By on July 20, 2017

2017 Ford Fusion Energi Cousins Shore, PEI - Image: © Timothy CainThe planning session was brief. At TTAC’s virtual HQ, also known as TTAC Slack, Steph Willems, Corey Lewis, and Adam Tonge were busy formulating an idea.

Fascinated by the Cain family’s recent move to rural Prince Edward Island, the guys wondered if, on electric power alone, Ford’s plug-in hybrid 2017 Fusion Energi SE could cross Prince Edward Island from the north side’s Gulf of St. Lawrence to the south side’s Northumberland Strait, which separates Prince Edward Island from mainland Canada.

Sure it can, I said, but that’s too easy. There are many narrow parts of Prince Edward Island. Crossing Rte. 308’s nine miles from Naufrage to Rollo Bay wouldn’t be much of a challenge.

Building on that idea, however, we developed a plan that would grant yours truly a midday office reprieve, or so I thought. From the Cain homestead in Margate, just outside the bustling metropolis of Kensington, I would depart with a fully charged 2017 Ford Fusion Energi and attempt to reach five spectacular beaches along the Gulf of St. Lawrence on PEI’s so-called Green Gables Shore.

Google Maps said I would need to travel 22 miles. The 2017 Ford Fusion Energi has 23 miles of pure EV range. This’ll be a breeze, I thought to myself, and I fled my office and TTAC’s virtual HQ minutes later, thoroughly unprepared for what came next.

2017 Ford Fusion Energi Collage - Images: © Tim CainTHE CAR

Let’s be honest. If you’re looking for an electric car that can ferry you to a Prince Edward Island beach quintet, the Ford Fusion Energi ain’t it. This conventional midsize car was simply waiting for a plug-in compromise to smack it upside the head. As a result, it’s not much of an electric car, not in an era of Chevrolet Bolts with 238 miles of range.

The Fusion Energi is also not great at being a Fusion. All of that battery technology creates a midsize Ford that weighs 3,900 pounds. 118 horsepower from the electric motor — combined system horsepower is 188 — is entirely insufficient. The plug-in hybrid accoutrements also shrink trunk capacity from the regular Fusion’s 16 cubic feet to a measly, awkwardly shaped 8 cubic feet. If you’re taking a family of five to the beach, don’t take a cooler or many beach toys. (Fortunately, the seats still fold so I was able to pick up plenty of lumber at Home Depot earlier this week.)

With all that weight, a very softened suspension, and low-rolling resistance Michelin Energy Saver A/S 235/45R18 tires, this is not the sharp, Euro-esque Fusion to which you’ve grown accustomed in the past. Brake feel is inconsistent and unpredictable, the steering lacks sharpness, body roll is all too evident, and the sole redeeming dynamic behavior is the Ford’s unimpeachable ride quality. The Fusion Energi SE is an exceptionally comfortable place to spend time, but if regular Fusions can be easily confused with drivers’ cars, this one can’t.

Nevertheless, this was the week — not during the AMG C43 Cabriolet or MX-5 RF or Odyssey Touring tests I’ve been privileged to undertake since moving to PEI — in which my esteemed colleagues devised the plan. Besides, I wasn’t going to be driving the Fusion Energi quickly on roads I normally criss-cross with enthusiasm — I had EV range to protect.

THE ROUTE

Protecting that range was going to be essential on a near 90-degree day and hilly terrain. Windows must stay up at every possible moment to preserve the Fusion’s aerodynamic profile. Air conditioning? Bozi Tatarevic insisted I forsake both A/C and audio. With rear seats folded and the passenger seat reclined to maximize aero — surely I jest — I pulled away from Margate’s relatively high traffic Rte. 6 and hit my first red dirt road seconds later.PEI maps - Images: Tourism PEI/Google MapsThe plan, so quickly developed, was perfect. I could have chosen five beaches closer together, but that would have lessened the Fusion Energi’s challenge. Moreover, a couple of those beaches required extremely rough tractor routes on which I’d prefer to drive something other than a Ford Canada-supplied Fusion press car.

I would head out to the north shore by way of Spring Valley and stop first at Thunder Cove in Darnley. Popular but far from overrun, Thunder Cove isn’t far from Twin Shores, a massive campground.2017 Ford Fusion Energi Thunder Cove Beach PEI - Image: © Timothy CainI’d then move east to Adams Beach in Sea View and then quickly examine the beach near Branders Pond Beach, as well. In Park Corner, I’d take the long hill down to Cousins Shore Beach, where there’s something that resembles an arranged parking lot and likely more than a couple of souls treading water. Finally, I’d hustle through scenic French River up to Cape Road’s Yankee Hill Beach, one of the few places I’ve visited in Prince Edward Island where swimming is cautioned against.

THE BEACHES

Typically, PEI beaches are especially safe. Once you’re down a red cliff — do be careful and stay far from the edge, erosion is happening now — or over a sandy white dune, the shore slopes gently and lazily into the water. With many summer days free from substantial surf, there are countless places to take young children to safely play at the water’s edge. This is especially true where the tide forsakes its relationship with The Island’s Northumberland Strait south shore, leaving acres of red sand on which to play golf from one sandbar to the next, at least until the tide gently eases its way back in a few hours later.2017 Ford Fusion Energi Adams Beach PEI - Image: © Timothy CainAfter telling the Fusion Energi I wanted to remain in EV mode, not Auto, and being careful not to plant the throttle too close to the mat, I was in and out of somewhat busy Thunder Cove in no time, headed for Adams Beach. There wasn’t a soul to be found at beach No.2 aside from some cottage dwellers preparing lunch on their patios behind the dunes. I still had access to an LTE network, so I sat in the Fusion with the doors open while I cropped a picture and sent it to my colleagues. Connection with the working world maintained, I set out for the beach at Branders Pond, a family favorite.

There was another car at the bottom of the hill, but my quick walk down to the beach for a photo revealed no evidence of humanity. It’s no wonder — there are 500 miles of beaches in Prince Edward Island, plenty of space for others to be elsewhere. The silence can still be totally overcome by the sound of even a small wave washing up on shore.2017 Ford Fusion Energi Branders Pond Beach PEI - Image: © Timothy CainLikewise, the eery silence of an electric car, or a Fusion plug-in hybrid doing a brief impression of an electric car, is broken up by suspensions at work, or even the hint of a squeak behind the passenger seat that surely wouldn’t be noticeable were it not for the overall hush. In general, however, the quiet of an EV’s cabin is symptomatic of luxury. It’ll be a difficult task in the near-term for automakers such as Ford to perfect NVH in cars that make next to no noise, create essentially no vibration, and scarcely understand the meaning of harshness.

Leaving the stunning backdrop of Branders Pond, I end up squeezing down the narrow Cousins Shore Road between a new Jeep Compass and an old Toyota Sienna, conscious of the Fusion’s girth and also its stunning $395 Ruby Red paint. I want to stop for photos the whole way down; the light is just so. But the traffic, oh my, the traffic. There have to be, oh, two dozen beachcombers at Cousins Shore today, some playing in the stream that leads from farmland to beach, others flattened by Canadian heat.2017 Ford Fusion Energi Cousins Shore Beach PEI - Image: © Timothy CainAs I leave Cousins Shore, however, I’m cognizant of the distance I must now travel to the farthest-flung beach on my route: French River’s Yankee Hill. Yes, hill. That means the Fusion must, at the very end of its journey, rise up from the idyllic fishing hamlet of French River past one of PEI’s many golf courses to Cape Road. Sure, I’ll then coast down the other side of Yankee Hill, past the potato fields and into the parking lot, but first the Fusion Energi has to get me there.

By the time we enter French River, not the river itself but you know what I mean, we’ve travelled farther than we were supposed to. Clearly my Google mapping wasn’t perfectly accurate, the pinpoints weren’t accurately positioned at the bottom of each hill.

 


By the time I reached French Village, I should have completed only 20.6 miles, but I’d already driven 23.3 miles, three-tenths of a mile more than the Fusion’s EV range. Though let down somewhat by higher-than-city speeds and perhaps by the heat, the Fusion Energi was aided by long downhill regen opportunities and my self-sacrificing behavior. By this point, the armrest was literally flooded with sweat and my eyebrows were raining.

There was another 1.6-mile journey to complete, but the Fusion Energi’s onboard computer was telling me I had only six-tenths of a mile of EV capability remaining.

I ease up River Road, past one of PEI’s most photographed scenes, and turn right onto Cape Road.

The suspense is killing me. Or maybe it’s the dehydration. Why didn’t Corey, Steph, Adam, or Bozi ever suggest that I go out on this grand adventure accompanied by fluids? Why didn’t Mrs. Cain, who knew about my plans for all of 30 seconds, biff bottles of refrigerated water out the door through the Fusion’s sunroof?

Hmm. Why didn’t I remember to close the garage door on my way out of Margate?

THE END

Forget my physical pain. Moments later, I was defeated.

The Fusion Energi was defeated.

We were eight-tenths of a mile from Yankee Hill Beach and the Fusion Energi’s EV mode called it quits.

But wait a second. The 2017 Ford Fusion Energi SE and I completed 24 miles of a purported 22-mile journey with 23 miles of EV range.

We’re victors.2017 Ford Fusion Energi Yankee Hill Beach PEI - Image: © Timothy CainAnd suddenly, I care a whole lot less about the abnormally soft rear end, the dearth of real power, the trunk that can’t take a cooler to the beach, and the U.S.-market $31,995 price of entry. (It’s $37,465 as-tested but currently discounted to the tune of $7,757.)

The Fusion Energi and I accomplished something together.

We beat the house. We laid waste to the laboratory tests.

Finally, after removing my flip-flops at four beaches to run into the sand for photos at Thunder Cove, Adams Beach, Branders Pond, and Cousins Shore, I take time to step into the water at Yankee Hill. Should I swim? You better believe I want to, but unprepared without proper attire or even a towel to protect the Fusion’s leather, I resist the urge.

It’s not like I’m far from any one of the five, or from numerous others, if I venture out again later.Fusion Five Beach Tour Collage - Images: © Tim CainInstead, I let the Fusion Energi’s air conditioning wash over me like a cold facecloth as I take the 11-mile journey home. See, that’s what you can do in a plug-in hybrid when you’re at your fifth beach of the day, 12 miles from the nearest EV charging station.

Get in and drive.

Maybe the 2017 Ford Fusion Energi SE isn’t The Future. But completing a 36-mile rural round trip to five pristine Prince Edward Island beaches by using only three-tenths of a gallon is a pretty fair use of the here and now.

[Images: © Timothy Cain, Tourism PEI, Google Maps]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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19 Comments on “Five Island Beaches, One 2017 Ford Fusion Energi – Can It Be Done on EV Power Alone?...”


  • avatar
    BoogerROTN

    “And suddenly, I care a whole lot less about the abnormally soft rear end, the dearth of real power, the trunk that can’t take a cooler to the beach, and the U.S.-market $31,995 price of entry. (It’s $37,465 as-tested but currently discounted to the tune of $7,757.)”

    That’s insane pricing on something that nobody wants.

    That said, one seems to be able to find sub-30K mile examples at Carmax all day long for $15-17K. The local dealer has a 2014 Energi Titanium w/29K miles for $17K…

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      These do depreciate like mad. However, at $31,995 *and* the $7,500 tax credit, the Fusion Energi may be the cheapest way to get into a well-equipped Fusion right now.

      My best friend had a 2013 model, and its year-and-a-half tenure was inexpensive, but not trouble-free. He lamented the poor handling, and the car had quite a few electronics glitches. Overall, he likes his 2017 Volt much more.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        These cars’ used prices have to be lowered to make them competitive with new ones, so most of the initial tax credit gets deducted from the used value. That’s OK, I plan to keep my new energi for many years. The tax credits assist the new car buyer, and the second owner gets a bargain, too, so everybody wins.

        Here’s my math: My C-Max Energi, loaded but no sunroof. sold for about $29,000. Come tax time, I’ll take credits of $4007 federal and $5000 state, bringing my net cost to $20,000. I took the zero-interest loan – essentially a $1000 prepaid interest payment, saving about $800 in total interest below my credit union’s best rate. The $9007 tax credit isn’t spendable, but it helps defray the cost of paying down other interest-bearing debts.

        Makes sense to me. From a strictly economic point of view, I couldn’t afford not to buy this car! Did I mention that I’ve driven 300 miles on half a tank of gas, plus about three bucks worth of watts?

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Weird looking Odyssey.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Excellent to be so close to those beaches, Too bad it’s a dang trek to have to drive 50 miles roundtrip to get to the only Home Depot on PEI for a few hunks of lumber. Be sure to show us winter scenes of the same places, in case people get the idea you’re living in paradise.

    PHEVs I regard as neither fish nor fowl. Laden down with a big battery to get you 23 miles on a good day, versus the new pure EVs or even a Leaf with 100 miles range minimum, and compromised in the acceleration, handling and braking department like all chubby objects, all you can do is feel you stuck it to the man by driving short trips on untaxed electricity for that special Gotcha feeling of Yeah! A regular hybrid makes more sense in the overall energy use department, being much lighter, but that grand feeling of saving 97 cents a day by spending 5 grand more upfront for a big battery and blowing it on a McCafe makes you just feel so good.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      There are multiple hardware stores just up the road, but by the time the work day was over last night and I made some mistakes with some fencing, I NEEDED to get it done and had to go to C’Town. I made sure to pair the HD trip with other big city tasks, of course.

      A dedicated car of this sort, Volt, for instance, makes more sense. There is nevertheless some satisfaction with plugging in a cord vs. pulling up to a pump.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        And there’s security in being able to both! I would tear my hair out with range anxiety during the past quarter of a battery charge.

        Today I was interested to watch what would happen, for the first time, when my new C-Max Energi’s initial charge ran out. The blue, AA battery-shaped icon sank lower, and lower, and blinked out. Instantly, the gas engine kicked in. I probably wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t been watching. A total non-event, unlike a flat battery in a pure EV.

      • 0 avatar
        427Cobra

        “Should I swim? You better believe I want to, but unprepared without proper attire or even a towel to protect the Fusion’s leather, I resist the urge.”

        … from the looks of those beaches, I don’t think you’d need to worry about “attire”…

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      “all you can do is feel you stuck it to the man by driving short trips on untaxed electricity for that special Gotcha feeling of Yeah”

      I know I pay taxes on my electricity. And the government has an additional hidden tax on it because the utility is public and the government skims hundreds of millions off the top of their income every year.

      Most of the money spent on roads comes out of general revenue, not gas taxes.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    My inner engineer wonders what the mileage would have been like on a reverse trip.

  • avatar
    FORDSHO

    Nice read. But, we get it, you moved to Prince Edward Island. We’re excited for you. Is the site now going to be called The Truth About PEI or the The Truth About Cars? We’re anxiously awaiting yet another review about Prince Edward Island and your recent move there. Prince Edward Isalnd, Prince Edward Island, Prince Edward Island, Prince Edward Island (there, did it for you) (Prince Edward Island) Sorry, had to throw in one more. PEI

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    My plan to make Tim ever more discomfited is working!

    *evil laugh*

  • avatar
    Miko

    I average 50 km per charge.

  • avatar
    mcw

    I own a 2014 Fusion Energi titanium — solely for the carpool sticker in California. This is so far from an enjoyable car that I am counting down the days until the sticker expires and I can get a new car. It has saved me hundreds of hours in commute time, which I guess is priceless.

    On top of the complete lack of anything remotely approaching fun to drive, the car rattles incessantly and I need a new transmission at under 60k miles. Thankfully it’s under warranty.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Interesting hypemiling example, but I suspect you could make the same trip in a Fusion 1.5 ecoboost on less than 1/2 gallon of gasoline and have twice the truck space for all the beach equipment, and save about $8,000 on the sticker price.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Our friends have a plug-in Energi that they’ve been very happy with. The wife’s 15 minute surface street commute is handled entirely electrically, in the summer they only have to fill the car up once in a few months (when they take the car on longer trips).

    Aside: just got done with a Ford Edge (Titanium, AWD, 2.0T) rental, and I finally understand what this class of crossover is all about. I always used to ask: why not get a cheaper compact CUV that has (on paper) the same amount of interior space, and better mpg? But the upgrade in how these drive is oh-so worth it. Well tuned ride/handling compromise, super quiet, super comfortable seats, 2.0T has a bit of lag at times but comes on strong and got me 26mpg in mostly highway driving at 75mph. Biggest downer was fit/finish on the exterior: multiple doors misaligned, chrome trim misaligned just like on TTAC’s test car in ’15. Interior was very good however both in materials and quality.

  • avatar
    shaker

    In a Volt, you’d be able to do this twice, run the A/C the whole time, and have plenty of room for stuff under the liftback.

  • avatar
    Joss

    I enjoyed this. We need a similar workout for the new Leaf in September. If you can get your hands on one…

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I was privileged to visit PEI twice when I lived in Canada and it is truly a gorgeous place. There are lots of hills in PEI and one I would imagine has to plan their day carefully when it comes to electric vehicles or pretty much anything else although there’s always a Sobey’s or Atlantic Superstore around the corner.
    I would imagine some of those PEI roads would make for a great rally.


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