Let’s forget all about the Contour
We have a lot of choices in our fleet now, but for this weekend I was looking for something spacious for 3 people and fuel efficient. My mom, brother, and I were embarking on a 1800+ mile road trip to Florida in 2 1/2 days.
My brother and I both love buttons, tech, and new gadgets in vehicles and the Fusion didn’t disappoint.
The main control screen was usually on the ‘audio’ tab for the SiriusXM radio that all three of us enjoyed and the perfect way to avoid the endless political ads on local radio. But, the ‘settings’ button can transform the interior into a colorful setting to fit any mood. There are 7 color choices to light the gear shifter, floorboards, and door handles or turn them off completely. I preferred blue and my brother liked it completely dark even dimming the dashboard lights as dim as possible. The buttons were all flawlessly well laid out and easily predictable with very little searching required.
Another new trend that all automakers are turning to is the capless fuel systems. No more lost gas caps or check engine lights due to the cap not being on tight enough. But fair warning, there is a 3 to 4 second delay in the electronic, not via cable, opening of the gas cap from the driver’s door. I’m glad at least one Ford engineer had the foresight to include a manual gas cap release from the trunk.
Powering this jewel is a 188hp 2.0 liter inline-4. It felt like half the horsepower on ‘eco’ mode which we left it on nearly the entire trip to save on fuel. Safe interstate merging required the pedal on the floorboard nearly every time, but even with the cruise control on keeping a steady 70-75mph was effortless.
The Fusion hybrid seats 5, but the trunk would be suitable only for 5 light travelers. The hybrid batteries take up a huge chunk of trunk space nearest to the rear seats. For customers with small children, a stroller, diaper bag and a single suitcase would just about fill up the rear cargo area. Note the very prominent green fuel filler release cord in the upper left corner.
The interior was stunning with the high contrasted black carpet and trim with the white leather seats (black contrasting piping and suede leather inserts would have been incredible), but the back seat is a little tight on legroom if the driver and front passenger are tall.
Immediately after taking the wheel I noticed the perfect cupholders. I don’t use that word lightly about anything automotive, but Ford nailed it! The spring loaded tabs kept my metal Yeti knock-off cup snugly in place for the trip duration and also worked great on regular plastic water bottles. The hill descent button would be great on steep downgrades and would keep the hybrid batteries charged at 100% while saving the brake pads, but it felt like putting a regular car into “L” / low gear. Ford calls it “Variable Speed Automatic”, but it felt more like a 6speed automatic vs. a whiny CVT . . . and I thank Ford for that! This was my brothers first experience with an electronic parking brake and he didn’t need any explanation on setting and releasing.
Much like the Dodge Challenger of a few weeks ago and it’s cylinder deactivation, the Fusion Hybrid has a similar fuel saving set up to either run on a combination of gas and/or battery power. This was something I hadn’t been privilege to study closely and experience while being in the driver’s seat before. If either car is on a slight decline, the engine either cuts off half the cylinders (Challenger) or the engine shuts off and runs on battery power alone or simultaneously charging the battery pack while coasting. This hybrid set up more than DOUBLES the city fuel economy of 21mpg of the non-hybrid version and adds about 10mpg to the highway rating.
The overall appearance of the Fusion Hybrid was light years away from the first rather sterile Fusion that debuted in 2005 as a 2006 model. The rear spoiler blends in beautifully into the trunk and quarter panels to create a sportier, but simpler appearance than most of the afterthought tacked on spoilers. I can’t help but wonder what a body shop would think of the styling creases on the doors, gas filler cap and rear bumper. A parking lot door ding could be unusually expensive. The 18″ wheels looked great and nearly matched the Ingot Silver Metallic paint. The standard issue Michelin tires were amazing on dry and wet pavements.
The “brake coach” was a neat tool that in essence, encouraged coasting to a stop instead of hard braking. I achieved 100% several times and the lowest ever was 48% after slamming on the brakes at a yellow (too close to red) stop light.
The dashboard is very basic, but the left and right digital screens can be changed to numerous configurations. The analog center odometer and gear display never changes. The little green car symbol with the left and right arrows below made me wonder if that was a sign of the front and rear park assist sensors were active. After searching the owners manual, we learned that it’s just notification that the car is ‘on’ and ready to drive. It seems pointless to have this light on even when moving at 75mph. I reset the trip odometer when I picked the car up as usual and was surprised to see that 425 of those 1878 miles were solely on battery power. On a long trip, I ‘take advantage’ of the prepaid fuel (like we’re instructed to sell) and see how close to zero I can get upon return. The goal is always to go 30 miles past 0, but 6 miles to empty is a pretty fair accomplishment since I refueled 260 miles away.
My mom was amazed at every start up that the gas engine wasn’t even on until there was enough pedal action to activate it. She was impressed, but not enough to take the plunge into hybrid-land and give up her beloved 2005 Camry. I took this one last picture showing ‘trip summary’ from the employee parking lot to the rental car return lot without using gasoline at all. This resets every time when the car comes to a complete stop.
The front and rear styling cues are obvious between the sibling Focus and Fiesta. The fog lights were very bright at illuminating the sides more than the front of the car. I’m one of Aston Martin’s biggest fans and I’ve never liked the obvious rip-off of the Aston Martin air intake/grille, but that started during Ford’s ownership of Aston Martin from 1994 to 2007.
Rest In Peace cousin Amanda . . . this wasn’t a good-bye trip for your celebration of life, but see you later.
Things of note:
Sticker price new $35,380 as shown.
Many dealers have brand new identical incentivized 2018s for about $31,000 leading me to believe that on a month end sale, driving one home in the high 20’s is possible.
41.4mpg on our 4-state trip is in line with the EPA stated 43CITY/41HWY.
Under 40mpg would be difficult at legal speeds.
$40,000+ Platinum AWD trim level
Buy it? Rent it? Avoid it?
As with all potentially expensive hybrid battery replacements, I’d be cautious about purchasing anything but a straight gasoline engine, but as time goes on the battery packs will get cheaper. I’d rent a Fusion Hybrid again for a 50, 500, or 5000 mile trip for the smooth ride and exceptional gas mileage alone. Thank you 112″ wheelbase!
Ford if you’re listening . . .
Could a 1.5L diesel hybrid get 55-60mpg? It seems like a class leading MPG champ is possible.
On a scale from 1-100: (1-keep your 1986 Tempo / 100-trade-in your 2018 Tesla )
Buy it now – 60
Buy it later at half the current price – 80
F.E.D. (Fun, Efficiency & Desirability) – 60
Oooh and ahhh factor – 40
Recommended – 80