Review: 2010 Ford Fusion Sport

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
review 2010 ford fusion sport

More than three hours and two hundred miles after leaving home, a call came through on our Fusion’s SYNC system: the testing session we’d scheduled at Virginia International Raceway was canceled due to several inches of unexpected snowfall. With ambient temperatures hovering in the fifteen-degree range, and without any available track time to put Ford’s facelifted mid-sizer through its paces, how could we determine if the Fusion “Sport” lived up to the promise of it’s fashionable chrome badging?

To find out, we headed to Ohio’s Hocking Hills region, where the usual menu of blind corners, decreasing radii, and random camber changes would be augmented by glare ice, confused deer, and a heavy layer of road salt that made ABS engagement on corner entry the rule, not the exception. If the Fusion could make it here, as the song goes, it could make it anywhere.

Let’s get something straight here: the 2010 Fusion Sport is no successor to the vaunted SVT Contour. There’s no manual transmission and the suspension is tuned for ride comfort not outright grip. Nor does the three-and-a-half-liter Duratec V6 have the punch to match the Evolution/STi crowd. The old Contour was meant to be a front wheel-drive alternative to the BMW 3-Series; the Fusion Sport is aimed at the Camry SE and V6-powered Accords while simultaneously picking up the discarded mantle of its Mazdaspeed6 platform mate.

As we climb the first series of steep switchbacks, the Duratec awakens as a strong, willing partner, relentlessly propelling the Fusion’s new Super-Duty-style grille from turn to turn with a cultured, light-flywheel growl. In “SST” manual-selection mode, the six-speed automatic shifts quickly and virtually without slippage. The shift lever itself could use a slightly more positive feel, but Ford’s done it right and made downshifts a forward motion.

From a standing start, there’s a bit of torque steer, but once underway the AWD system provides wheelslip-free corner exits with no unwelcome feedback through the steering wheel. My last run through this series of roads was in my Porsche 993, and while the Fusion can’t begin to match the Porsche’s pace on the straights, it’s a far more trustworthy partner on corner entry and through the mid-corner phase.

Down the hill, the braking zones are dusted with random piles of road salt. The Fusion effectively transitions to and from ABS activation without excessive pedal feedback. Even in fifteen-degree weather, though, the brakes aren’t able to shed enough heat to resist fade. A set of high-temp pads would go a long way towards curing the situation; as it is, the fade resistance is better than my old E46 330i but nowhere close to what a Brembo-equipped Porsche would offer.

We dial the braking back a bit going into some of the fast sweepers and the big Ford reveals itself to be a little more neutral than the vast majority of FWD family sedans. A light brush of the left foot is effective on this low-traction surface and, of course, with this drivetrain it’s never too early to straighten out the wheel and let the V6 run to the rev limit—where it’s perfectly happy to stay there being no mandatory upshift built into the SST software.

After a solid day of being seemingly the only car on the road, it’s time to rejoin the freeway and head home. The Fusion isn’t a big car inside compared to the super-sized, modern Accord and Camry, but it’s roomy enough and the appointments have been upgraded to a class-competitive level for 2010. The revamped dashboard features metal-look, soft-touch accents that were bright red in our tester—this will be a matter of taste. A “Moon and Tune” package combines the well-executed SYNC system with a reasonably loud and clear Sony-branded stereo (there’s your tune) and a glass roof (there’s the moon).

More than a decade ago, Ford engineers took the pleasant-enough Mazda MX-6 and created the absolutely sublime second-generation Probe GT. This time they’ve begun with the charming but star-crossed Mazdaspeed6 and brought us a car which redeems that platform’s promise. It’s fast enough, roomy enough, pleasant enough, even economical enough (we saw 25.1 mpg over 480 freeway miles). While the Fusion Sport will never trouble a 335xi, it will absolutely demolish a “sporty” Camry or Accord when the road turns twisty. Frustrated family men banished to a lifetime sentence of unassuming sedans will find the Fusion to be a trustworthy dance partner.

There’s just one problem, really: at the as-tested price of $29,590, the Fusion Sport is far from cheap. For the same money, Honda and Toyota offer newer platforms, more room, and more respect from those oh-so-judgmental neighbors. This is the problem Ford faces today: the Camry and Accord are now the default choices. Buying a Fusion instead requires explanation. In this case, however, that explanation is just a couple of fast hairpins away.

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  • Randymrtn Randymrtn on Oct 19, 2009

    well,i just put 2000 mile on my 2010 awd sport fusion,way better than i thought,i lost my job and got very carefull with my money,bmw and audi are no longer in my price range...the ford fusion awd out performes my aging audi a6,thank you ford,i never would have dreamed that a mid size ford would make life worth living...its good, real is good,and fun things make it better..test drive one today and save$$$

  • Whamel Whamel on Apr 01, 2013

    I own a 2010 Fusion Sport w/ the 3.5L V6. Bought used with 23,000 miles for an even $20,000 (including tax title fees) but not plates. Didn't anticipate the $800 price tag for Mississippi tags. I hadn't owned a vehicle since an '06 Jetta I sold was unneeded. Living in the city of Chicago, I used public transport, so I got rid of the Jetta. I paid cash, up front in full, so I was given a decent deal. Dealer was asking 24,990 and I walked away paying 20K even with tax title fees and I am a very happy camper. However, the gas mileage leaves alot to be desired, but the engine puts out in horses what it eats in fuel. I get 21HWY, 15CTY but I do have a lead foot, and lets be real, EPA estimates are just that, estimates. Beautiful car though. I have owned a '97 Jeep Cherokee, '02 Explorer XLT, '06 Jetta, and now a 2010 Fusion Sport FWD and I'm pleased. I will say that the parts are EXPENSIVE to replace. I replaced a rocker panel that a pot hole took out and it was over $1K in parts and labor to repair. Didn't anticipate that...

  • Tassos Chinese owned Vollvo-Geely must have the best PR department of all automakers. A TINY maker with only 0.5-0.8% market share in the US, it is in the news every day.I have lost count how many different models Volvo has, and it is shocking how FEW of each miserable one it sells in the US market.Approximately, it sells as many units (TOTAL) as is the total number of loser models it offers.
  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.
  • ToolGuy When you are pulled over for speeding, whether you are given a ticket or not should depend on how attractive you are.Source: My sister 😉
  • Kcflyer What Toyota needs is a true full size body on frame suv to compete with the Expedition and Suburban and their badge engineered brethren. The new sequoia and LX are too compromised in capacity by their off road capabilities that most buyers will never use.