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No Confusion: Fusion is Ford's 2013 Breakout Sedan

By Sue Mead, September 29th, 2012

For 2013, Ford's all-new Fusion separates from the midsize sedan crowd with expressive cars that include gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.

On the outside, Ford's Fusion has clearly grown up with gorgeous aerodynamic styling that makes you stop and stare. This midsize sedan looks sleeker and more sophisticated than its predecessor, with an elliptical front grille and narrow, slanted headlamps that recall Ford's iconic Thunderbird styling.

"Character lines" -- those sheet metal accents that draw the eye in -- sweep up and back toward the rear, which is clipped and slightly jaunty. Accents such as squared-off dual exhaust pipes (on higher end models) channel a sports car vibe.

Inside, this all-American sedan speaks with a European accent, with a driver-centric cabin that is comfortable without being cushy and technologically well-equipped without looking cluttered. Gaps are now tightened between the interior and exterior and there are more pleasing surfaces, thanks to soft-touch materials and upholstery throughout.

The instrument panel is pushed forward so the cabin feels roomier overall. The Fusion seats five and trunk space is ample for a couple sets of golf clubs or a weekly stock-up at the supermarket. Standard upholstery is fabric, with leather trim available.

Among the seven must-have technologies are a Lane Keeping System, adaptive cruise control, active park assist and MyFord Touch. Also available is the newest version of SYNC, a combination of entertainment, navigation and communications through voice commands, touch screens and traditional buttons.

Our report is on the gas-engine Fusion. Three trims include a Base ($21,700), SE ($23,700), and uplevel Titanium ($30,200).

Fusion's three gas-powered engines include a 2.5-liter four-cylinder motor making 175 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft. of torque; a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that delivers 178 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft.; and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost that pumps out 240 horses and 270 lb.-ft. of torque.

The 2.5-liter four and the 1.6-liter EcoBoost each are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, though a 6-speed manual is available for models set up with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost, which also gets stop/start technology, active grille shutters, and an underbody shield.

The 2.0-liter EcoBoost gets the 6-speed automatic with SelectShift manual shifting capability. All models are front-wheel drive, although an all-wheel-drive version is available on the top-of-the-line Titanium edition. Ford says its gas-powered models have a top fuel economy of 22/34 mpg.

We drove the 2013 Fusion with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine with the automatic transmission and stop/start technology that aids in fuel economy. We noted that there is some shudder and shake to this automatic transmission version, when the system stops and restarts, but is fairly non-intrusive.

We also drove the 1.6L EcoBoost Fusion with the smooth shifting 6-speed manual transmission, which was a true pleasure to drive in a contemporary car market that is building so few manuals. Our longer drive route with tight and twisty roads also let us evaluate Fusion's Electric Power Steering, as well as the Fusion's brakes and independent suspension, finding the new model to be a tight and responsive package with good handling.

Finally, we took a drive in the 2.0-liter EcoBoost turbo engine, which Ford says is a "rocket ship." Its power and torque found low in the rpm range are a treat and make it quite fun to drive, despite its large size. Fusion engineers explain that aspects of its engine depend on technology and materials "tried and tested in outer space," as both turbo parts and materials used on the Fusion were used on the Space Shuttle, hence bringing reliability and dependability.

Specifications

Base price $23,700 (as tested: $24,495)
Curb weight 3,333 lbs.
Displacement 1.6-liter
Epa mileage rating 25 mpg city, 37 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 16.5 gal.
Horsepower (net) 178 at 5700 rpm
Motor type 16-valve 4-cyl. EcoBoost w/DI
Overall length 191.7 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 184 at 2500 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD midsize sedan
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