By on November 15, 2006

l06240fusios00014552_2.jpgThere are two kinds of pistonheads: enthusiasts who experience wide-eyed, pie-in-the-sky desire for anything loudish, reddish and fast(ish); and buyers who worship at the altar of Consumer Reports, kbb and truedelta.com. If you are in my camp, words and phrases like reliability, APR, depreciation and total cost of ownership fog your mind faster than low down southern whiskey. Unfortunately, I am not rich. I am money-dumb and hoping to marry well. Meanwhile, I’ve found a vehicle capable of satisfying both the childish and the cheap.

If you isolate certain parts of Ford's Fusion they look damn good. The triple blade shaving grill, boxy headlights and oversized, triangular taillights are all boutique bling without being garish (which is about as easy to pull off as it sounds). Combined with an ultra-generic three box shape, the whole is less than some of its parts. The Fusion’s square-cut headlamps, for example, should wrap around the body like the new Edge’s illuminators. While it’s not an ugly car by any means, the Hecho en Mexico Fusion lacks the Mustang’s all-American appeal or its Japanese competitors’ pseudo-European allure.

06_ford_fusion_intdrvr.jpgThe Fusion SE’s interior is a neo-con. Speaking from the "some of the people none of the time" camp, Ford’s attempt to fool economy-minded buyers by dressing-up their latest parts bin flubbery with a slab of fake aluminum is about as convincing as Ted Haggard’s initial denials. The optional black leather seats with fat red stitching are a nice homage to Audi. Sadly, not to Recaro. That said, the rest of the cabin's ergonomics are rental car sensible and the steering wheel feels the part. Which reminds me: I've sat in Lamborghinis with more headroom and rear visibility.

There’s one terrific touch inside the least expensive Fusion: a stick and a clutch. So make that two. While the clutch is as good as you could hope for in terms of action, travel and feel, the five-speed shifter is a loose, rubbery mess. And I love it. As I loved the sloppy, floppy six-speed lever found in Mazda's Speed6. Sure, there is a time and a place for perfectly sorted mechanicals. But there is also something to be said for less-than ideal kit that challenges and rewards a driver. And before any of you say that I'm giving Ford a pass, the stick feels exactly the same as the device found in the M3.

06_ford_fusion_rear34.jpgRelease that excellent clutch and the Fusion’s 2.3-liter Duratec I4 unleashes all 160 horses upon its unsuspecting front wheels. Yes folks, the tires chirp. And the four-banger whirs and hisses. And the steering-wheel forces you to fight. And 60mph shows up in a decidedly last-century 9.3 seconds. The quarter-mile? Let's just say that Hank Ford Sr. would have been prouder of his Nazi medals. There isn't a square-jawed man (or woman) on the planet that wouldn’t exit the Fusion after some drag-stripping and demand fifty more horses. But in the real world… it works.

Thanks to 156 ft.-lbs. of twist at 4250rpm, the Fusion’s passing power lives on the right side of more-than-merely-adequate. Judging from the sounds coming from the engine bay, listening to the aggressive buzz saw of a mill do its thing, it’s hard to believe you're whipping a straight-four. In fact, the Fusion SE’s four-pot sounds (and performs) better than the frumpy old 3.0-liter V6 found in the Fusion SEL.

Colin Chapman eat your heart out; the 3101-pound Fusion sports a double wishbone (front) and multilink (rear) suspension. The relatively svelte front wheel-drive Fusion SE provides a remarkably rigid, stable and responsive platform for adrenalin-oriented drivers. Find your favorite back roads, build up a bit of steam and this budget-priced mid-sizer can cut some mean asphalt. Unless you’re actively looking for it, there’s not even a hint of understeer to mar rapid progress. Response is both neutral and eager.

06_fusion_black_running.jpgIn deeply challenging situations– we’re talking the kind of road with more curves than an episode of the Biggest Loser– the Fusion will plow towards the scenery nose-first. But you know what? I’ve taken a BMW 3-Series through the same corners and it plowed, too. In fact, the Fusion does better through the tricky stuff than a Mustang GT. And the Ford’s binders are brilliant, fully capable of hauling you to a stop before a close encounter of the tree kind. Go Mazda! I mean, go Ford!

Combine the above with mpg’s in the high-20s, JD-pleasing reliability, the ability to transport five-adults in comfort and ladies and gentlemen, I think we have found the performance deal of the year. Oh, you want to talk about depreciation relative to the foreign-owned competition? Hang on; I’ll be right back.

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96 Comments on “Ford Fusion SE Review...”


  • avatar
    ash78

    Very nice review, Jonny. This car just went up a little on my list of replacements for my wife’s 4-y-o Saturn L200 when the time comes (although it’s been rock solid dependable, though boring). Wagonwagonwagonwagonwagon! Can’t say it enough. I’ll have to drive one the next time my in-laws have one of their Fords at the dealer for service. So, pretty soon. ;)

    I really wish manufacturers would work harder to eliminate torque steer in FWD apps. I know it’s probably very tough with transverse engines, but surely they’re aware of the drawbacks, right? (otoh, my equal-half-shafts longitudinal FWD V6 can do quick acceleration hands-free, if you’re so inclined. It spoils you)

  • avatar

    I’m seeing excellent repair rates for the Fusion, especially considering that it’s a first-year car.

    Granted, I only have data on 20 cars so far. But the repair rate I’m seeing, 0.4 trips to the shop per year, is identical to the rate I’m seeing for 27 2006 Accords, which isn’t a first-year car. Average odometer reading at the time of the surveys: 6900 miles for the Ford, 7300 miles for the Honda.

    In contrast, the 2007 Dodge Caliber (29 cars, 5700 avg miles) has had a repair rate of 1.4 trips/year.

    More info on TrueDelta’s research:

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Michael is the other kind of piston head. So sleepy…

  • avatar
    BrendanMac

    My Ford is built by Mazda as well, and I love it. Because it’s a Mazda.

    Here’s my question: Unless you’re a sales rep for Gillette, is this thing really better than just buying a Mazda6? It’s not like they aren’t giving those things away too.

    AND you can get yourself a wagon, Ash.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Brendan, good point–if only I could talk my wife into it, since it would be her car… (she’s more style-oriented and is put off by the overly-boy-racerish cues that Mazda has adopted for everything).

  • avatar
    dolo54

    Ok I might’ve mentioned this before, but here it is again. To get a fwd car to not understeer use the handbrake when going into a high speed turn. It just brakes the rear wheels and if you pull it hard enough it will lock up those wheels and you will go into a oversteer/powerslide. It’s really great fun and makes the most of a fwd setup. Whenever it’s raining I go nuts with the handbrake. I love coming to a sideways stop in the rain. To answer ash – the only thing that really helps the torque steer is a limited slip dif – it comes standard on the new civic si, which is pretty cool of them because it’s a $2000 part.

  • avatar
    durailer

    Great review Jonny. You put this car on my radar.

    My only wish is that Ford gives the interior a heavy makeover.
    Maybe Ford can raid Volvo’s parts bin and strap a turbo on this 4-banger, if only to get the 0-60 ’round about 7 seconds.

    If Ford can give the FiveHundred and Freestyle an exterior refresh to match this baby brother, they might move metal the way their trucks do.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    dolo — that’s oversteer — not under.

    I can get any FWD car — [i]any[/i] — to understeer.

    and so can you.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    yes Jonny I said using the handbrake gets you to NOT understeer. ;-)

  • avatar
    kaisen

    Maybe Ford can raid Volvo’s parts bin and strap a turbo on this 4-banger, if only to get the 0-60 ’round about 7 seconds.

    Or just take the MazdaSpeed 3’s 263hp direct-inject turbo version of the same 2.3L Duratec engine and get to 60 in ’round about 6.

  • avatar
    BimmerHead

    …Combined with an ultra-generic three box shape, the whole is less than some of its parts…

    not to be a nit-picker, but was this intentional poetic license, or did you mean SUM of it’s parts?

  • avatar
    ash78

    When the whole is less than the sum of its parts, I think the term is “ge-stalled”

    puntastic!

  • avatar

    >>The triple blade shaving grill, boxy headlights and oversized, triangular taillights are all boutique bling without being garish

    By definition, bling is garish.

  • avatar

    Jonny Lieberman:
    Michael [Karesh] is the other kind of piston head. So sleepy…

    This was my biggest laugh for the week so far.

    Seriously, Jonny, some of us have elements of both kinds in us.

  • avatar
    86er

    Brendanmac:

    The Fusion is on a stretched 6 platform, so it’s a little bit roomier than the 6.

    It may be an unqualified overstatement to call it “a Mazda”.

  • avatar
    phil

    you’ve lost cred with me; “the five-speed shifter is a loose, rubbery mess” and then equate that with the M3 manual is ludicrous. i’ve driven them both, own an E46 M3, and you must have been smokin something when you drove one or both cars. the 2-3 shift is sometimes rubbery in the M3 but not once you learn how to use it. TTAC just went down a big notch.

  • avatar
    MB

    Has the looks of a refined Accord 1994-1998!

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Phil — come on now.

    By your own admission the M3’s shifter makes you work for it (2 to 3 being quite a critical gear change) and I would bet that you like the lever more because of it.

    Both shifters are massive long-throwers with way too much travel. And I like them both. Though in the M3 I would prefer something more akin to Mazda’s MX-5 — which is essentially perfect.

    In the Fusion and the M3 you row the gears, quite literally.

    In the Miata (or maybe more appropriately, in the Boxster), you snick ’em.

    snick snick

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Ok I might’ve mentioned this before, but here it is again. To get a fwd car to not understeer use the handbrake when going into a high speed turn.

    Dolo: that works in a pinch, but not the fastest or safest way around a corner by any means. If the Fusion accepts a Mazdaspeed6 rear swaybar (or similar), that’s the way to get flat cornering and a touch of oversteer when pushed hard.

    Nice review, JL. This thing would be a torque-steering rocketship with a 100hp shot from the MKZ’s parts bin. Total sleeper.

  • avatar

    Hmmn, ok, we’ve just read a very good review of a very American car (you know what I mean, don’t bother me about actual build location), and one of the first comments is, “Can’t you just go and buy the Mazda6?”

    Boy, some of you guys absolutely cannot stand the concept of earned praise for an American car that is worth buying, can you?

  • avatar
    maxo

    So you are saying the 2-3 shift in your M3 is rubbery but you like it once you learned it. I remember reading somewhere that “there is also something to be said for less-than ideal kit that challenges and rewards a driver”, I wonder where I read that? Maybe whoever wrote that interesting bit should go up a notch.

  • avatar
    Joe Chiaramonte

    “I am not rich. I am money-dumb and hoping to marry well.” – LOL

    Great review for a car that brings hope. I have been wondering why I’ve been seeing more Fusions around lately, in advance of the recent reliability ratings (sales based on those positive results are still on the way), and now maybe I have a clue.

    I’m reminded that the 1990 Maxima SE I drove for about a year only had 160 ponies (from its V6) to pull about 3000 pounds, and it felt good. But, that was then. I wonder how it would feel now.

    Work on tweaking 21st-century power out of the 4-pot, make the gearbox snick, make the exhaust system sound good, work on the interior, and you’ve got a contender.

    Ford, my fingers are crossed.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    Perhaps you’re right Sajeev… I’ve practiced it so much it just comes naturally to me, but here are a couple good articles about fwd oversteer: one | two

    I’ve tried the left foot braking, but it’s really like writing with my left hand. I need a lot more practice with it. That being said… since I’ve been stuck with fwds most of my life I’ve learned to have a lot of fun with them.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    Also with the moden racer article – the author speaks of locking up the rear wheels, but you don’t have to, a lot of times I use a little foot-brake with a gentle tug on the hand-brake to get the rear-wheel brake bias described. I didn’t know about the terminology, just what my car does when I do it.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Great review Johnny I love the line about the goofy shifter and you like it You are a true piston head.Who the hell wants perfect anyway.I think it puts the fun and skill back into driving.
    Johnny beg TTAC to let you review the new Chevy trucks

  • avatar
    Mud

    You’ve gotta be kidding – I coughed up a Junior Mint reading this review!

    I had the misfortune of being in a rental Fusion for a little over a week and the longer I had it, the more I looked forward to its return to the Avis return lot.

    OK, there IS a plus side – it’s not too bad looking and the brakes and suspension are quite good.

    My main contention(s) are in regards to the horrible ergonomics in the thing and the pitiful driveline. I am stunned that you talk about the I4 with such praise.

    From inside the car, you can’t see any thing below the windshield of any car coming up within a stone’s throw, due to that big booty of a raised rear decklid.

    I really got tired of hitting the trunk release and/or headlight switch with my knee every time I got in or out of the car, plus I could never get the seat position “right”. Close, yes, right, no.

    Other cars got really tired of me flashing the high beams at them when signaling for a turn – the stalk is positioned very awkwardly and upwardly, causing you to have to reach up and forward for it.

    Every time I closed a door or especially the trunk lid, I though something was going to come loose.

    I gave up trying to figure out and reset the “info center”.

    Driveline – the combination of the I4 and an auto is an embarrassment. Even a slight freeway grade incline would cause the car to shift out of overdrive and make a sustained pitiful wail simply to keep the speed at the posted limit. Forget about short on-ramps. Engine was always consistent though – you could always hear it no matter what.

    Most buyers will wind up with the auto and I can’t see getting anything less than a V6 with it. The 4 is totally out of its league.

    If this car represents the advancement of Ford, then no wonder they are in the toilet. This is really simple stuff and they got a lot of it all wrong. If you are looking for a car, skip this one and get a used Accord or something.

    Am I a Ford-hater? Not at all. Upon my return home I breathed a sigh of relief getting into my “old” 95 Crown Vic Interceptor.

  • avatar
    ash78

    sykerocker
    we’ve just read a very good review of a very American car (you know what I mean, don’t bother me about actual build location), and one of the first comments is, “Can’t you just go and buy the Mazda6?”

    In all fairness, any time a platform mate or badgeneered version is reviewed, that’s one of the first issues that comes up. Completely valid. I’d look at the dealerships in your area to make the decision. That one thing can make more difference than anything else in your ownership experience (at least for the warranty period).

    I feel the concern about lack of wagon and lack of suped-up 2.3t version are very pertinent to the discussion.

  • avatar
    Walter Pabst

    Sounds like a fun car to punish. Give me the smallest tires available for maximum squealablity.

    Awesome review.

  • avatar
    BrendanMac

    sykerocker
    we’ve just read a very good review of a very American car (you know what I mean, don’t bother me about actual build location), and one of the first comments is, “Can’t you just go and buy the Mazda6?”

    I suppose my comment was based on, “Why is it worth buying?”
    That is, is it cheaper, roomier, more features, etc, etc. Now I know it’s not just a Mazda6 with ‘Mazda’ crossed out and ‘Ford’ written in in crayon, but they are very, very similar vehicles and I’m not sure why you would pick the Fusion over its stable mate. I’m not saying there aren’t reasons, I’m just asking what those reasons are.

    For me, my ford (and we’re talking fairly crap old cars here) came in a roomier liftback, which is why I bought it and not the basically identical mazda.

    I wasn’t flaming the ford because its an infidel-mobile or something.

  • avatar
    Hutton

    If you want choices, you would go with the 6… sedan, hatch, or wagon, with a manual option for either engine.

    Then there’s styling, which is subjective…
    Ford is going with:
    generic-euro-sedan + razorblade-grille = ‘Bold’ (almost) American (not quite) style

    Mazda is going with:
    2 available shades of purple, and the worst tail-lights ever not sourced from pep-boys.

  • avatar
    johnnycam

    Just bring back the damn SHO – just DO IT!

  • avatar
    86er

    Brendanmac
    That is, is it cheaper, roomier, more features, etc, etc.

    Yes, yes, and now with all-wheel-drive, arguably yes.

  • avatar
    Taotie

    Last I checked there were a lot more than two kinds of enthusiasts. I like the look of cars, and drool at Bugatti Type 57s. My wife loves responsive suspension, a twisting road, and enough power, but loves a quiet car. That’s why she’s owned five sports cars, thus far. A friend wants to use a car as a “crumpet catcher” to attract girls while another wants to convince the entire world he’s rich and downright elegant. You left all of us out.

  • avatar
    Hutton

    86er: Yes, yes, and now with all-wheel-drive, arguably yes.

    Real all wheel drive (rear-biased, or symetrical) with the stick, would be a much more compelling option. I’ll never understand why adding AWD with most manufacturers will delete your stick option. Lexus and Infiniti make this mistake as well. At least Audi and Subaru know whats up.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    Mud,

    This is a economy car, in the class of Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, etc that people care more about fuel economy than torque. Comparing it to a Crown Vic V8 is not an apple to apple comparison.

  • avatar
    Mervich

    I can’t get past the tasteless plastic bling-bling that Ford seems to think is necessary everywhere on their entire line-up (even to chromed plastic hubcaps that Ford calls “chrome clad” wheels on the new Eddie Bauer Explorer). From grill to taillights, the Fusion screams cheap! Speaking of the taillights, they look as if they’ve been adorned with a Wal Mart add-on trim kit.

    In the 60’s, when I was a teenager, Ford interiors had the appearance of being stamped from a big piece of cheap vinyl covered cardboard. By the late 80’s – early 90’s, Ford was beginning to show much nicer appearing and better thought-out interior designs. In the last couple of years, it seems Ford is progressively returning to the 60’s stamped from vinyl covered cardboard look. IMO the Fusion was likely named for the fusion of cheap plastic to stamped cardboard. Most of us would call that glue.

    And let’s not say, “Oh he’s just another anti-American, anti-Ford guy!” I have owned four Eddie Bauer Explorers and my wife currently owns a Taurus.

  • avatar
    Hutton

    PandaBear: Comparing it to a Crown Vic V8 is not an apple to apple comparison.

    Obviosly, but who cares. He’s comparing a car he’s driven with a car he owns. Seems valid.

  • avatar

    I’m just curious…

    …I’ve driven 3 Fusions now, and I’m 6’5″. The remark about the headroom is kinda puzzling, as I was very comfortable.

    That wasn’t the only odd bit, but it qualifiestoward the top.

    I gotta add that I found the 3.0 far superior to the 2.3, although I wished for a manual with the 6.

    Strange, strange review.

  • avatar
    86er

    Hutton:
    Real all wheel drive (rear-biased, or symetrical) with the stick, would be a much more compelling option. I’ll never understand why adding AWD with most manufacturers will delete your stick option. Lexus and Infiniti make this mistake as well. At least Audi and Subaru know whats up.

    I agree that Ford’s AWD system is far from sophisticated. But I’m not crazy about the whole AWD craze anyhow, especially ones with front-bias. Hello gigantic repair bills in a few years!

  • avatar
    johnnycam

    Hutton – don’t forget Volvo – the Swedish Ford – V70R – AWD and 6 speed stick, and 300 HP

  • avatar
    Hutton

    ^fair enough. and bonus points for being a wagon…. if only they could bring to market a 300hp AWD 6spd C30, I’d be first in line.

    i think we may have drifted off topic.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Chick Corea, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Herbie Hancock…

    Now they know how to do fusion.

  • avatar
    dror

    Is this the same 2.3l sitting under the hood of my Mazda 3 S?, if yes, I agree to every praise!

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    Well, here is my question. My can’t those two kinds of enthusiasts be combined. There are any number of cars that I would love to drive on occaision, but not want to own. Can’t a guy get fun to drive without a leak in the rear main seal (thinking of porsche here). You know automobile recently ranked all of the new and upcoming cars on how fun to drive they are. Where is my list of best to own? Now I’m not just talking most reliable, but reliable and fun to drive. I’m always happy to have fun, but a car that is always in the shop is not fun to own. I’d rather own an MX-5 or civic SI that some of the competition that might be better, but that you drive less than your mechanic.

  • avatar
    msowersone

    I remeber equally positive review when the MT5 came ou in the mid 1980’s. I have not seen one on the road in 10 years because Ford’s just don’t have the durability. How many Honda Accords do you see from the era on the road today? Plenty. So no matter what JD or CR says we all know the thing will be in the junk year inside ten years.

  • avatar
    Jim H

    I’ve always found that with a front wheel drive, I simply gently nudge the brake with my left foot, apply the hand brake, turn the AC on high and slightly crack the right, rear window. It’s a blast.

    (Yes, that was a joke)

  • avatar
    taxman100

    Mud,

    This is a economy car, in the class of Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, etc that people care more about fuel economy than torque. Comparing it to a Crown Vic V8 is not an apple to apple comparison.

    Actually, if you look at the price out the door on a base Grand Marquis vs. a Milan with an automatic, from a cost point of view, it is fairly valid.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Zanary:

    You’re tall, so you probably slide the seat fairly far back away from the slope of the roof. You probably also lean your seat back to some degree.

    I sit bolt upright (proper racing position) fairly close to the wheel and there was no headroom whatsoever.

    I don’t think I would like the Fusion with the 2.3L and an Auto, but with a manual, I will take it every time over the 3.0L. Now… stick the 3.5L from the Edge/MKZ into the Fusion…. with a stick… can somebody say SHO?

  • avatar
    dean

    I like the looks of the Fusion, save for the tail lights. Undeniably ugly. Someone tell Ford that the clear lens trend (which I gather they were going for) is already over, especially when so poorly executed.

    And what is it with domestic interiors?

  • avatar
    Jim H

    The Ford Fusion commercial with the (very hot) gal buying some of the dry-cleaning bill to the stud in the mustang behind her is very well done. Good marketing approach.

    The Fusion looks decent to me…but now that I have the tri-blade image in my head…I’m curious if I can see the car ever again in the same way (similar to the Tribeca being a vagina or fallopian tubes or something…).

    A Ford Escort (manual) was my very first “new” car. I still really have great memory of that car. At 80K miles, it still ran great as long as I was going 75mph or under. :)

  • avatar
    ash78

    The “Altezza” (IS300) taillights are so disgustingly old and busted it’s not even funny. The best part is how they’re always pitched aftermarket as “Euro-style” taillights, when I can’t think of a single European car that uses them as OE. Around here, it’s all just pickup drivers and the usual array of Honda people.

    They look incredibly stupid and out of place on every single car I’ve ever seen them on. Stick with red, multicolored, or better yet, smoke them.

  • avatar
    Mud

    “This is a economy car, in the class of Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, etc that people care more about fuel economy than torque. Comparing it to a Crown Vic V8 is not an apple to apple comparison”.

    I understand where you are coming from, but to tell the truth I’m kinda on the fence on that as not being apples to apples.

    Here’s what I’m getting at, and I think that it could be reasonably applied to vehicles that the readers here own as well …… just apply your own car info instead of mine.

    Mileage on my 95 CV is a steady 21 combined city/hiway, better of course on the highway. Car’s got 140K miles on it. It is comfortable, stable, runs great, and handles reasonably well due to the cop suspension. Since the car is paid for, my costs are insurance/fuel/maintenance, that sort of thing. In general, this has been a very dependable AND economical car for me to own. So, as I look to see what else out there may be a suitable replacement, I look for improvements over what I have now. Bird in the hand …

    I wanted to like the Fusion, I really did. But if I’m going to fork over any sum of dinero for it, it had better make me look at my current ride and be dissatisfied and think, “man, I need to replace this old heap – that Fusion is the cat’s meow!”.

    Just did not happen – for me, the years between 1995 and 2006 were evidently wasted in terms of product design and implementation. I expected cutting edge and all I got was blunt trauma.

    The increase in mileage from low to high 20’s is not enough in my view to offset the cost of the new car, especially with the abysmal positioning of controls. I’m sure the V6 version is much better in terms of beans under the hood, so I won’t talk about the flavorless I4 anymore, but the interior and exterior design is not something that can be changed – you have to live with that on a daily basis. And I’m not willing to do that.

    Anyway, does Ford understand that to me, newer is not necessarily better? I want to see tangible differences and improvements across the board, better interior surfaces, switchgear, solidity in design and feel, tangible and realistic driveline choices – c’mon, throw me some kind of a bone here!

    It’s just hit and miss on the same car – some stuff is good and some is so backwards you just wonder…

  • avatar
    86er

    dean:
    And what is it with domestic interiors?

    An improvement’s an improvement. As far as “domestic interiors” go, this one isn’t bad – soft-touch materials, a little dash of the ol’ fake chrome, logical controls, even contrast stiching on the leather.

    The throttle response on the V6 was strange, however. Is that a Japanese thing to push the accelerator down a few centimetres before you get any response? Somehow I doubt it, but was puzzled with this.

  • avatar
    ash78

    86er,

    A lot of newer cars have drive-by-wire throttles, most of which–from my experience–have sluggish pedal response and lurch off the line. That may be the case here, and it’s especially pronounced with slushboxes when you can’t use the clutch to compensate.

  • avatar
    86er

    ^^
    Oh, that’s what that was. That’s unfortunate.

    You’ll have to forgive my ignorance, my last two vehicles have been an 86 Silverado and a 00 Dakota. I have enough trouble with the delay on the Dakota whereupon under harder acceleration the electronics delay the throttle response while they figure out the air/fuel mixture.

  • avatar
    nweaver

    Brendan: The ford is streched a bit, so its a bit larger inside than the Mazda6. It also I think is slightly cheaper (made in mexico rather than made in the USA with UAW labor).

    OTOH, the Mazda6 is available as a 5-door or wagon, and you can get the V6 with manual.

  • avatar
    johnnycam

    Jonny says

    “Now… stick the 3.5L from the Edge/MKZ into the Fusion…. with a stick… can somebody say SHO?”

    I did. I did. I did say SHO! and I’ll say it again: SHO!

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    The Altezza tailights are so ’90’s, but “smoked”??!?

    That’s so….1987 Firebird!

  • avatar
    lzaffuto

    “sykerocker:
    November 15th, 2006 at 1:38 pm
    Hmmn, ok, we’ve just read a very good review of a very American car (you know what I mean, don’t bother me about actual build location), and one of the first comments is, “Can’t you just go and buy the Mazda6?”

    Boy, some of you guys absolutely cannot stand the concept of earned praise for an American car that is worth buying, can you?”

    It’s a Mazda6 with a Ford badge slapped on it and built in Mexico. “Very American”, indeed. How about “Nothing American about it”. Except maybe some of the styling (parts like the tailights draw inspiration from overseas still).

    That said, it’s still a great car, especially from an unlikely source. Too bad they don’t sell well here… and I’m in the middle of the “if you don’t buy domestic you’re a liberal commie pinko terrorist” South.

  • avatar

    People keep assuming that the Fusion is posting good quality scores because it’s based on the Mazda6.

    Only one problem with this logic, which I should have mentioned earlier:

    The Mazda6 hasn’t had great reliability scores.

  • avatar
    Jon Furst

    It’s a Mazda6 with a Ford badge slapped on it? How many of you would even know it shared a platform with the Mazda6 if you weren’t told?

    TTAC: Home of the platform superdetectives.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    So Jon:

    Strength through ignorance? Is this what you are advocating?

  • avatar
    Jon Furst

    Jonny:

    Not at all, I’m just saying that it seems like a pretty weak criticism of the car given that almost no one could tell that they even share a platform, given that they don’t look much alike.

    Regular humans are much, much more likely to see the resemblance to the Mercury Milan and consider that as a “Ford Fusion with a Mercury badge slapped on it”. Only TTAC’s platform superdetectives will be able to spot the shared platform that lies beneath.

    lzaffuto, to the unique-aluminum-spaceframe-mobile!

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Well… yeah, except that [i]every[/i] mention of the Fusion I have ever seen in print or on the web also happens to say, “Mazda!!!”

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    the mercury one is cool lookin. does it come with a 4 banger too. too? I like 4’s.

  • avatar
    BrendanMac

    Is it really cheaper than the Mazda6? You can get a fairly whopping discount on a ‘6, finance for 60 months @ 0%, and have a higher resale. Just saying.

    I don’t really like the mazda6, I just think you’d have to have a very good reason to buy a mexican-built ford version of it. It’s the same with Saabs, why not just buy the original? Unless the Ford is MUCH less expensive, or is MUCH roomier, or has better QC, or you REALLY love the styling, you’ve got to at least strongly consider the Mazda.

    Why the hell don’t they just give us a Falcon?

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    J-Devil,

    Don’t know, but I saw the merc parked next to the Fusion at the Ford Depot and it is a better looking ride.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    yeah make the merc into a wagon like the mazda 3 or 6, oh baby. now we’re talkin.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    As an interesting aside, Ford just announced that it’s highly hyped Edge is delayed:

    http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/061115/ford_edge_delay.html?.v=2

    On the Fusion/Mazda6 issue: If I were to buy either one it would be the Ford/Mercury/Lincoln. The Mazda 6 interior and exterior design are just a bit too George Jetson for me.

  • avatar
    ChartreuseGoose

    It’s a Mazda6 with a Ford badge slapped on it and built in Mexico.

    Except every panel is different, the wheelbase is different, the suspension is substantially different, the floorpan is different, the interior is different, and the track is wider. But other than that, you’re absolutely correct.

  • avatar
    ChartreuseGoose

    Why the hell don’t they just give us a Falcon?

    Because it would be impossible to cost-effectively modify it for RHD, impact standards, and emissions, and because it wouldn’t be worth it to import one of the most mediocre barges on the face of the Earth to the US, where its crappy handling, cramped interior, and agricultural-sounding engine would put it at even more of a disadvantage than the Fusion is at. In a nutshell.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    BrendenMac, you are spot on here. Ive owned four 6’s, logged over 90K miles on them, and the fusion/milan is no match for these cars…on any level.

    Jetsonesque Mazda 6 compared to the fusion? You have got to be kidding me. If the Mazda is Jetson, the Fusion is Spacely Sprockets!

  • avatar
    rodster205

    lzaffuto:
    “… and I’m in the middle of the “if you don’t buy domestic you’re a liberal commie pinko terrorist” South. ”

    Where in the Wide World of Sports do you live? A trailer park? Mississippi? (just kidding, thank God for MS, you make us look good…)

    Here in Alabama import cars probably sell 2-1 better than “Merican”, at least in the under-65 market. I bet it is about even in the truck-SUV market, but anywhere near a metro area the 4runners, Highlaners, Odesseys, and Pilots are everywhere. Sure the Tah-kons and Exploders are aplenty but hardly dominant.

    I’m pretty certain GA is the same and probably FL. Don’t know about SC-NC or the Yankee “southerners” up in KY/VA/MD.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    My personal experience with Mazda is they are nothing to write home about. Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but I post-divorce I bought a 92 Miata with 29,000 miles – it had never been in the snow, etc. – a real garage queen. Between there and 58,000 miles when I sold it five years later, the battery died twice, radio had a short in it, lost a syncro in the transmission, and the paint quality was way below the Taurus I owned at the same time – tons of paint chips from rocks etc. Oh yeah, the airbag light flashed intermittently as well.

    I did make a ton selling it – people are crazy about them used, but to be honest, I never really liked the car.

    Newer Mazda’s are just plain ugly.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Taxman — drive a new Mazda.

    Or Fusion

  • avatar
    BrendanMac

    Because it would be impossible to cost-effectively modify it for RHD, impact standards, and emissions, and because it wouldn’t be worth it to import one of the most mediocre barges on the face of the Earth to the US, where its crappy handling, cramped interior, and agricultural-sounding engine would put it at even more of a disadvantage than the Fusion is at. In a nutshell.

    I know what you’re saying makes sense, but all I hear in my head is the musical roaring of Aussie V8s pouring through a hairpin turn.

    Anyways, the whole “bold moves” thing probably cost as much as the modifications would.

  • avatar
    BrendanMac

    My personal experience with Mazda is they are nothing to write home about

    But that’s anecdotal. My wife has a ’90 626 GT with 375,000 kms on it that hasn’t even had an electrical problem (and it’s turbo), and I had a ’88 MX6 GT that ran the quarter (several times) in 14.2 with 290,000 kms on the clock.

    Not every mazda is going to be as reliable as that, but it all balances out in the end.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Forget about reliability (see the first paragraph I wrote — snore), Mazda’s are great drivers’ cars.

    The MX-5 Miata is one of the best handling cars on the road, period.

    The Speed6 is a clumsy brute, but man does it love to be spanked and beat and whipped and flogged — great fun.

    Speed3 (which I haven’t drive) is supposedly as good as everyone says.

    The CX-7 (for an unnecissarily tall, fat thing) handles great

    And this Fusion… really a fantastic handling car.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    I have an 04 Mazda6s that has been worry free. It did have one recall to reflash the memory having to do with emissions monitoring. Quite frankly, that is not what I would call a serious defect unlike the problems I had with an 02 Vue that, I’m ashamed to admit, I owned before the Mazda.

  • avatar

    Hmm … wasn’t someone recently saying that the Fusion should offer AWD like the MazdaSpeed6? Looks like it does. http://www.fordvehicles.com/cars/fusion/index.asp?intcmp=B_FVBM_FVHP_FUS_0920&v=html

    Nice review. The interior doesn’t look that bad. Maybe I’ll have to check out my mother’s new one soon.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Max

    The interior is pretty bad. But, considering that you could most likely walk out of a dealership with a brand new Fusion for about $15,00o or so, who cares?

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Only one problem with this logic, which I should have mentioned earlier: The Mazda6 hasn’t had great reliability scores.

    Nor is it made in the same factory. Judging by the Consumer Reports findings on the Fusion, the assembly plant in Mexico really nailed their Six Sigma goals. Good for them.

    I did. I did. I did say SHO! and I’ll say it again: SHO!

    Well I’ll say it too…this Fusion has what the MT-5 never did, but we need a SHO. Right now, dammit!

  • avatar
    pb35

    My 2005 6 Sport Wagon has been fairly reliable in it’s first 16 mos. and 16k. I had the clutch replaced at 13k and the radio was exchanged also. My 96 Ford Probe GT (built at the same plant) was a little more reliable. It’s weird, the Probe was a Ford with a Mazda engine and the Mazda has a Ford powerplant. I like the 6 but I am getting bored with it. Getting the new car bug badly. I don’t think me and the 6 were meant to be together.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    A new clutch at 13k?

    That is not reliable.

  • avatar
    pb35

    I know, I know. I didn’t feel like typing the whole story out in the office. I bring my car in to the local Mazda dealer because the clutch pedal “clicks” when I release it. The clutch action was fine otherwise although it did grab a bit high. Nevertheless, I never thought I would get a whole new clutch out of the deal. So the first time I bring the problem up Mazda says that I need a new clutch master cylinder to rectify my problem. Fine, order the part. The part arrives a few weeks later and I bring it back. Around 4:30 that day I start getting antsy so I call the dealer. They are replacing the clutch disc and pressure plate along with the master cylinder. Cool, free new clutch at 13k. Apparently there is a service bulletin for the 03-05 Mazda 6 so clutch replacements are somewhat commonplace. Something like the material that the disc is made out of is substandard.

    In any event, I get back in the car and the pedal STILL makes the same noise and continues to. Very annoying and I really don’t have the time or the energy to keep taking it back. I’m going to take it to the dealer where I bought it for my next oil change and have them take a look. Another weird thing, they did a whole clutch job and the mileage on the odo didn’t move a mile. Don’t you think they would have done even a brief test drive after such a large job? Experiences like this can turn you off to a brand not to mention the hit I’ll take if I decide to trade it.

  • avatar
    confused1096

    I love the look of the Fusion. I finally had a chance to go to the closest ford dealership and drive one yesterday. I’d researched it on the ‘net, drooled at the pictures, and had visions of ordering my new Fusion.
    Then I drove it. Spot on Johnny! No head room. I’m 6’3. After lowering the seat as far as it would go at the first light I was still scraping my hair on the roof. I disgustedly pulled into a Taco Bell parking lot and let the salesman drive us back.
    Please, please Ford–make this car fit grown-ups!:)

  • avatar
    niky

    I don’t comment here much, but I find it funny that Lieberman finds the Fusion a fun drive, yet can’t find any joy in the Mini? What’s up with that?

    Still, if the Fusion’s relation to the Mazda6 is anything like the new Focus’s relation to the Mazda3, then I guess it should be a swell car. The new Focus takes that “front-wheel-drive BMW” feel that the Protege and Mazda3 have, and slathers it with a little bit of “rides like a BMW” (errh… without run-flats). An absolute blast on track, even with the puniest engine available. Rides terribly well, feels like it’s hewn out of solid iron, and very sharp and predictable.

    RE: Mazda quality: Long time Mazda owner here… I’ve had to deal with hard-to-find parts, annoying sensor problems and the like… and I’ve seen Mazda/Ford ATs bomb long before their expiration date. Yet, I’ve also seen some Mazda vehicles hold up to 15 years of abuse pretty well.

    But I still went for a new Ford/Mazda (and, by the way, despite the suspension differences, the Fusion still has a Mazda heart) simply because I like to drive. These things are fun… as long as nothing’s broken.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    niky,

    The Mini is fun, but it does not live up to its hype says me.

    The Fusion has no hype and me says that lots of people should know about it.

    Honestly, I would much rather drive a Fusion.

  • avatar
    Joe ShpoilShport

    Jonny:

    Was that line about “lowdown southern whiskey” of Little Feat influence?

  • avatar

    Yes.

  • avatar
    urnews

    I own a 2007 V6 SEL AWD (MSRP $27,105) Fusion, and it's one sweet ride. It gets lots of admiring looks, which is a plus. We, the wife and I, just couldn't bring ourselves to buy a "plain Jane" Asian look-the-same car. Sure the Fusion began with a modified Mazda frame and the 3.0-liter engine, although refined, is a tried and true mil. We like the fact that it was created from the ground up using the latest in computer technology. I definitely consider the Fusion to be a bold move by Ford and hope to have this baby for many years to come.

  • avatar
    Lamborghini48907

    “Go Mazda! I mean, go Ford!”

    Exactly. Go Mazda, without them, this wouldn’t exist. Ford couldn’t make this on its own, everyone knows that.

  • avatar
    chamar

    Well before buying our mid-sized sedan we test drove practically anything in this segment, except the Camry, never been a Toyota styling fan, even though we had an 86 Land Cruiser for 7 years and clocked over 1.3 million KM.

    Anyways, Mazda may be great for an individual searching for a fashion statement while still looking for the perceptive Japanese reliability.

    However, after test driving both cars, I found that the ford’s throttle was more responsive especially when one throw’s the car in a wild U-Turn (my road safe handling test).

    The ford was also the roomier of the two, and considering that I was in the market for leasing a car the most important thing was the monthly payment and not its residual value or resale value.

    Ford also felt more reassured when taking corners or changing lanes between the two cars. Off course I am limited to how wild my corners can be in the suburbs of Toronto. Finally, Ford’s pricing for a V6 SE was a good CAN$ 45/month cheaper than the Mazda sealed the deal for me. At this point, we are thinking of trading an 06 for an 08 with the 3.5L engine because somehow the Ford though a decade ahead of our 96 I30’s 5 Speed Automatic and 3.0L engine still feels rather slower and weak.

    Aside, the weak engine I am satisfied and proud owner of a 06 Fusion. As badly as Ford messed up with their 500 or is it Taurus? Fusion is just as good.

  • avatar
    Mack

    Go Mazda go… this is from both still.
    As far as this is Mazda engine, the Mazda 6 is part duratec part mazda, I believe the lower is Duratec and the Heads up are mazda… Can’t remember. I just wished that they would have reviewed on a SEL V6, not a base entry level no option car. But hey ohwell, compare against others in its class, well it’s hard to put much on top of it. Who cares where it’s built, being a bit stereo typical aren’t we, I’ve seen what the factory looks like, it’s nice, very nice.

  • avatar
    SpacemanSpiff

    I noticed that the Fusion now has an optional Sport Appearance Package with a sport-tuned suspension. Any chance of seeing an updated review?

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