior accents, 18-inch aluminum wheels and 225/45VR-18 tires. But the main attractions are its sport-tuned suspension and the big 263-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine.

Under the Hood
Impressive mechanicals give the Fusion newfound thrust and economy. Both the manual and automatic transmissions are now 6-speeds — key to the Fusion’s combined power and economy gains. The three engines — a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, plus the 3.0 and 3.5-liter V6s — are upgrades of existing Ford mills. All boast twin, variable camshafts, and the two smaller engines have four valves per cylinder. Numerous detail developments, such as electric power steering and crafty cam timing phasers, make these engines smoother, quieter and more efficient.

Gaining 14 horsepower and 16 lb-ft of torque from last year’s 2.3-liter engine, the 175 horsepower 2.5-liter kicks the base Fusion into the traffic mainstream while the 3.0-liter engine is up 19 horses and 23 lb-ft of torque to post a healthy 240 ponies. New to the Fusion, the Sport’s 3.5-liter engine offers 263 horsepower and 249 lb-ft of torque.

Even better, all Fusion engines run on regular gasoline. Official Environmental Protection Agency mileage estimates were not available at press time, but the 2.5-liter engine has gained 10 percent fuel economy, or our estimate of 22 city/30 highway. Likewise, the 3.0-liter engine should see 20 city/28 highway; the 3.5-liter engine a tick less. All significantly better than the Japanese competition.

All-wheel drive is available with the V6s only in the SEL and Sport. Also, the Sport is an automatic-only model.

Inner Space
Smartly upscale and tech savvy is where Ford took the Fusion interior, going all the way to the dash support structure to achieve the sophisticated shapes and mounting points they desired. Likewise, the seats are more supportive, with softer trim and contrast stitching on up-market versions. Themes vary with the trim level — the SEL offering a touch of wood, the Sport being more anodized, for example.

All Fusions wear a new backlit instrument cluster. It’s easy to read, but the colors seem enthusiastically vibrant in contrast to the more elegant dash treatment.

Where Ford truly leapfrogged the competition is electronically. Naturally, there is Sync, Ford’s voice-activated communications and entertainment connectivity suite (which uses technology built by Microsoft, MSN’s parent company), but it now also includes automated 911 calls or the ability to phone home to Dearborn, Mich., to report on the vehicle’s health. Other options include voice-activated navigation in conjunction with an 8-inch touch-screen; SIRIUS Travel Link for real-time weather and traffic; a reverse camera; customizable interior accent lighting; and a radar-operated Blind Spot Information System. Active while backing, the BLIS calls out vehicle traffic within 65 feet, just the thing to spot parking-lot Grand Prix artists before they tag your quarter panel.

On the Road
In 2.5-liter form, the 2010 Fusion is light, spunky and quick to please. With less weight over the front tires, the 4-cylinder models maximize the Fusion’s excellent chassis. The electrically assisted steering is direct and intuitive, especially for a front-wheel-drive car, and the balanced handling is a highlight. The only limit is the lack of performance tires.

We especially enjoyed the low-effort and precise manual transmission. Acceleration was good through the midrange, trailing off only as the engine approached its lofty redline with something of an industrial busyness. Driven typically, the 4-cylinder is quiet and could well be our powertrain favorite. Ford expects 70 percent of Fusion sales to be 2.5-liters.

No 3.0-liter V6 cars were at Ford’s press intro, but our time in the 3.5-liter Sport demonstrated ample, torquey thrust that was especially easy to use in real-world driving. Its Select Shift automatic transmission was sportier than expected, but those looking for a pure sports sedan experience a la the long-departed Taurus SHO will find the Sport agreeable but tending too much toward luxury to be wholly satisfying. The same is true of the AWD option; it’s a godsend in poor weather, but weighty the rest of the time.

Kudos, too, for the long telescoping steering column distance and ample legroom; the Fusion puts its midsize dimensions to full use in accommodating larger people.

Is it Right for You?
Ford clearly has a winner in the Fusion. It’s been driving circles around its vaunted competition in the crowded midsize market in handling, and will now do the same in power and fuel economy, too. Fusion quality is also top-rated in consumer surveys, and the pricing is competitive. At $19,270 the Fusion S competes with economy cars, followed by the 4-cylinder SE at $20,545 and SEL at $23,975. Expect approximately $25,000 for the 3.0-liter SEL, and a larger jump to $27,435 for the AWD V6 SEL. Fans of the V6 Sport are looking at $25,825 in 4WD and $27,675 in AWD configurations.

Longtime Road & Track contributor Tom Wilson’s credits include local racing championships, three technical engine books and hundredsof freelance articles.

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BB01 - 8/21/2014 7:01:08 PM