By on November 17, 2009

(courtesy: Motor Trend)

The Ford Fusion is a perfectly competent yet utterly bland vehicle. It’s proof that American firms can compete in the mass-market vanilla sedan segment, but not because it does anything particularly well. Its strength is nothing more than an absence of the glaring issues that kept Detroit out of the Accord/Camry sweepstakes. Which is why Motor Trend doesn’t get overly carried away with the credibility-straining praise of the vehicle itself (with the requisite glaring exceptions, to wit: “the Fusion SE goes from mild-mannered commuter to worthy canyon charger”). So instead, the praise gets spread to the lineup as a whole: “the 2010 Ford Fusion’s impressive bandwidth as a model range was one of the many factors that helped it earn the 2010 Motor Trend Car of the Year award,” we’re told. What this boils down to: you can get a hybrid powertrain in addition to four-pot and six-pot engines. In short, MT gave the Fusion COTY because it does everything a Camry does, but, crucially, it’s from Detroit. Well, Hermosillo, Mexico, actually. Still, its advertising budget still comes from Detroit, and that makes all the difference.

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57 Comments on “Ford Fusion Named Motor Trend Car of the Year...”

  • avatar

    I actually quite like the Fusion. If I could get the sport in an Atlantis Green as a coupe I’d be sold. There needs to be more cars offered in a regular Forest/British Racing green, and less Snot green ones.

    • 0 avatar

      If they go to all the trouble to engineer a 2 dr coupe (call it “personal luxury” vehicle), they might as well spend a bit more to do it right, and give it it’s own identity and call it “Thunderbird”…  (similarly, if they did this to the D3 platform, they could call it Mk XI or Mk11.)

  • avatar

    If they put an EcoBoost V6 into the Fusion Sport, then it’d be worthy. Bonus points if they offered a manual with it, but I know that’s not happening.

    As it is, the Fusion Sport is certainly worthy of consideration for anyone buying a mainstream midsize sedan.

    Another factor behind the Fusion’s growing appeal is that it has proven to be reliable for four model years at this point:

    • 0 avatar

      365 HP in a car this size would undoubtedly be extremely cool, but why do people on here feel that it is a requirement?  Try to keep in mind that enthusiasts make up a small percentage of the buying public (those people you have to impress with your product so you can make a buck), and the engineering cost to create a niche vehicle are pretty darn high.  Surely you don’t expect Ford to add an extra 100 HP and not upgrade the brakes, suspension, etc.
      No, it’s not a M3, but you can put two Fusion Sports in your driveway for the price of one M3 and most folks will find the 0 to 60 performance to be more than acceptable.

  • avatar

    Yes it may be a tad bland looking compared to the likes of the Mustang or the F150, but it actually looks quite striking compared to the ‘blob of lard’ proportions of the Camry. The fact that Ford’s products are now looked upon as reliable is also not a bad thing.
    However I also agree with Mr Karesh – If Ford want to keep in touch with the some of the petrol heads out there then they should offer the manual transmission in all the engine sizes, not just the base 2.5. I wouldn’t expect to see the Ecoboost engine in there any time soon as it’ll just take sales away from the Taurus.

    • 0 avatar

      I would probably expect there to be a 4 cyl. eco-boost awd (perhaps  “SVT”) version soon and eventually to have the 4 eco’s replace the 6’s all together. 

      I doubt there is alot of cross-shopping b/t the taurus and fusion but the 6 cyl. ecoboost would be kindof overkill for the fusion. 

    • 0 avatar

      If people don’t need a car as huge as the Taurus, why force them into a Taurus?

      The Fusion innately has better handling than the Taurus. Get the EcoBoost V6 engine into it, and people would get excited. They’re already shown that fuel economy would be comparable to the V6 already offered in the car.

  • avatar

    I agree…get the ecoboost 4 inthere and you have something.
    But the Ecoboost will get Engine Of The Year from Wards.
    Look, I am a Ford guy.
    But the COTY should be more than just the Best of The Average car.
    It should be something that has pushed the rules of design and engineering and somehow made it all work.
    If you ask me, the Mazda6 is a better car.
    All would be world beaters with the ecobbost engine’s attributes.

  • avatar


    Maybe not really soon for the Ecoboost in the Fusion, but Ford is already on record that it will be in the smaller cars and soon.
    We might get some surprises at the LA Auto Show next month.
    This should prove an exciting show.
    I will be there!!!!

    If any other TTAC people will be there, let me know.

  • avatar

    “In short, MT gave the Fusion COTY because it does everything a Camry does, but crucially, it’s from Detroit.”

    So, playing devil’s advocate here, if the Fusion does EVERYTHING a Camry does, and this sentence implies that you think Camry should have won or at least is a better car than the Fusion, then what gives the Camry an upper hand over the Fusion, in your opinion?  If you have two equally matched cars and then you have the looks of the Fusion and Camry to make the tie breaker I know there would be few here who would chose the Camry…that hideous bulbous sheetmetal will revolt anyone.

    • 0 avatar

      If the two cars are evenly matched, of course the Camry would be chosen, because it’s the default choice. It’s been there, done that, before the Fusion came.
      It’s like, when you have two equally capable employees and you have to lay one of them off, which one do you pick? Almost always the less senior person.

  • avatar

    Not exactly a tough field…the other two major contenders seemed to be the Prius and the VW Golf. Ah well, I don’t read MT anyway.

  • avatar

    It’s not a bad looking car. I like it better than the current Asian appliances in that class, and the Hybrid has some impressive EPA numbers. I don’t know if it actually achieves those numbers however.
    Now if only Ford would offer a Fusion wagon with 3 pedals and one of their TDCi engines… I’d seriously consider one of those.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, 3-pedal wagon version would make this a proper line-up. TDCi engine would be icing on the cake. 

      I don’t understand the appeal of a sedan that’s not RWD, big and fast. 

  • avatar
    Oregon Sage

    Does the new Taurus not qualify for consideration.  I just saw a silver one roaming the streets and at least externally it appears a bit distinctive and interesting … although handsome might be stretching it a bit.
    The Fusion on the other hand is virtually impossible to even notice due to it’s Camryesqe styling, although I once drove a 1st gen unit, 4 cyl, manual trans, and it was like the children of Lake Wobegon … above average.

    • 0 avatar

      I have the sneaking suspicion that the ad budget for the new Fusion is bigger than the budget for the new Taurus, and this played a role in the magazine’s decision. Motor Trend wants its award touted as often as possible to the general public.

      The new Fusion is much better looking than either the Camry or the Accord. We have a 2003 Accord EX, and, while I’m happy with the reliability, we are seriously considering a Fusion to replace it, as I have mixed feelings about the new Accord.

  • avatar

    You could say that the Fusion deserves the award for being the first American-badged mainstream car to prove as reliable (in the short term) as the Japanese competition.  I don’t think there’s been an American car in a long time that you could comfortably recommend to your (metaphorical) mother as an alternative to the Camry/Accord.  That’s a hugely important thing.
    Of course, if you used that yardstick, you’d be talking about the previous Fusion, and MotorTrend et al are all about the New and Shiny.

  • avatar

    I found the Fusion to be well behind the rest of the class in ride, NVH, and interior material quality. A simlarly equipped Altima was sportier and had a solid ride that left the Fusion seeming more like a Sentra competitor.  Additionally the steering is extremely overboosted to the point of making the car difficult to drive.  I would not recommend it to anyone.

  • avatar

    At least MT is consistent. Didn’t the Camry win 2 years ago on the basis of an overwhelming, undeniable absence of stupidity?

  • avatar

    Now we know who bought the most advertising with Motor Trend this year.

  • avatar

    While MT are advertising whores, they usually give the COTY to whichever bland mid-size family car is newest to market. Partially because manufacturers with new product to market have the biggest marketing budget. So yes, they are advertising revenue driven but it would be wrong to assume that they favor Detroit – they like everybody’s money, domestic or import.

  • avatar

    Most of the knocks against the Fusion in this article fall on the subjective side of things.  Looking at it from the other (still subjective) side, you have a car that does do a lot of things well and really doesn’t have the weaknesses the other cars have.  It’s a mid-size family car, so calling it bland is missing the point.  As a member of a family, I want a car that is: safe (check), reliable (based on the previous model, likely a check), economical (check), affordable (check), attractive (personally, I say check), and reasonably fun to drive (bigger check than most of the competition). 

    I’m not saying it’s not an appliance, because it is.  But it is a good appliance and better at being that appliance than the other cars are at their roles.  It’s a good choice, though only the Insight and Prius from the Big 2 from Japan were eligible.  But besting the Camaro, Golf, Legacy, Forte, Genesis Coupe, LaCrosse, and Prius, among others…  not too shabby. 

    So, congratulations Ford. 

    Oh, and I second the motion for a Fusion wagon…

  • avatar

    I’m also not very surprised that the Fusion won COTY. Ford has done a good job in keeping what is essentially a near 10 year old platform (previous gen Mazda6) and with the new Fusion, they’ve just enhanced the product. I sat in one at an auto show in Miami a few weeks ago and was quite impressed with the quality and level of fit-and-finish with the materials. A buddy of mine recently bought a 2.5 version and I was even more impressed with how it drove, plus the 2.5 I4 proved to be a match to the 3.0 V6 in my Mazda6.
    As much as I don’t give MT credit for the OTY awards (the SUVOTY still needs serious sorting out…the Outback?….really!?) I think they did right this time and it was well deserved.

  • avatar

    My current company car is a 2007 Fusion SE. Ya know, it isn’t a bad car. Comfortable, quiet, and plenty of room. Good factory audio system and the trip computer is easy to use on the fly.
    Ford seems to have gotten a lot of little things wrong, the trunk release being less than a finger-width away from the interior light controls being one example…
    Still, good car and it doesn’t break down too often. 175,000 miles and only on its second transmission. Unheard of for a FWD Ford product. While I wouldn’t take it over an Altima it impresses me more than the ‘Bu or the Accord being offered now.

  • avatar

    Motor Trend has given this award to such cars as the, Dodge Aspen, Omni, Alliance, and the 1990 Caprice. Maybe these weren’t bad cars in their day, but today they look rather lackluster.

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t speakl for the others authoritatively, but the Aspen was shit.  Total, utter crap from the day it rolled off the assembly line, often with rust spots, ignition problems and a suspension that was out of sorts before the second digit on the odo rolled.

    • 0 avatar

      You have to consider other cars at the time though, you can’t say those look dated because they Are dated. The Caprice for example looks like an elderly man’s car now but it fit in during the early 90’s and has proven to be reliable, especially the LT1 models.

  • avatar

    I simply don’t know what the domestics need to do to get genuine and enthusiastic praise from TTAC. The New Fusion is a damn good car and rates very well, and not just by the shill publications that do the bidding of the Detroit.
    For the record, I do not work for the auto industry. I own a GM and my wife drives a Honda. I also think most of what is on TTAC is spot-on regarding its criticism of the Chrysler and GM. But perhaps its ok to root for the home team when they actually kick some a** and make a fine car.

  • avatar

    The Fusion is bland?  No worse than the offerings in the mid-size sector from other manufacturers including Toyota and Honda.

  • avatar

    You can´t take this award seriously :-)
    This is patriotism, not objective journalism.
    Motortrend seems to be the most patriotic in the usa.
    It´s not only the us media.
    For the same reason, don´t believe Top Gear and other british magasines when it comes to british cars.
    The swedish magasines are also biased.
    Volvo (and to a lesser extent Saab) often wins comparison tests.
    My advice is;
    Ignore the Spanish media if you´re looking to buy a Spanish car, the German media if you´re going for a german car, und zu weiter………

    • 0 avatar

      “don´t believe Top Gear… when it comes to british cars.”
      Did you ever hear them rip into Rover products when they were still being built? Clarkson et al, are of course biased, but they still pick faults with pretty much every car they review.

  • avatar

    HooRah. More incentive for Steeda to have more aftermarket upgrades.

  • avatar

    Sorry, but the Fusion is not built in Saltillo.  The Fusion is built in Hermosillo, Mexico.

  • avatar

    TheCaster: How right you are. Text amended.

  • avatar

    “In short, MT gave the Fusion COTY because it does everything a Camry does, but crucially, it’s from Detroit.”
    I disagree.  The Fusion is a better car than the Camry or Accord, yet most are still in disbelief.  Let’s count the reasons.
    1. Fusion is not SUPERSIZED like the Camry and Accord
    2. Fusion has better EPA fuel economy than Camry and Accord
    3. Fusion handling/performance is equivalent to better than Camry and Accord
    4. Fusion has a hybrid option that beats Camry in MPG’s
    5. Fusion has a growing /improving history of reliability while my newer Toyota’s/ Honda’s haven’t been as good as the ones they replaced.
    Shall I continue?  As a current Accord owner my next commuter will almost without doubt be the Fusion since both the Camry and Accord have lost their way (see above). As my spouse recently remarked, “most people don’t go from Honda to Ford.”  I have a good feeling I’m not the only one.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Having extensively test driven both the Camry and the Fusion I must say that the Fusion is by far the better all around car. Toyota has been focused on cost reductions at a time when Ford has been working hard to improve the product. It shows.

  • avatar

    I wonder if Japanese car magazines, that I seldom read mention of here or see examples thereof, have tentacles writing in and out of the exhaust pipe or sumpthin’ that precludes their mention or a copy of being shown?
    I am curious yellow.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    But I agree with you – the 6 is the better car.

    I have to disagree on looks, on price, and on the number drivetrain options.

    most people don’t go from Honda to Ford

    Yeah, people look at us funny for recently going from a Toyota to a Ford. 

  • avatar
    John Horner

    BTW, the Camry wasn’t in the running this year. Motor Trend’s COTY award requires that the contenders be new/redesigned. Fusion got a redesign for the 2010 model year while very few of its direct competitors did.
    Put another way, which 2010 new/redesigned car do y’all think better deserved the infamous MT COTY?

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    The last winners have been
    2010 Ford Fusion
    2009 Nissan GT-R
    2008 Cadillac CTS
    2007 Toyota Camry
    2006 Honda Civic
    2005 Chrysler 300
    Does this really correlate with advertising budget in MT?   I’d like to see more facts than insinuations from TTAC.

    • 0 avatar

      Short of evidence, it’s just losers whining.  It’s the same with C/D.  Everyone knows that BMW must be a big advertiser (or paying them on the sly), since the Bavarians are always thought of highly by the mag.  At the same time, if you asked those making these ignorant and slanderous insinuations, and asked them if they could afford, say…oh, I don’t know, an M3 or just about any other sedan, we all know what most would choose if they were honest with themselves.   Obviously MT has a questionable history with COTY, but I really doubt Ford is into payola, or the mag is opportunistic in that way.

      • 0 avatar

        At the same time, if you asked those making these ignorant and slanderous insinuations, and asked them if they could afford, say…oh, I don’t know, an M3 or just about any other sedan, we all know what most would choose if they were honest with themselves.
        An AMG Mercedes or an XFR?  Maybe C300  or CTS on the lower end of things?  Not everyone dreams of one day owning a propeller car (or a near carbon copy of one).

  • avatar

    Bleh…this half-hearted re-skin won?  Wow…..
    I wonder how much Ford had to shell out for this “win”?  Probably more than Toyota did for the Tundra win.

  • avatar

    The Fusion winning COTY makes perfect sense to me.  It combines the reliability, fuel efficiency, and capability that people expect from a midsize sedan, and adds a healthy shake of fun to drive to the mix, plus class leading technology with Sync, Blind Spot Monitoring, and the best factory navigation system available at any price.   In these days where people are downsizing to more practical cars, a solid midrange sedan like the Fusion that does everything better than average and is built to last for years to come holds a lot of appeal.
    Regarding the comparison to the Mazda6, I personally prefer the styling, both inside and out on the 6, but since the 6 and the Fusion share so much DNA (same platform, same engines for the most part (the optional 3.7 liter in the Mazda is basically the same as the 3.5 in the Fusion Sport with a tiny bit of extra displacement and a shake of extra ponies), and even fairly similar suspension tuning) if I were buying, the edge would go to the Fusion simply because of Sync.  Sync is one of those neat little features where you don’t realize what you’ve been missing till you have it, especially now that it comes with turn by turn directions.

  • avatar

    Buy the Camry – made in the USA!

  • avatar

    *IF* the Fusion was the better car…why does it’s sales STILL lag WAy behind the class leaders?  Why is it the Fusion can hardly crack 17K units a month while the Camry posts over 30K units a month?
    The Fusion is ugly on the outside, bland on the inside, does nothing special, and really offers no reason to buy it over the competition…and the sales numbers prove it…
    The rest of Ford’s line up is Toyota-bland as well.  The new Taurus????  It’s the new Crown Vic……with the blandness of a V6 and FWD.
    Ford is still a very much a truck company that happens to make cars…and the trucks aren’t all that special either…

    • 0 avatar

      FYI, the only vehicles that are eligible are new models.  So, the Camry isn’t eligible this year for the award.  But, higher sales do not a better car make.  It does make a more popular car.  If so, the F150 is the best vehicle available in the US today?  Would you agree to that?
      Also, saying the Fusion is ugly on the outside and bland on the inside… maybe one should take a closer look at the Camry.  It is ugly to many people who complain about Japanese styling and the interior is what, bland.  Welcome to the world of family sedans.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    *IF* the Fusion was the better car…why does it’s sales STILL lag WAy behind the class leaders?  Why is it the Fusion can hardly crack 17K units a month while the Camry posts over 30K units a month?
    The Fusion is ugly on the outside, bland on the inside, does nothing special, and really offers no reason to buy it over the competition…and the sales numbers prove it…

    So you’re telling us whatever car sells the best IS the best?  Come on, you know better.  Toyota and Honda sales trailed way behind the Detroit 3 for years, even though the Asian firms’ vehicles were arguably better.
    The Fusion doesn’t sell as much some of its competition because it takes forever for the general auto-buying public to learn something – and forever to unlearn it.  That’s why American cars were still market leaders through the 1980’s even though most were crap.  It’ll take quite some time before many people give an American car a try again, regardless of how good they might be.
    If anyone doesn’t like the Fusion, that’s fine.  If it’s not your cup of tea, great.  But that’s a conclusion based on personal taste more than anything else.  If I were in the market for a mainstream sedan right now, I’d pick a Fusion over a current Camry or Accord anytime.  Again, personal taste.
    But it is true that Ford’s U.S. lineup is rather bland overall.  That’s what those Ford designs from Europe are supposed to cure.  But these things take time.

  • avatar

    Steve you beat me to it. Sales mean less when a product is improving. The numbers eventually catch-up to reality.

  • avatar

    From Edward’s post: So instead, the praise gets spread to the lineup as a whole: “the 2010 Ford Fusion’s impressive bandwidth as a model range was one of the many factors that helped it earn the 2010 Motor Trend Car of the Year award,” we’re told.

    The COTY award in 2006 was given to the entire Civic lineup. All four of them. So this isn’t new behavior for MT.

    “Honda deserves a standing ovation for not playing it safe again,” said Angus MacKenzie, editor-in-chief of Motor Trend. “With the sizzling Si, a sleek coupe, an elegant sedan, and a Hybrid that averages 50 miles per gallon, each model shines through with what Motor Trend looks for when crowning Car of the Year….”

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. Gray

      I was just going to mention how a few years ago, the Civic also won the COTY award because there are so many versions of it. I remember the cover of the magazine. It said 8000rpm! 56mpg! under $20,000! as if were talking about all the same car.

      So I guess if the Chevrolet Aveo, Cobalt SS, Malibu Hybrid, and Corvette Z06 were all called “Malibu”, then it would win the Car of the Year Award.

      I know that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point.

  • avatar

    A mild makeover of a car which was at the back of the mid size sedan pack and it gets car of the year? Why? Is it because of all those pretty green leaves floating around it in the ads that blare out at us constantly? Is this “award” ad revenue based, and/or slanted in Detroit’s favour?
    In 15 out of the past 20 years, the MT car of the year its either been a GM, Ford or Chrysler product….hmm.  I would LOVE to see TTAC do a critical article about Motor Trend’s car of the year awards. There have been some awful choices and some mediocre ones compared to the competition in their respective years. How about the Chrysler PT Cruiser, best of all cars in 2001?

  • avatar

    Autoweekm exposed Motor Trend’s pay for play COTY Award in the late 80s, so it’s not something anyone just invented or the whining of a sore loser. MT has had no credibility for me for years.

    And BTW: the 1970 Torino got the car of the year for similar reasons as this Fusion did.

    Past COTY winners: Vega, Omni/ Horizon, Citation, Volaspen, Renault/AMC Alliance, Mustang II and lest we forget “Bumper Of The Year” in 1968 for the GTO’s Endura rubber coating on it’s bumper. Motor Trend has been a bad joke for many years.

    [Wasn’t the Chevy Monza COTY in 75 as well?]

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Much sound and fury signifying nothing…..

  • avatar
    Marquis Dee

    I hear tell that the “Focus Group” is outselling the “Fusion Family” (at least in CFC program)?  Maybe someone can confirm…I was born and raised in Ford Country, and hope the company can return to prosperity.  Good friends like their “Ford Foci” and one just bought a Flex….

    That said, tried exhaustively to get my MIL to go for a Ford; she’s 78 and has never owned a non-US make.  She went for the Hyundai Sonata, and she LOVES it…..she drove it to Chicago twice in 2 months!  Never thought I’d see the day, but I know the whole BK thing – she expected Ford to be next – played into it.  On the other hand, she test-drove both makes until the Hyundai salesmen cried “uncle”, and considers herself to have made a good decision.

    Regarding what is actually “made” in the USA: it’s a global supply chain folks, for better or worse; note how recent labor unrest in India impacted US production numbers.  Still have the Kentucky-built 2000 Camry headed towards 100K, original tranny, just regular maintenance and new tires (and timing belt).  And NO RUST here in Salt Country!

    Tried to like Fords in 2000, but just couldn’t do it.  (Like my MIL, I guess!)  I’d consider a Ford very seriously now, not because of the COTY (meaningless, as many have observed) but because I track the experience that friends and relatives have with their cars; unscientific, but Grandpa worked for Packard – their motto was “Ask the Man Who Owns One”.  However, since I expect to get past 200K on the Camry (barring unforeseen disasters), looks like I can give Ford 5 to 10 more years to get even better.  Even if they are assembled in Mexico….better that than a Chinese GM product….or maybe I’ll have a late-life crisis and buy that F-150 I’ve always wanted!

    “If an institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist” – U.S. Senator Bernard Sanders, I-Vermont, 11/9/2009

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