By on September 20, 2012

I hate to review mass market midsize sedans. Especially with the latest round—every key player save the Sonata has been redesigned in the past 18 months—all are good cars. But they’re also all boring. Given the large number of conflicting criteria that must be met for a shot at segment leadership and the rarity of solutions that dramatically push the envelope, all serious players have devolved into highly competent appliances. Then we have the 2013 Ford Fusion.

Tradeoff #1: Style vs. Broad Appeal

Midsize car buyers tend to be conservative (in their automotive tastes, not necessarily their politics). To avoid upsetting them, the latest Accord and Camry look much like the cars they replaced. (I’m still learning how to infallibly distinguish the new Honda.) Chevrolet decided that the way to beat them was to dress like them. The new Volkswagen Passat could have been designed two decades ago. The new Nissan Altima looks new—if you pay really close attention. Only the Hyundai Sonata has taken big aesthetic risks. This gamble has won more sales than it has lost, but it has lost more than a few.

The new Ford Fusion resembles none of the above. Does the grille owe a bit much to Aston? Will TPTB feel the need to change things up yet again long before we might come to see this front end and think Ford first? Perhaps. There’s also more than a little A7 in the rear three-quarter view.

But what can’t be denied is that the ends of the car manage to be at once stylish, very different from the segment norm, and appealing to a broad range of potential buyers. Nothing crazy has been done with the lamps, or with chrome detailing. The designers also engaged in a minimum of cheating, with no black triangle in the C-pillar and just an itty-bitty one in the A-pillar. My largest personal complaint about the exterior is that, when combined with multi-spoke wheels, the midsection appears distended and stiff.

Five-spoke rims fix this.

Ford has taken far fewer risks inside the car. The new Fusion’s interior is considerably more conservative than its exterior and than the interiors of other recently designed Fords.

Tradeoff #2: Style vs. Space

Many midsize sedan buyers demand roomy cabins and capacious trunks. Highly prioritize this imperative, and you end up with all the curves of a Camry. Well, the new Fusion is chock full of curves, yet it also matches competitors inch for inch and cubic foot for cubic foot. Exterior dimensions (191.7×72.9×58.1 inches) are virtually identical to the Passat’s, while interior dimensions and trunk space meet or beat the limo-like VW’s (with an extra inch of both combined legroom and front shoulder room). Some of this might be due to creative measuring—in person, the Passat seems to have more legroom.

But, due to a large, high-mounted, and very well shaped rear seat, the Fusion is the midsizer I’d personally prefer to be chauffeured in. The Ford’s front seats are also very comfortable and supportive, especially those in the top-level Titanium. But the development team might have gone a bit far with their side bolsters. They’re about perfect for me, but those with waistlines well beyond 33 inches mind find them overly tight.

Tradeoff #3: Style vs. Forward Visibility

Most midsize sedans have very good forward visibility because their designers weren’t allowed to draw anything swoopy. Check out a recent Hyundai front-drive sedan to find out what happens to the pillar rake and instrument panel depth when the creative types are unleashed. Or check out the new Ford Escape. With the Fusion, while the overall exterior appearance is very sleek the angle of the A-pillars is relatively conservative. Consequently, the view forward is more Passat than Sonata.

Tradeoff #4: HMI Style vs. Functionality vs. Usability

When I first saw MyFord Touch, with its trio of vivid highly configurable displays, I was wowed. So pretty, and capable of handling so many functions via touch or voice, clearly this was the future. Everyone else’s controls suddenly seemed archaic. The problem was, with so many little virtual buttons, MFT was too hard to actually use while driving, at least via touch.

Ford has reacted to widespread criticism, some of which has gone so far as to recommend against buying any car with the system, by repeatedly tweaking the software. This has helped, but quite a few screens continue to contain an overly large number of overly small buttons. The new Fusion incorporates a larger improvement: the touch-sensitive display is located closer to the driver, and is mounted flush with the center stack rather than recessed. This makes it much easier and more comfortable to operate.

You can always get the SE without MFT (it’s standard on the Titanium). But then the center stack looks like this:

Tradeoff #5: Build Quality vs. Affordability

Honda, Toyota, and Volkswagen have all obviously cut corners in pursuit of lower costs. The materials inside the new Fusion are much nicer than in any of them. The impact of CEO Alan Mulally’s “One Ford” imperative, due to which this car must be competitive in Europe as well as North America, is evident. Aside from a trio of LCD panels, there’s nothing flashy or overtly luxurious—there will be the Lincoln MKZ for this. But the parts seem solid, look precisely assembled, and feel soft to the touch in all the places that count. Within the segment, only the new Malibu might do better.

Ford has rarely tried to sell Euro-spec cars in the U.S. in the past because European build quality tends to require European prices. Even the U.S.-spec Passat is the most expensive car in the segment. I fully expected Ford to have to price the Fusion similarly.

But they haven’t. A Fusion SE 1.6T manual with Appearance Package, arguably the most enjoyable of the bunch, lists for $25,745. For more power, luxury, and gadgetry, step up to the Titanium. With sunroof, it’s $31,890. A Passat V6 SEL Premium is nearly $2,500 more. Adjust for the Ford’s additional features using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool, and the difference widens to nearly $4,000. More interested in peak efficiency? The Fusion SE Hybrid, equipped similarly to the Camry Hybrid XLE, undercuts the Toyota by a couple hundred dollars with a base price of $27,995.

How did Ford manage this? Beats me. They will be assembling the new Fusion with minimal variation in at least five plants worldwide (Michigan, Mexico, Belgium, Russia, China). Perhaps they’ll be “making it up in volume.”

Tradoff #6: Build Quality vs. Curb Weight

Premium materials and solid body structures don’t only tend to add cost. They also tend to add weight. Ford’s Fiesta, Focus, and Escape are each among the heaviest cars in their respective segments. With the most popular powertrain (1.6T auto) checking in at 3,421 pounds, he Fusion similarly outweighs the Accord, Camry, Passat, and Sonata by about 200 and the Altima by about 300. No envelope pushed here.

Tradeoff #7: Performance vs. Fuel Economy

With its higher curb weight, the 2013 Fusion should have a hard time matching the performance and fuel economy of its competitors, much less managing both. Yet the redesigned Hybrid achieves 47 miles-per-gallon in both EPA tests, city and highway. These numbers top the Camry Hybrid’s by four and eight MPG, respectively, and aren’t far behind those of the smaller, lighter, much less powerful Prius (51/48). To achieve these numbers, Ford reduced the size of the gas engine from 2.5 to 2.0 liters then tuned the system to operate the smaller engine at lower rpm and a higher load. To compensate for the resulting engine thrum, they added active noise reduction (which plays the opposite sound through the stereo speakers, canceling it out). Ford also claims to know more about electric motors and batteries than other competitors, and to have applied this knowledge very effectively. The switch from a NiMH to a Li-ion battery pack capable of higher output and deeper cycling gets some specific credit. Ford claims that one competitor is overly attached to NiMH.

But if the new Fusion Hybrid performed poorly, only those fanatically focused on MPG would want it. Banish the thought. The Camry Hybrid is capable of quicker acceleration, given more power (200 vs. 188 horsepower combined) and fewer pounds (3,417 vs. 3,615), but the Fusion Hybrid is much more satisfying to drive quickly, with a smooth, torquey power flow that feels more like that of a conventional engine and a much more capable chassis. This isn’t entirely a good thing. While the Toyota’s character encourages light-footed driving, the Ford’s does not. Drive it casually, and it feels good. Drive it hard, and it feels better–but fuel economy will suffer.

There’s a fix for this as well: the best driver feedback yet seen in a hybrid. The instruments are configurable in more ways than I cared to count. You can view various combinations of tachometer, engine output, electric motor output, battery charge level, instantaneous fuel economy, average fuel economy, and driving style scores (with the last much like those in the Prius c). In the past I’ve asked why no hybrid provides an indication of the percentage of energy recouped through regenerative braking, as an indicator of how hard you can brake without compromising fuel economy. After all, the key efficiency benefit of a hybrid follows from this regenerative ability (or lack thereof). Well, the new Fusion Hybrid gives you a percentage of energy recouped each time you brake to a stop.

This said, they’ve also left something out: there’s no instantaneous evaluation of driving style aside from the indicators of engine and motor output, with a mark noting the maximum possible in EV mode. The Ford engineer claimed that they decided that overly involving instantaneous feedback would prove an unsafe distraction. I’m not quite buying this. If the display is located high enough, you can simultaneously keep an eye on both it and the road. But the Fusion’s displays are conventionally located.

My driving route was insufficiently urban to adequately test the Fusion Hybrid’s fuel economy. With a cruising speed of 48 and few complete stops, but also a few foot-to-the-floor events, the trip computer reported high 40s.

Sound good? Well, on the same route (but with even fewer stops and a lighter foot on the go pedal) the trip computer in a Fusion SE with the 178-horsepower 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission reported 46.5 MPG. Granted, these were ideal conditions for maximum fuel economy. In typical suburban driving I suspect this powertrain will roughly split the EPA ratings of 25 city, 37 highway. Performance with this powertrain is about what you’d expect from a 3,333-pound car with 178 horsepower: beyond adequate, but not too far beyond. Ford hasn’t worked any miracles here. Shift feel could be much worse, but it could also be much better. One of the few improvements I’d very much like to see is a shifter that feels more like the one in the Mazda3 SKYACTIV. But I suspect that the Mazda’s shifter employs a rod, while the Ford’s (if feel is any indication) very likely pushes and pulls a cable.

The Fusion’s top engine, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, seems the most curious choice. Chevrolet and Hyundai also offer 2.0T’s instead of V6s, but they produce more peak horsepower, 259 and 274 vs. the Ford’s 240. And this 240 only happens with premium unleaded. Put in regular, and it drops to 231. The V6s in the Accord, Altima, Camry, and Passat all produce between 268 and 280 horsepower. Less power to move more weight doesn’t seem a recipe for competitive performance.

The reality isn’t as bad as these numbers suggest. There’s no magic involved, just torque. The Ford 2.0T (standard in the Titanium, a $1,000 bump over the 1.6T in the SE) peaks at 270 pound-feet, higher than any of the others (though just barely higher than the Hyundai). So through the midrange the Ford engine does at least as well as the others. So while the Ford won’t be as quick in full throttle acceleration, in typical daily driving it’ll perform about as well. At part throttle through the midrange there are no surges or lulls to betray the boosted nature of the engine, which might be a benefit of the relatively low peak output. (BMW’s 2.0T engine has a similar character and specs, Hyundai’s is more obviously boosted.) Sound quality is good for a four, adding to the experience of driving the car hard, but is no match for a six.

Ford and others have substituted turbocharged fours for normally-aspirated sixes to push the performance-economy envelope. But have they? The Fusion 2.0T manages EPA ratings of 22 city, 33 highway. These numbers nearly match the Sonata 2.0T’s 22/34. The Ford engine isn’t as powerful (at least not based on the official specs), but it has to move more mass, so they’ve done pretty well to manage competitive numbers. But the Honda Accord V6 does just about as well (21/34). Boost isn’t the only solution. Cylinder deactivation also does the trick.

With the 1.6T engine and automatic transmission, automatic start/stop is a $295 option. Ford claims it boosts fuel economy by ten percent in true city driving, and by 3.5% in EPA testing. They also claim that it operates much more smoothly than BMW’s system. I tried to substantiate this, but with only five minutes available couldn’t get the system to kick in.

Tradeoff #8: Performance vs. Driveability

Volkswagen revolutionized transmissions with its highly efficient, quick-shifting dual-clutch automated manual (DSG). Ford employed a lower-cost dual-clutch transmission, with dry instead of wet clutches, in its Fiesta and Focus. Many owners complained about the transmission’s driveability. (In Ford’s defense, all VW owners aren’t fond of the DSG’s occasionally brusk character.) This might explain why the automatics in the Fusion are purely conventional six-speed units. Now, there are some very good six-speed automatic transmissions. Mazda’s new SKYACTIV automatic has been lauded for both its performance and fuel efficiency. The Ford transmission isn’t nearly as good. In aggressive driving, shifts aren’t especially smooth or especially quick. A few times when I wanted the 2.0T to scoot after braking nearly to a stop the transmission hesitated, and for a moment that seemed much longer than a moment nothing happened. It’s far from awful, but it’s not nearly as good as the rest of the car. If there were one thing I could change about the new Fusion, it would be this automatic transmission, followed by the manual shifter. Perhaps they can get their dual-clutch transmission to perform and behave at least as well as VW’s DSG?

Tradeoff #9: Handling vs. Driveability

I like quick, direct, communicative steering because it makes a car fun. Commuters don’t like quick, direct, communicative steering because they just want to relax as they cruise (or crawl) to and from work. The latter’s voices have been given far more weight by developers of midsize sedans.

But Ford decided the Fusion would distinguish itself from the pack here. The new car’s steering isn’t notably quick, perhaps because you don’t want to entirely alienate commuters. And it won’t chat up a storm. But, compared to competitors’ systems (and those in other Fords), the new Fusion’s steering feels more direct, significantly less numb, and surprisingly “natural” despite being electrically-assisted. Drive the car casually, and the steering’s okay with that. It’s not heavy or hyper, and it’ll let you relax. But push the Fusion hard through some curves and the steering weights up very nicely, inspiring confidence. It even communicates a bit of what’s going on at the front tires’ contact patches. When called upon, it provides the connection so often missing in other midsize cars.

Handling varies by engine. The 1.6T manual feels almost agile. The 2.0T adds nearly 200 pounds to the front end, and you feel them in the car’s somewhat heavier, more deliberate steering. The Hybrid adds another 90 pounds, but some of this is over the rear wheels. It feels less maneuverable than the 2.0T, much less the 1.6T, but remains far more a driver’s car than the Camry Hybrid.

Tradeoff #10: Handling vs. Ride Quality

Traditionally, auto makers improved a car’s handling by firming up its springs and dampers and fitting thicker stabilizer bars. Ride quality tended to suffer greatly. Then some German manufacturers, most notably BMW, figured out that with proper tuning the ride penalty didn’t have to be so great. Over uneven pavement, body control could actually benefit from proper damping. Wallow and float weren’t the necessary price of a good ride.

Among mass market manufacturers, Ford and Mazda have most successfully adopted a similar approach, with the former’s recent small cars feeling especially German. Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Ford of Europe led the development of the Fiesta and Focus. But Ford’s North American Operations led the development of the new Fusion. Nevertheless, it extends the same top shelf ride-handling balance into the midsize segment. The new Fusion might be large and somewhat heavy, but its body motions are more tightly controlled than those in competitors. There’s no float, no imprecision, and a decidedly upscale feel. Ford’s route didn’t offer much in the way of challenging roads. But the few times I was able to take curves with some speed (generally off the planned route) the cars felt fantastic. I was left wanting more.

This said, the Fusion’s suspension (essentially the same with all engines and trims) is firm and doesn’t filter everything out. Those seeking a cushy ride will be happier in the Chevrolet Malibu, which occupies the other end of the continuum. But they’re pay the price when the road does curve.

Parts vs. Whole

Going area by area, Ford’s achievement with the new Fusion has at times seemed substantial, other times not so much. Styling, build quality, seating, features, and handling are clear strengths, while performance and fuel economy are competitive. But beyond the parts there’s a coherence to the car, in how it looks, how it sounds, how it feels, and how it drives, that you won’t find in many others, especially not at a remotely similar price. There’s a tradeoff here as well. Some of it is again cost: the company must be willing to spend the money to make everything right. (The ideal transmission, if technically feasible, likely wasn’t budget compliant.) But most of the cost isn’t financial. Instead, it involves the willingness and ability of the team (as limited by the larger organization) to go through the car bit by bit and make sure everything fits. This hasn’t happened often in Detroit’s history. It appears to have happened this time, and the result is the best car in the hyper-competitive midsize sedan segment.

Only one thing keeps me from wholeheartedly recommending the 2013 Fusion: its unknown reliability. Some of Ford’s other recent redesigns have been glitchy during their first model year. On the other hand, “poor” reliability these days often means one fairly minor problem per year instead of one every two or three years. Even with an “unreliable” new model, only about one car in ten will require three or more trips to the shop in the first year. If this still seems a bit risky, and you’d like some actual numbers, TrueDelta could have some as soon as next May.

Wait, there’s a second thing. The interior is offered only in beige and charcoal. Unless you spend extra for the Titanium, then it’s just as Henry intended: any color you want, as long as it’s charcoal. Ford, this is an exciting car, how about some more exciting interior colors?

Ford provided insured, fueled cars with a light lunch.

Michael Karesh operates, a provider of car reliability and pricing information.

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180 Comments on “Review: 2013 Ford Fusion...”

  • avatar

    Sounds like Derek might have been right when he called this thing a game changer…

    • 0 avatar

      It’s probably “slightly nicer that most of what’s out there, but it really depends on what you value”.

      I don’t think anyone has a game-changer in this segment. Like half-ton trucks, by their very nature it’s a conservative segment.

      • 0 avatar

        I am standing by those comments. I’ve already had a few people with little to no interest in cars ask me about “the new Ford that looks like an Aston”. With today’s cars so qualitatively homogenous, design is the key differentiation. If I’m wrong, you guys can all laugh at me.

      • 0 avatar

        @psar, I think given the general lack of adventurous spirit in the conservative, bread-and-butter, for-gods-sake-don’t-f*ck-up segment, anything that is even slightly distinguishable from the Camcordimassat _is_ a game changer. I think the Fusion is changing the game about as much as one can expect in this category.

        I read an anecdote on another (inferior to ttac) automotive site that the number one concern of buyers in this segment is whether a child-seat fits in the center of the back-seat. Many parents go so far as to actually bring a car-seat in for an audition when they test “drive” the car. When you are hoping to sell to millions of these customers, you have to go easy on the tumblehome and the slope of the rear roofline.

        That is why I was expecting/hoping Acura to take up the challenge and build us an Acura ‘Rapide’, since they are less constrained by such domestic preoccupations and could do very well with a contender for the CLS/GranCoupe market – but I guess they decided to keep tinkering with the Acura Beak instead.

      • 0 avatar

        “If I’m wrong, you guys can all laugh at me.”

        I don’t think you’re wrong, I just don’t think design is anywhere near the top of the list in terms of buyer priority. I also don’t think that what this car brings to the table is going to sway buyers in this segment, nor that it’s really that much better, holistically speaking.

        It isn’t Ford’s game to win in the short term, it’s Toyota’s to lose over the long haul. When they have their Ovoid Taurus moment, that is.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m really not trying to be a prick, even though some may claim otherwise (how can I disprove subjective intent?), but this car, from the exterior to the the interior, from Karesh’s comments on its handling to its comfort to its driving dynamics, all adds up to a a very large…


        It looks even more ordinary, exterior wise, in the light of day (versus the stage of the auto show’s LED illumination).

        The interior is nothing special…at all. In fact, I was genuinely expecting to see gauges and instruments that ebbed closer to the the Germans, and it looks VERY close to the current Fusion (with too much silver bright work, yet again, resulting in a Focus like steering wheel and Escape-like dash panel).

        What about that great European handling and driving tactility, born of the Autobahn (or other European roads)? It’s been banished, according to Michael. Bummer.

        It gets good fuel mileage, has very good interior space, and appears to have build quality rivaling….wait for it…..

        … the new Chevy Malibu. What? This was supposed to be a “game changer” and is “critical to the future of Ford” (according to Ford itself). *Michael may have missed it OR the camera is playing tricks, but does the center stack, vertical, silver plastic-ish/metallic-ish trim look very misaligned and gap-ridden to anyone else?

        There really is something to be said about building up expectations, which almost always ends in disappointment, and this is no exception.

        I expected a way more crisp interior, with Teutonicism in the gauges and switches, and way better handling and performance, with Teutonicism in the corners and through the feel of the steering wheel and gearbox, and instead….instead it would appear Ford delivers a spacious and economical, but bland sedan.

        I don’t see anything remotely approaching any “game changer” here.

        If it’s reliable, at least it’s on par with the new Camry and Accord (and Malibu), though…

        But I must now confess
        a negative bias
        that a 1.6 liter turbo nest
        hauling 3,600-ish lbs** of heft
        might make for a fine mess!

        **With a driver of normal weight.

        Ford better not be too proud to get into the aggressive lease rate game if it hopes to move volume, then.

        Great, now I have a zillion “See Your Metro Detroit Ford Dealer” Ford Fusion commercials to look forward to, talking up this vehicle as if it were the FR-S/2nd Coming- complete with that Mike Rowe guy from ‘Dirty Jobs’ “interviewing” regular consumers- if and when the NHL season ever gets under way.

        Just great….

      • 0 avatar

        Dead Weight – agreed the interior is quite meh, but most people will look at the exterior. Fords have had some distinctive interiors, now they seem to be scaling back to be more palatable to more people.

        But as to Teutonic touches inside..keep them out of a Ford, please! German interiors are horribly boring to me.

        As always, keep in mind that YMMV.

      • 0 avatar

        This is a game changer the same way the Sonata is/was – when it came out, it set a new, much higher bar for mid-sized cars to look and feel more luxury. This new Fusion looks like it cost twice it’s MSRP, easily, while not costing much more (if any, according to this review) than similarly equipped competition.

        The thing looks like a million bucks. Now if only the Taurus offered the same bang for the buck.

      • 0 avatar

        I think this vehicle’s biggest dissapointment is the capacitive Sony EFP ‘buttons.’ Your comment “Teutonicism in the gauges and switches” struck an agreeable cord with me and I’m very biased. That EFP is a cross car monster, though. Gauge-wise, it’s got he same cluster as all other Fords at the moment.

      • 0 avatar

        DeadWeight–I’ll have to review what I wrote, but what you read in my review isn’t what I intended to write! The look and feel of this car are far more European than traditionally American.

      • 0 avatar

        @ Karesh:
        Thank you for the all-nighter. The timing (and quality) of this review was superb, IMHO. I was definitely not expecting this so soon.

    • 0 avatar

      A couple of years ago on this site, I made a comment that if only Honda knocked off the Aston Rapide’s style, then Acura would have a game-changer in their showrooms. Looks like someone from Ford had the same idea. Given its mass-market focus, the styling is understandably a little more porky than the Rapide, nonetheless this is one fine looking car.

      A note about the hybrid numbers – I find the published numbers from any manufacturer are highly unreliable, and comparisons on that basis are equally so. I can’t even get an accurate reading from the mpg meter in the instrument panel, it is usually off by 2-3 mpg compared to the old fashioned miles-driven divided by gallons-to-full method from one fill-up to the next. The only way to get some reliable number is to do this in real-life. For instance, my 2010 Prius was advertised at 49mpg, and I have consistently averaged 53-55mpg in real life commuting, though the trip-computer is even more optimistic by a couple of mpg every time.

      • 0 avatar

        The Fusion’s interior is far more functional than the Rapide’s. The Aston is difficult to see out of and its back seat is quite tight. A bit quicker, though.

      • 0 avatar

        DeadWeight……I always enjoy reading your comments but I was wondering…..just out of curiosity, do any of the manufacturers build a car that you like enough to be willing to buy one? I usually agree with your opinions with the exception of some VW’s. Our fleet includes an ’08 Rabbit and a ’12 Jetta Sportwagon TDI, both of which have been flawless and drive better than anything in their respective classes.

      • 0 avatar

        I like the Rabbit/Golf, actually, and even though the 2.5 liter VW mill apparently isn’t as economical as it theoretically should/could be, it’s apparently reliable in its latest iteration.

        I like many Mazdas.

        I love me some Hondas from the mid 90s.

        I love mid 90s era BMW 5 and 3 series.

        I find that this Fusion is objectionable since it won’t age gracefully, is likely to be reliability challenged (especially with the 1.6 liter), and will age like a Home Shopping Network piece of costume jewelry.

    • 0 avatar


      Derek says a lot of things – the GT-R’s transmission feels antiquated and some more BS about the steering come to mind

      Don’t take him seriously

    • 0 avatar

      The thing is, it’s not like the new Fusion is the only one with non-boring sheetmetal.

      The Sonata actually has the more radical, albeit more polarizing sheetmetal; the Optima still has sleekest most aggressive sheetmetal in the segment and the new Mazda6 will soon join the fray – so not sure how, based mostly on its sheetmetal, that the new Fusion will be a “game changer.”

      Now will the new Fusion likely see a similar rise in sales as the Sonata and Optima have seen? Sure.

      But the “gamechanger” in the new Fusion lineup will likely be the Fusion hybrid (as hybrid variants of mass market sedans go) with its class leading fuel economy (the only question is if buyers will be willing to pay more for the Fusion hybrid than the Camry or other hybrid variants).

      Think MK has missed on a few things when it comes to his analysis on design.

      The new Altima looks quite different from its predecessor – gaining an overly busy look with lines going in all different directions (the previous Altima had a much simpler, cleaner design), as well as a different greenhouse design.

      And it’s not like the design of the new Fusion is nearly as bold or different from the segment as he makes it out to be.

      While the new Fusion has a more aggresive look to it than say, the Camry or Accord, much of it is less radical (or polarizing) than the design of the Sonata and it still doesn’t quite match the Optima in overall aesthetic appeal or aggressiveness, and it’s no more of a departure in design than the new Mazda6.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m not including the Mazda6 in my analysis because my exposure to it is thus far limited to photos.

        The changes to the Altima are much more obvious to car people than to the general public. We had a whole row of them parked along the street during the press drive, a few weeks before any shipped to dealers. Not a single lay person on the street seemed to notice they were looking at a new car.

        Both the Sonata and Optima are overly contrived, and the basic shapes and proportions of both are much more conventional than the new Fusion’s. They rely on a lot of “jewelry.” The Fusion makes a big impression while wearing very little.

        Lastly, I can’t stand the proportions of the Optima. Once you notice the massive front overhang, you can’t un-notice it.

      • 0 avatar

        “Both the Sonata and Optima are overly contrived”

        I don’t know if I’d use the word contrived, but every time I see an Optima I think to myself, “that’s a nice looking car, Peter Schreyer and his team did a nice job.” Then I see the front end and I think, “who overstyled that hot mess?”

      • 0 avatar

        I’m coming around on the new Fusion, but I have yet to test drive one.

        Why the change of heart?

        I’ve sadly come to the conclusion that most automakers are making worse vehicles than they did 5 or 7 years ago (Acura/Honda, BMW and Toyota are all examples of this trend).

        It would appear that Ford is bucking this trend.

        Reliability remains the biggest concern for me, since I’m used to a perfect reliability experience (no exaggeration) with every Japanese vehicle I’ve owned.

        But I plan on going for a test drive in the new Fusion soon, and if I like it, it will be one of the few newly designed cars of any make, whether German, Japanese or American, that I can honestly say is better than it its predecessors were.

        I’ve all but given up on Honda & Toyota in this regard, and I detested the B7 Passat because of its cheap interior materials, horrific road noise and squeaks, rattles and groans over poor road surfaces.

  • avatar

    Based on recent experience what would worry me more than reliability would be QC issues. I have a 2012 Focus, which is a brilliant car. But if there was someone in charge of quality control they must have been on lunch break when my car rolled off the line because I’ve never owned a new car with so many squeaks and rattles. The new Fusion is beautiful, but if Ford wants to win people like me who’ve driven imports for the past 10 years they’ve got to do a better job on QC.

  • avatar

    I have high hopes for this car. I cant wait to drive this and the new Mazda6 back to back.

  • avatar

    My first thought was “Ford made an Aston Martin.” Definitely taking a risk and I like it. And I hate Ford.

    • 0 avatar

      Considering that Ford kept Aston Martin (and Land Rover, Jaguar, and Volvo) alive for years at the expense of Ford Lincoln and Mercury, they can make their cars look like any one of their former “foreign brands” with complete impunity, in my opinion.

    • 0 avatar

      Just like Samsung was “taking a risk” by copying the iPhone’s OS? There won’t be any legal action, but personally I’d rather see Ford pursue it’s own identifiable front-end aesthetic, rather than just rip off Aston.

      Though it was be funny to see Chevy borrow the double kidneys from Bimmer… Add that to some of the previous Hyundai/Mercedes designs, and then we could have a whole parking lot filled with faux-luxury front ends!

      (don’t get me wrong… It looks great. But that’s because it looks like an Aston.)

      • 0 avatar

        I meant a style risk by deviating from the boring sedan, not a legal risk.

      • 0 avatar

        It only looks like the Aston Martin that Ford designed when it was part of Fords PAG. Since Ford still owns a $70,000,000 stake in Aston Martin, I doubt that Ford would sue Ford over a design that Ford designed for Aston Martin before it designed it for the Fusion.

      • 0 avatar

        A few months ago, I’m on I-94 near DTW when I spot an Aston approaching in my rearview mirror.

        Then I realized what I was actually seeing: my first new Fusion in the wild.

        If it’s close enough to fool a guy who writes about this stuff for a living, it’s pretty close.

        That’s when I realized how well this front end might actually work for Ford, IF they stick with it long enough.

    • 0 avatar

      “My first thought was “Ford made an Aston Martin.”

      True, but take a look at this 59 TBird:
      And this 58 Fairlane:

      I see a bit of these cars in it as well.

      • 0 avatar

        I suspect that real Aston Martin people will be just as thrilled to be “mistaken” for a lowly Ford Fusion as Mercedes people were when the Ford Granada was “mistaken” for their mark.

        Not. What intelligence level do you have to lower yourself to believe that level of hucksterism? Maybe the Kardashians (sic) will be celebrity endorsers.

        If Ford is gearing up production big time I now know what I’ll be forced to reject at the rental counter two years from now.

      • 0 avatar

        thornmark, you do realize who designed that Aston look? Look up Ian Callum and see where he worked. He was a Ford/PAG designer. Your rental counter snobbery may be misdirected. Who the hell is a snob when you’re at Hertz, anyway? You’re getting a fleet beater no matter how you slice it.

        I laugh at all the cries about the ‘lifted’ design. Either I’m getting old (or know way too much useless auto industry knowledge), or the internet peanut gallery is really young.

  • avatar

    Nice looking car. I’m a Honda fanboy but I’d consider it if I was in the market.

    One thing I don’t like, and everyone does it, is the trunk opening. It might be spacious, but I normally don’t carry sand, I carry objects that probably won’t fit in that mail slot.

    Also, I keep cars until I crash them or they die, usually 200,000+ miles and 10-12 years of ownership. Is a turbo going to last that long, even with synthetic oil and going by book?

    Not much savings, if you get a little better gas mileage now, but pay for it later with expensive repairs.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a travesty that the rear window doesn’t raise up with the trunklid, even optionally (as with the Skoda Superb’s ‘Twindoor’). The shape of the car is just begging to be a liftback, with its swoopy rear window, almost-nonexistent deck, and high beltline. Other than that, I can’t really complain.

    • 0 avatar

      “Mail Slot”
      Indeed — I was *this close* (pinches finger and thumb) to buying a Mazda 6 liftback in its last year of production, but its anemic 4-cylinder engine (PZEV only available in western PA) turned me off to it.
      Of course, if the new Fusion design is a bit “porky”, a liftback would add around 100 lbs to THAT, and it would be above the COG.

      Oh, well, there’s always the Tesla Model S :-)

      Nice Review, Michael – you covered most of the important points well, considering the limited time that you had with the cars.

  • avatar

    Very informative review. Was this the sponsored media event? I ask because this is the first review I have seen. I would have thought Edmunds and others would have something posted, but nothing at the moment.
    I few questions :

    Do you know when the car is due in showrooms?
    Does the Fusion have as much usable space inside as the new Camry and Accord?
    You said the hybrid doesn`t have an instantaneous driving aid – so have they stopped with the leafs idea that they had for the previous Fusion hybrid?
    Does the Fusion out handle the Accord and Mazda 6?

    Thanks Michael for the review.

    • 0 avatar

      The plant was just granted OK to proceed to retail sale. So they’ll be in showrooms as soon as the supply chain can distribute them.

      I’m wondering if this was a media invite only press event. I tried to help Derek out with some contacts.

    • 0 avatar

      This was the major media launch. They simultaneously conducted drives on Wednesday and Thursday at multiple locations around the country.

      Given that there was no embargo, and that we don’t often get our hands on a major new car so early, I stayed up until 7AM writing this review. And I had another drive to attend at 8:30 (I ended up missing the breakfast).

      The review is longer and less polished than it would have been without the rush, but I knew many people wanted to read a review ASAP. So it was posted this morning and not tomorrow morning.

  • avatar

    If they create an ST version of this car, Ford can take my money. Absolutely gorgeous.

    • 0 avatar

      Once they roll out the smaller V6 GTDI, I would think that an ST version would be a no brainer.

    • 0 avatar
      juicy sushi

      The Titanium in AWD with a manual would probably be pretty close if it had some decent tires.

      • 0 avatar

        Hopefully, like the Focus, the Fusion Titanium will have optional Michelin PS3s. For us living in the snow belt, winter tires will be required.

      • 0 avatar

        The manual is only offered with the 1.6T, while the 2.0T is standard in the Titanium. So no manual Titanium.

        The optional tires fitted to the tested Titanium were M+S ContiProContacts, not a very aggressive tire.

        As other commenters have suggested, Ford seems to have left plenty of room for a higher performance Fusion above the Titanium. They claim that the 2.0T replaces the old 3.0, so no direct replacement yet for the old Sport’s 3.5.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, it *would* be great if Ford decided to offer something like the Europe- and Asia-only Mondeo ST220 (obviously, with more than the 220hp of that particular mid-2000s model). Heck, why not “SHO” it?

  • avatar

    I’m sure the fastback style is there to aid fuel economy, but another 3-box sedan has bitten the dust. It appears all cars will soon join this crowd.

    Do I like this design trend? Yes and no. A sedan has to be practical, and all the swoopiness reduces this practicality.

    While the earlier Fusions looked like an early-2000’s Accord, it was a very nice, practical car, if not visually exciting. This one? I’ll have to check one out in February at our auto show. I’ll withold judgment until then.

    I really do hope it is successful – anything to steal sales from Toyota and Honda. That would make me very happy, even if it is a Ford and I’m a Chevy guy! That’s my emotion and passion showing…

  • avatar

    The new Fusion looks awesome, and this review is very encouraging. I am awaiting a review of the MKZ with a proper V6. The only less than positive thing I can say is: what is the point of the driver’s floor mat? Weathertech floorliners will be a must!

  • avatar

    If only a wagon were available. *Sigh*

  • avatar

    As I’ve said before I’m 99.9999% sure this will be the vehicle to replace my Accord.

    I’m impressed with where Ford has come. When I bought my Honda in 2001 (used 1999 model) there was nothing Ford made that I would even consider. (Ditto that for GM and Chrysler.) Just over a decade later there is nothing that Honda/Toyota make that I’d consider in this “all important” mid-size market. Most surprised at Honda since they historically were a “more fun” brand than other Japanese mfr’s.

    Let the sheeple have their conservative bland mobiles from Toyota/Honda/Nissan. I want a Ford.

  • avatar

    Very thorough review.

    I’m glad to see the Fusion lives up to it’s appearance. I hope they sell a ton of them.

  • avatar

    “when combined with multi-spoke wheels, the midsection appears distended and stiff … Five-spoke rims fix this.”

    I disagree. I like the front & back ends, but everything between the wheels doesn’t appeal to me, and different wheels don’t help. I am especially tired of designers trying to hide door handles in a crease along the door. I will give Ford credit though for not going to the obscenely goofy levels of Hyundai & BMW for depth & swoopiness of the crease.

    • 0 avatar

      “there’s no instantaneous evaluation of driving style aside from the indicators of engine and motor output, with a mark noting the maximum possible in EV mode. The Ford engineer claimed that they decided that overly involving instantaneous feedback would prove an unsafe distraction.”

      I don’t buy it, either, but if their statement is true, they have a severe disconnect within the company. This info is nothing compared to MFT (with its location, movement, different screens, small buttons, etc.).

      • 0 avatar

        I can see where they are coming from, there could be the temptation to follow the display too closely to track the continuous changes, whether feedback display or mpg numbers. I bet their normal trip computer has an instant-mpg display though, which amounts to the same thing.

  • avatar

    O.k., 1.6T + 6 speed manual is a big winner for me. Where’s my Wagon?

    • 0 avatar

      Your wagon is nowhere in sight. And your 6 speed manual will be the choice of no more than 1 % of the pool of potential buyers in this segment. As a Ford shareholder, it makes me crazy that management wastes scarce resources on such foolishness as a manual transmission in an otherwise attractive car. Dollars spent on boy racer fantasies such as MTs could have been allocated much more profitably. Leave the MTs to our insolvent friends in Europe.

  • avatar

    Have they really discovered that a weirdly inverted pyramid of buttons is an easier way to control HV/AC and your radio? I’m guessing not, and this was just a styling exercise to be hip.

    Other than the center stack, which is becoming a garbled mess in most cars, it looks pretty damn good. But I do wonder as someone else pointed out the usefulness of the trunk with a 6″ deck lid.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m with you on the centre stack. It really is an ergonomic wreck.

      Toyota and VW used to be the best at this: simple, easy to pick out knobs. The problem is that reviewers find that kind of layout either boring or amateurish. And yes, it does look like Playskool; that’s because big knobs are exactly what you want in an overpowered two-ton, amateur-piloted sled.

      • 0 avatar

        The disturbing trend towards “swoopy” center consoles (ostensibly to put the touch screens and assorted chiclets within reach), really hurts long-legged drivers, who have to hope that the part of the console that their knee rests on isn’t rock-hard, rough-grained plastic… :-(

  • avatar

    That was a really thorough review. I’m guessing it’ll move a lot of units to actual retail customers. If they offered a Hybrid wagon version maybe I’d consider one, but I already bought a Jetta wagon.

    As for the interior choices, that’s the same thing with VW. In the US you have a choice of black vinyl, or cornsilk beige vinyl. In Canada you get a choice of black cloth or black cloth in the Golf wagon. While I don’t care about a burgundy color choice like cars from the malaise era, it would have been nice to have gray as an option.

  • avatar

    Hmmm, let’s configure a Focus SE…

    Manual Transmission? Check!

    Sunroof? Check!

    Navigation? Check!

    Full color palette? Check!

    Under 30k MSRP? Check!

    Ding, ding!! We have a winner! Bravo, Ford!! Thank you for giving us stick driver REAL options!

    Ability to trade in my Honda without fiancee castrating me with a butter knife? Not so check…

    Damn, I want this car.

  • avatar


    I was REALLY looking forward to your review on this car.
    I will agree 1000% on the side. Kinda of bland. Even a little Taurus like with its lines.

    However, when your small wish list comes at the end, I kind of understand Ford. I mean, you suggest earlier that the car maker did an outstanding job addressing every little detail wen developing the new car and admitted you were stumped as to how they ended with the competitive pricing.
    Well, I would suppose somewhere along the line a very stubborn accountant sat with his/her arms crossed and refused to budge/agree with everybody else around the table!
    Eventually, somebody had to stand firm on cost and some new changes had to be reined in, right???

    I think your point about the 2.0 weight is why I enjoyed driving the 1.6 Escape over the 2.0. It just felt more lightweight. I suppose the engine weight up front did this?

    Nice LONG review.

    • 0 avatar

      I had the same impression with the Escape (drove a 1.6T a few weeks ago, driving a 2.0T this week). The larger engine adds about 90 pounds over the front axle. Doesn’t seem like much as a percentage of the total, but it can have a very noticeable impact. Going from the manual to the automatic also adds about 90 pounds. So the front end is much lighter on the 1.6T manual than the 2.0T automatic.

  • avatar

    I like it, really good looking car that doesnt go to far into strange territory, interior looks really good, performance looks good, price is definitely right. If Ford can pull of the same thing with the next Mustang I might just wait for it instead of pulling the trigger on the current one.

  • avatar

    Good looking car for about a year then it will look outdated just like any other overstyled car. But basing their bread and butter car on a bunch of turbo engines? Not looking forward to the F stock price tanking further.

  • avatar

    Excellent review, handsome car. Can we hope for a five-door version?

  • avatar

    Since Hyundai might be inflating their horsepower numbers, perhaps the turbo Ford’s 240 might be competitive with the turbo Sonata’s “274”. A 0-60 time would have been nice. Too bad you didn’t drop the clutch or double-clutch or whatever these things have in them these days.

    Since Hyundai is intent upon speeding up the assembly lines, perhaps
    Ford can now compete with fit and finish.

    Very nice job distinguishing the merits and minuses of all the variations. They all sound pretty good. It looks like Ford has really tried with fuel economy. My hat is off to them and Volkswagen
    for efforts in this department.

  • avatar

    We’ll be buying a new car within the next 18-24 months, and at the moment the Optima EX is leading the options. The Fusion though… The value isn’t quite as apparent but I just wonder down the road, as we plan to keep this car for at least 10 years (our Camry is now 11 and is just starting to experience the kinds of expensive problems that make us start thinking about replacing it).

    I just wonder what these cars will look like, both in terms of reliability data and appearance/equipment/options in 2 years time?

  • avatar

    I can’t believe how heavy these things are. They weigh nearly as much as an mid-nineties minivan or Buick. I wonder if supercharging would not weigh less than turbo boosting. The manufacturers seem to be going for drivability and lowspeed torque anyway, which are done best with a SC. Seems like longterm reliability would be better supercharging as there is less heat in the engine compartment. Somebody tell me I’m wrong.

    I have read negative things about cylinder deactivation. Maybe having to do with lubrication issues? I can’t remember. Somebody educate me.

    • 0 avatar

      Turbocharging adds efficiency by using waste heat energy in the exhaust. Supercharging steals power directly from the crankshaft to create boost. Efficiency whole point of going small I-4 + boost instead of a bigger V-6 for torque. I echo others concern about long term durability.

      With cylinder deactivation you are still carrying along the extra weight of a larger engine and none of the internal friction goes away.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford claims that cylinder deactivation isn’t as good because it still has all the friction losses. They say that simply eliminating those cylinders and boosting the remaining ones does a better job.

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t see a turbo weighing much more than a supercharger. A little extra plumbing, sure, but no gear and chain. Has to be a wash, or pretty close.

      But yeah, that’s a lot of weight for the Little Engine That Could (hopefully) to haul around.

  • avatar

    Um… I’d like to file a complaint, please…

    What used to be called the greenhouse is now barely a bubble. Uniformly, mercilessly and inescapably driving a modern car has become literally oppressive. It’s like having Julius Peppers push your head down further and further into your shoulders while telling you to watch where you’re going because it’s getting really crowded and everyone has 200+ HP to play with.

    If I’m not alone in hating this incredible assault on safety and comfort, then there’s got to be a backlash coming.

    • 0 avatar

      Truer words were never spoken! (I guess, since I know nothing about Julius Peppers– a wrestler?) Modern cars are becoming so couped-up with plunging rooflines that I can barely near to sit inside. Ever had claustrophobia, even just a little? Try riding in a black-on-black Mustang to set off that unpleasant reaction. I had one as a rental car for several days. I put 40 miles on it, when I absolutely had to drive.

      The limit on low rooflines, I guess, is the size of the jumbo drink at the drive-up window. So you and I have to hoist a Big Gulp and toast Starbucks, McDonalds, and other chains who excessive beverage servings prevent our side windows from becoming even smaller.

    • 0 avatar

      I look back at what you consider a greenhouse and I think, “WTF is with the giant windows?” The newish sanely sized greenhouses look so much better than the one of the last 20 years or so. I don’t understand what giant windows get you other than seeing the bottom of whatever is next to you. High beltlines forever!!!

  • avatar

    Excellent review. Would love to see a 6MT comparison between the 1.6 Ecoboost and the Honda Accord Sport.

    • 0 avatar

      Sadly, I have no idea how soon I’ll drive the new Accord. Honda hasn’t provided me with any press cars since the TL-S some time ago. And I’ve just learned that the dealer that was providing me with cars to test has a new manager, and the new manager doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

      I have sat in the new Accord. For me, it’s interior is on par with past Accords, but not with the Fusion and Malibu. And, as noted in the review, I’m having a hard time distinguishing it from the previous Accord. Unlike with the new Fusion, there’s going to be little “love at first sight” with the new Accord.

  • avatar

    Nice-looking car, inside and out – easily the best-looking of all midsizers (and sure to age better than the Hyundai and Kia). Between the Hybrid and the C-Max, Ford now has a couple of legit anti-Toyota green weapons at its disposal.

  • avatar

    This is a very solid car from all accounts (and hey, there’s a manual option too!), but for some reason I just can’t get past that really chunky mid section with the high beltline. That’s a problem with a lot of cars these days, but it seems to ruin an otherwise handsome car.

  • avatar

    Very impressive and thorough review.

    The car’s looks are growing on me, and for you to say it’s the best in this segment is really something.

  • avatar

    Looks fabulous but they abandoned people interested in engine performance. Mid 8 second 0-60 with the top engine AWD totally misses the mark.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford tends to add performance engines or change engines in the second year of a new product. Exaples include: Explorer Sport, Focus ST, F-150 Ecoboost/Coyote, previous gen Escape, Flex Ecoboost, etc. Look for the perfromance engines to show up down the road. Ford needs to concentrate on the versions most people will actually purchase.

    • 0 avatar

      I can remember when mid 8 seconds in 0-60 time was fairly quick. A 1970 Boss 302 Mustang barely beat 7 seconds.

  • avatar

    This car is as radically different from the outgoing Fusion as the ’55 Chevy was from the ’54.

    Nice to see the next great leap in this segment come from an American company.

  • avatar
    Joe McKinney

    “Many midsize sedan buyers demand roomy cabins and capacious trunks.”

    If roomy cabins are a priority, why do most modern family sedans have huge center stacks and consoles which make the driver and front seat passenger feel like they are sitting in a sports car? You have one knee resting against the door panel, the other against the console, and the top of the console is right under one of your elbows. Some people may like this tight, confined feeling, but I do not. Give me a minivan with a flat floor, a low console between the front seats, and room to stretch out and be comfortable.

    • 0 avatar

      People want roomy cabins but they also want the car to feel sporty.

      When I sit in these “sports” sedans, my knees are not hitting either the console or the door panel, and my elbow usually lands right on the center armrest like it should. If you are a really big guy and need more room, I could see it being a problem, but I dont think many people have trouble fitting into a midsized sedan these days.

      And like you said, if a minivan is more comfortable to you, they sell plenty of them for you to choose instead. Why would they want to design a sedan that fits like a minivan??

      • 0 avatar

        Big/tall people like good gas mileage and nimble handling too ;-)

        And I DO like the subtle trick of making the stock radio screen look like a 10″ 1945 television (lost in a sea of bezel) – an easy upsell to a screen (and other stuff you might not want) that looks like it belongs there. Same with fog lights these days – same with small wheels that are lost in huge wheel wells
        You can get a $23,000 mid-size sedan from any carmaker, but there are so many small visual offenses like those mentioned, that the $27,000 version starts to make sense./rant

  • avatar

    Thanks for the great review. This does look like a great update.

    I’ve got my 29th company car on order right now. The first 18 were all Tauri. This year I chose the new Escape over the new Fusion. You are still right to be concerned about quality in new models from Ford. When the first 6 speed automatic came out that Escape went to the shop 3 times that year, with one rebuild and one new transmission. But they’ve been solid ever since. I’m sure this will be a great car – next year. And maybe this year.

  • avatar

    Surprised to see that Ford was humble enough to admit a mistake and make MFT optional on the mid level trims. The standard center stack is an over styled mess but at least the HVAC knobs are where they’re supposed to be.

    Still doesn’t have a greenhouse or a V6 but what all new car does anymore? Sounds like they did a good job on the ride and handling balance, at 3,500 lb it’s not chintzy like an Altima or Sonata, the interior outside of the center stack looks good.

    That said, I wouldn’t buy or recommend a Mexican car no matter how good it is when every single one of its competitors is built in America or Canada. Shame on you Ford.

    • 0 avatar

      A good portion of this generation’s Fusions are being built in the USA. And the economic development of Mexico is probably good for the US.

    • 0 avatar

      Hermosillo is coming on line first, but Flat Rock in Michigan (which used to make the Mazda6 and also makes the Mustang) will join it next spring. 1,200 workers are being hired:

      With 1.5 plants they could produce enough cars to outsell the Camry.

  • avatar

    The more I see this car, the uglier it gets. Odd proportions, ugly rear lights, and the Chinese-esq “rip off” front end just don’t go together.

    But the biggest thing hurting this mid-sized appliance is the recent major quality issues plaguing Ford. From the manual transmission in the Mustang, the faulty dual clutch transmission, the numerous recalls on the Escape, the recent recall on the Edge should have people very hesitant to buy a new Ford. This Fusion has a lot of electronic gimmicks that, when they break, could be very dangerous.

    And Ford has yet top acknowledge all of the issues with the 2011+ Explorer losing steering ability and all of the issues F-150 owners are experiencing with the egoboost 3.5.

    Ford’s quality control has been on vacation for the past couple years. Probably because Ford thinks it’s better than everyone. That decision is catching up to them quickly.

  • avatar

    “But, due to a large, high-mounted, and very well shaped rear seat, the Fusion is the midsizer I’d personally prefer to be chauffeured in.”

    Wow a midsize with a backseat made for people who aren’t children or luggage. Kudos Ford, a human sized backseat has eluded most of the industry.

    • 0 avatar

      Hell, I’m noticing more and more cars with front seats designed for children or midgets. I especially hate those barstool-sized seat bottoms with no thigh support whatsoever. And I’m only 5’9″; I can’t imagine how much it must suck for people who are actually tall.

      • 0 avatar

        Lately, my problem with back seats hasn’t been legroom, it’s footroom! I wear size 13.5-14 shoes and some of these cars require me to sit twisted in the seat to allow my feet to move at all. Same goes for the front in some, not many, but some vehicles. I have a lot of trouble and discomfort driving them, there isn’t enough room to be comfortable and allow me to keep my foot from hitting the brake pedal when I’m not trying to even touch it.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    Great review of what appears to be a very good car. However, this sentence in the last paragraph doesn’t sound correct:
    “On the other hand, “poor” reliability these days often means one fairly minor problem per year instead of one every two or three years.”

    • 0 avatar

      It’s correct, but perhaps badly written.

      The worst fairly new car average about one repair trip per year. This can actually feel like “all the time,” given how quickly time passes.

      The average fairly new car requires a single repair trip in its first 2.5 years.

    • 0 avatar

      My former 02 Passat required 12 dealer trips in the 3 years I had it. I hope that’s the poorest reliability I ever see.

      • 0 avatar

        Sounds like slightly above average reliability if you go by VW standards.

      • 0 avatar

        2002 was a long time ago … looking at TrueDelta’s more recent data, the 2012 Passat (it’s still early for this model) is averaging 0.58 trips per year, and it’s worse than average.

        The current-generation Jetta models are at 0.30 trips/year (better than average) for 2011 and 0.58 (worse than average) for 2012. According to TrueDelta, most of the trips on the 2012 models are to repair rattles.

        As Michael says, just about all new cars sold today are remarkable reliable, compared to those in the 1970s or 1980s.

  • avatar

    Nice car, but you lost me at “turbo” and “premium unleaded”.

    I’ll take a Camry SE (4 OR 6 cyl.) over this.

  • avatar

    A+ review Michael! Thanks!

  • avatar

    “Commuters don’t like quick, direct, communicative steering because they just want to relax as they cruise (or crawl) to and from work.”

    That is something I will never understand. I can’t believe people actually bitch that their car turns when they move the freaking wheel.

    And how on earth does a steering wheel that actually feels like it’s connected to the front end somehow make the car less relaxing, anyway? I certainly don’t feel safer when I’m driving a car that feels like a worn-out dump truck.

  • avatar

    Anyone else notice that the back seat cushion is tilted in the knees-meet-face orientation so heads clear the sloping roof? Have fun spending time back there, Michael.

    • 0 avatar

      Speaking from experience: it’s not bad. I rode back seat for 2 hours and thought it was just as good as the prior platform. I was expecting a Fiesta-sore-rear from the appearance of the bottom cushion.

  • avatar

    I would love to see how an AWD titanium stacks up against a Subaru Legacy. This looks like a fantastic all around car. If I was in the market, it would be in my short list.

    • 0 avatar

      Me, too! A few minutes before reading this article, I “built” a 2013 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD on line and was disappointed that the only interior color was black and that the rear seat back doesn’t fold. I must get a car by early Spring 2013 and am once again favoring a 2013 Subaru Legacy sedan. To improve roadholding and handling, I’d change the Legacy’s tires to grippier rubber.

  • avatar

    Gorgeous car. I think its the best looking of the mid size family sedan class. I’ve owned and ridden in Fords since the late 90s and I’ve always found them to be solidly built.

    I’m trying to convince my wife that as soon as she conceives she DOES NOT need to go get a big old SUV/CUV.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re right, Dan, except…

      That mail-slot trunk will drive you freakin’ insane the first time you try and stuff a stroller or Pack’n’Play in, and each and every time after. Not to mention trying to remove them again. While you’re carting around all the detritus that goes with having a baby these days, something with a hatch is a better bet. (Or a big long trunk lid, like a nice Crown Vic PI….)

      • 0 avatar

        It’ll all fit fine. That stuff (stroller, pack n play, luggage for 4 days, plus bringing booze back from Cal-it’s cheaper) fit perfectly in a rental 12 Sonata, in our 12 Accord and best in a 11/12 Fusion (thanks to no goosenecks). This trunk will do just fine. The Accord is the smallest mainly due to the intrusive rear double-wishbone suspension so I’m sure the 13 Fusion will handle the load of a kid or two.

        But yes, It’s all easier in the Outback.

  • avatar

    Good review, Michael. I’m still not sold on this car’s styling, as I’m not a huge fan of the Hyundai Sonata’s either. Both cars are kind of swoopy, but neither one really grabs me. I personally like the ATS/CTS or even the new Taurus (Galaxie, rename the d*mned thing Galaxie!) boxy-wedgy kind of style better.

    Regardless of my concerns, here’s hoping that the new Fusion will be a winner for Ford. It would be deja-vu all over again if the Fusion were to become the sales monster the Taurus was in the early 90’s.

  • avatar

    I’m very happy to see the review of this car. I had been planning on getting one since we first started seeing the camo-ed cars a year ago.

    I even signed up for X-Plan through EAA, my previous employer had X-Plan but not my current. $40 for X-Plan.

    This would be a car for my wife, to replace our 98 Acura 3.2TL and I would take back the Outback (she complained of having to shift and the Acura was starting to nickel and dime a little).

    We started considering the 12 Fusion SEL V6 or Sport, they were marked down to $22k. The SEL I4 was not that great. The V6 would have helped me live with the interior shortcomings. I went out of town for a business trip, even had a Fusion for a rental, and came back. Our local dealer had sent all V6 models to a dealer in Cal. X-Plan on a SEL V6 would have been $26k+TTL. Couldn’t find any good deals in the country.

    Well, a buddy from Houston called and his girlfriend sells Hondas. He was looking for Fusions down there too, but he said she would give me $5k under invoice on an Accord. Not bad. Plus 0.9% financing. So, I got a purchase order for a Accord EX-L I4 and it was $25k OTD. Used Delta miles and HHonors, only paid for fuel and food on the 2000 mile trip home. My wife loves the car, and yes it’s gray/gray like everyone wants to hate these days. But, it’s nicely equipped with lots of features and the 2 carseats fit perfectly with room for an adult in the backseat. The 2.4 pulls the car along quite nicely and the transmission shifts very quickly and very smooth…we’ve already taken the car to SF Bay Area and San Juan Islands (Washington). A little noisy but as I’ve experienced in the past, part of that is due to the Michelins that Honda uses.

    I figured as soon as I saw the 2013 Fusion, I’d regret my purchase. I don’t think I am, yeah I wanted to buy a Ford again (my family used to be them and then recently my dad got a 12 Mustang GT and my mom has a 10 Taurus SHO). But, for the price we bought the Accord for (and the financing offered) it would have been with a 1.6l turbo 4, cloth seats, single-zone climate control. All fine with me, but happy wife means happy life.

    You want to know what really sealed the deal in my mind: depreciation. We plan on keeping the car at least 10 years, maybe more because our oldest son would be 15 by then. My first car was a 10 year old Integra. Anyways, I sold our 98 Acura (Craigslist) within 12 hours of posting. 3 folks called, first one came with cash and bought it. He loves it, saw him at the grocery store recently. Sold it for $4500. My in-laws have spent 3 months trying to sell their 99 Continental. Both had similar mileage, similar condition (really good), both sold new for a similar price (low $30k range). They even have a V8! Well, they finally sold it for $1700.

    Yup, even though folks believe that Hondas are crap now, which they’re not, the H will still mean more in a decade than the blue oval. Sucks, but it’s true.

    So yes, I really like the Fusion but I’m very happy with the choice we made. Gray is great.

    And, I have always been a champion of Subaru but I’m not certain I’ll get another one of those…at 66k, this past week I replaced brakes (normal), front hubs/wheel bearings, and a front axle. Way too soon for that stuff. Oh, and head gaskets at 28k miles (warranty covered). Plus it has little squeaks and such. Still a great vehicle for living in Idaho.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      “You want to know what really sealed the deal in my mind: depreciation. We plan on keeping the car at least 10 years, maybe more . . . ”
      –If you’re keeping it for 10+ years, then depreciation will be less of an issue between the Accord and the Fusion. Of course, who knows what the reputation of those two cars will be in 2023!

    • 0 avatar

      I would love a clean ’99 Conti for 17, hell I would have prob offered 2.

    • 0 avatar

      I should add that I’m not a big fan of the button happy center stack but I’ve gotten used to it. For the climate, I just hit auto and rarely adjust the temp or fan speed. The big tuning knob is perfectly situated so that I can rest my hand on the shifter (which I did swap out from a Crosstour, less plastic more fake leather).

      The only other thing that Honda surprised me about was the lack of hood insulation. 2012 was the first year they stopped putting it in, but added insulation to the trunklid. So, between that and the shift knob…I’ve spent $100 out of pocket on the car.

      The handling is satisfactory considering it’s a midsizer and the transmission, unlike Ford’s 6F35, will hold intuitively hold a gear for you. Maybe 5 forward speeds it outdated, but it works. And the I4’s AT hasn’t had any issues.

      Again, if it wasn’t for the deal we got then I would have placed an order for the Fusion. SE 2.0T with appearance package and sunroof. Wife would have complained about not having leather (because it’s easy to clean and heated seats) and dual-zone (I tell her to open the window).

  • avatar

    Everything I have seen from Ford lately makes me want to duck and cover. Except this car- which probably isn’t that bad. There is a lot not to like, But it doesn’t look to be as bad as I thought it would be overall, and it probably won’t be a failure. That’s not to say it’s a car I would own, but it comes across as much less worse than recent Ford’s.

    I didn’t expect to say that after what I have written in the last few days, but credit where it’s due. It’s kind of a relief.

    Why no review of the V6? No one actually buys stick shift four cars this big. Yeah, yeah, Ford is hard selling the turbo whatever in the reviews, but no- Didn’t even mention the 6.

    EDIT: Nevermind. Scratch that. Scratch everything. The internet I looked up says There isn’t a V6. See how that happens? Just when you think something good might be happening…Nope, done with the Ford articles for a while. Time for a coffee break.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup, the Duratec 3.0 is gone now. The 3.5 was the one to get though, about the same mileage with more power, less weight, and a reliable transmission. That was another deal killer for me on the 12 SEL, transmission programming issues. Sorry, I just want something that works straight out of the box/lot.

  • avatar

    Unless some genuinely holier-than-thou, tree hugging ( :) ) Priusite can step up to the plate and make a good case for this hybrid achieving it’s EPA numbers with much more “gaming” that the Prius itself, I will recommend this large, decent handling and Aston looking thingy, to everyone who asks me about a fuel efficient commuter.

    47/47 in a Camry sized, sane looking and non-minitire equipped new car, is definitely close to game changing as far as hybrids go. Now, just build (or bring to NA) the wagon, already, for all those who supposedly have been begging Toyota for the Prius V.

  • avatar

    That’s a Beautiful car. If only they had the 3.5L ecoboost with AWD like the Taurus SHO. I’d take it over the A7 and never look back.

  • avatar

    I own a 2012 Fusion S, 6-speed stick. No complaints…..
    The 2013 Fusion is utterly gorgeous, clearly the most beautiful mid-sizer. But I have some concerns:
    WHY does Ford need a 1.6L turbo to meet the fuel economy goals that Japanese brands meet with conventional 4cylinders? Why didn’t Ford just improve its current 2.5L ??
    What is the fascination with turbos anyway? The Cruze’s 1.4L turbo is ok, but it’s a guzzler during spirited driving. The Escape’s turbo offers no advantage over its rivals’ conventional engines. And check the message boards on the turbos in the Mazda CX7 and the Acura RDX–they slurp down premium fuel at an alarming rate….
    Turbos work fine in Europe, to be sure. Because most of the time, the cars in Europe don’t exceed 45mph.

    My prediction with the Fusion: the base model (2.5L) will be the volume model, much to Ford’s chagrin. Honda will aggressively price the new Accord to keep the Fusion below 200k sales/year.

    But the new Fusion is a gorgeous car…….thank you TTAC, you always have something superb and new for me to read when I get home from work.

    • 0 avatar

      The Fusion sold nearly 250k last year and will top that this year; it would take some doing for this impressive new model to do significantly worse in an improving market.

      There’s no way the 2.5 will be the volume model because Ford won’t build enough of them. Initial production is going to be based on predicted demand, not actual demand, so there will be way more 1.6s around for the taking.

    • 0 avatar

      The biggest benefit of the turbos is the low end torque. There’s just no way to get the same effortless (and quiet) acceleration from a naturally aspirated 4 banger.

      The price jump from the Escape S with the 2.5 to the Escape SE with the 1.6 EB is worth it for the engine alone. The HP figures are similar, but the driving experience is night and day different.

      All of the EcoBoost motors are designed to run on plain old 87 octane, and that’s what we fill them with at the dealership. After having driven the F-150 5.0 V8 vs 3.5 EB, Escape 2.5 vs 1.6 EB, and Edge 3.5 V6 vs 2.0 EB, I see no reason why I would ever want to buy a vehicle without a turbocharged engine.

      • 0 avatar

        How much of a difference does 87 make to economy and driveability? Is it a case where fuel economy suffers to the point where you might as well put premium in?

        From what I have read of various Subaru and VAG products, I have durability concerns with high mileage turbos. Maybe it isn’t fair to judge a piece of technology on a few samples of it, but you have to admit that a turbo adds additional opportunity for failure.

    • 0 avatar

      Doesn’t europe have some taxes based on engine size? So, even if a larger 4 makes similar power and mpg it will get taxed higher.

    • 0 avatar

      45mph? Not at all. Either you’re driving much slower (like 30mph in big cities) or much faster, with little in between.

      I drove 105mph for about 45mins this afternoon in a car equipmed with a turbo. Seemed to handle it fine, just like it has for the last 40000 miles in 18 months.

  • avatar

    I’m waiting for the plug-in version. Mainly because I want an HOV access sticker but also because my employer may move to a building with built-in electric car charging stations.

  • avatar

    Great review. This is a gorgeous car, and it sounds like it’s almost as good as it looks. I’ve actually got a friend strongly considering this for his first new car; he’s a bit snobbish and was initially only considering Buicks, Volvos and Audis but the looks of this car seem to override his “ew, it’s a Ford” reaction.

    I was a bit puzzled by your comment about the sides looking a bit “stiff” (I recall you said the same thing after the Detroit show) but looking at that picture of the Hybrid, I see where you’re coming from. Though I think the color might be just as much to blame (and it’s a minor complaint regardless, because it still looks good).

    Personally, my favorite is the 1.6T manual with the Appearance Package, probably in either Deep Impact Blue or Bordeaux Reserve. Although I have to admit the Hybrid is very appealing as well, what with those mileage figures…and it can also be spec’d with the SE Appearance Package. In an ideal world of course I’d go for the manual diesel wagon that Europe is going to get, but alas…

  • avatar

    The trunk lid is flush with the rear bumper, making the bumper all but useless in a rear collision, even a slight parking lot bump.

  • avatar

    The trunk lid is flush with the rear bumper, making the bumper all but useless in a rear collision, even in a slight parking lot bump.

  • avatar

    Who out there actually has a 33 inch waistline??

    I’m jealous…

    • 0 avatar

      I do.

      I was just complaining about the opposite today! Since sales are on I can’t find any jeans that are a decent size. I never imagined there was that big a market for guys with size 34 or 36 waists buying upper-priced jeans, but it looks like I was wrong :)

  • avatar

    Ford needs to figure out a way to graft a version of that grille onto the front end of the Focus as soon as humanly possible.

  • avatar

    Like this new design. Only problem with the old one was, well, you almost couldn’t drive it because of the transmission…

  • avatar

    Like the exterior but the interior leaves me cold. Couldn’t Ford have at the very least made it two tone instead of all black with fake shiny piano black trim which I find silly as it shows dust and every single scratch with use. The lack of a V6 is worrisome as most of it’s Asian competition have one available. I’m not sold on the turbo 4’s yet at least not from Ford/GM and Hyundai. Various examples from owners have seen sharp decreases in both mileage and power with 45k miles on one Sonata T and another Optima owner claims mileage is far lower than the sticker, a complaint I also have observed with many Cruze, Regals and the Korean cars with the turbo engine. The direct injection on the 2.0 liter engines would seem to have a carbon issue that also shows up on some German designs and I wonder if that is what some owners are experiencing.

  • avatar

    Michael, what do you prefer, this or the Altima? You seemed to enjoy both cars very much, based on the reviews.

    Between the Fusion, Altima, Camry, and (new) Accord, which has the best ride/handling balance?

  • avatar

    Never mind the looks is it any good? The Hybrid has a CVT and the 2.5 makes 1 more HP than my boorish Sentra SER and weighs more. Seems the 2.0 Direct Injection is way to go but what about out-of-warranty repair costs?

    The center stack is touch activation which means visual confirmation and greasy prints. The thick A pillars require double check for their pedestrian blind-spot when turning in intersections.

    Good pricing by Ford and I do like the looks.

  • avatar

    Given Fusion history rapid depreciation indicates it would be a better buy used. I’d guess majority fleet will be 2.5.
    For the used buyer Hybrid complexity will be a turn off and the 2.0 DI could be dicey after powertrain coverage expires. I wonder if this Fusion will have a problem getting through to the traditional six buyer?

  • avatar

    I was playing around with the Ford’s configurator and, with all boxes ticked on the Titanium model, the sticker was near whoa-Nelly $40 grand. Who pays that for a mid sizer? More to the point, with pricing like that, where will the new MKZ fit in?

    Great review Michael, enjoyed the way you broke down the different trade-offs. I get the feeling the new Fusion is a car Honda, Toyota and Chevy and placing a keen eye on.

    • 0 avatar

      You can get more stuff on a Fusion, so if you load it up the price is considerably higher than others. The biggest chunk is $2,000 for AWD. Can’t get that on an Accord or Camry.

      Still, wondering the same thing, I entered pricing for the MKZ a few days ago. About $6,000 more before adjusting for feature differences, and about $4,500 more afterwards.

  • avatar

    Which of these cars would you consider the better driver?

    Considering this car’s 2.0L with leather, and every option but Adaptive cruise control is about $35,000, would you rather have this or a DODGE CHARGER?

    I’d go for the Charger because it’s got more space, a strong V6 and a better technology package. Here in NYC, you can get a Charger with Nav, leather and moonroof for less than $33,000 since the dealers are aggressively moving them.

    I’m betting you liked the manumatic shift button on the automatic shifter better than the top-mounted manumatic button in the Chevy Malibu!

  • avatar

    Having come very close to a 2012 Fusion sport AWD and instead ended up with a 2012 charger R/T I find the changes somewhat interesting but see one problem. The ford electronics. Due to smashing an errant dog my R/T ended up in the shop and I was given a 2012 Flex limited as a rental. Well after having it for a couple weeks I can say the LCD panel and general non responsiveness of the electronics will keep me from considering any for product for a few years.

  • avatar

    Love the new Fusion and my only complaint is the incredibly high beltline. Looks like Grandpa Simpson tucking his shirt into his pants.

  • avatar

    I guess I am the only person on the planet who looked at this and wondered who beat the Fusion with an ugly stick…looks like a swollen Chrysler 200 to me, and the 200 is no looker either.

  • avatar

    I cannot wait for my Fusion Hybrid, it is weeks away!

    All these comments-

    -It sucks
    -Not a game changer
    -Not European enough
    -Copying Aston Martin

    It’s a phenomenal car, I am 20 years old, I cannot go out and buy a ‘European’ car, likewise for most of you.
    However I can afford this, It is an affordable car, looks good and no, it isn’t an Aston Martin, or Audi, but if I had the $100,000 spare I’d buy the real deal luxury cars but I don’t.

    So.. It is Fusion or Camry for me, and sorry lads but the Fusion is a babe.

  • avatar

    Ford Fusion Hybrid vs. Jetta Hybrid? Which would you choose?

  • avatar

    So, I’m not sure what is with the negativity from some posters on this, and I’d honestly like some feedback on this if there is a car you think would be better for me.

    I am 29 years old, and in the market for a new car. My wife and I plan on having a baby in the next couple years, so she has forbid me to buy another little sports car. I want something with room and five seats, but I want it to look good, I want it to have some decent tech on the inside, and I can’t afford much more than $30,000. Every other car in this range, except maybe the Sonata, honestly looks boring as ____. The Malibu has better interior tech, but again looks so very Meh on the outside. And the 47 MPG for the hybrid Fusion sounds pretty dang nice compared the 15 mpgs or so my current car gets me.

    So… what else is there? I’ve been searching pretty hard and the Fusion and the Sonata are the only glimmers of light I’ve seen in the whole lot, and I like the look of the Fusion better, and the Fusion Hybrid has much better fuel economy…

    • 0 avatar

      I think there is a ton available for under $30,000. You didn’t give us much to go on in terms of what you are looking for, but it’s hard to believe the Fusion and Sonata are the only cars you found worth considering.

      Definitely check out the new Mazda 6. I don’t think anyone has called it ugly and it should be great to drive for a mid-size sedan. Accord and Altima are worth considering as well.

      Slightly smaller but close enough to mid-size is the Jetta. GLI w/autobahn package fits under $30k with thousands to spare. Generic styling, but I haven’t heard anyone complain about how it drives.

      If you currently have a “little sports car,” a Focus ST might be a better compromise than a mid-size sedan. Even the ST1 trim has plenty of interior tech, and it would be more entertaining to drive than a Fusion.

      A Verano Turbo is right around the $30k mark. Again, smaller than a Fusion, but comfortable and quiet.

      Add CPO cars to the list and the possibilities are near endless.

      It sounds like you are leaning toward a Fusion and will probably be happy with that. Looks are subjective – if you like it, don’t worry about what commenters on a blog say. If you haven’t found any competition for under $30k though, I think you need to look harder.

      • 0 avatar

        I had checked out all of those except the Verano Turbo. Still my previous statement about their looks stands. They aren’t BAD looking cars, but they don’t have that style I crave.

        I do like the tech options in the Focus, though it isn’t quite big enough for my wife’s tastes.

    • 0 avatar

      A friend of mine has the hybrid and after 4500 miles, his lifetime mpg so far is just over 38mpg. I would normally assume it was because the driver has a heavy foot, but believe, this guy doesn’t. I always make fun of his grandpa style of driving. So if it’s mpg you’re looking for, you may want to consider something else. Not that 38 is bad, but for a car advertised as 47 combined, this is disappointing.

  • avatar

    I picked up a friend at the local Ford store and decided to look at the fusion with the most flags around it. I almost fainted when i saw the sticker for about 36K. It was a Titanium, a term i wasn’t familiar with other than the ultra expensive metal and I doubted this car had any in it, but, wow!

    The car didn’t fare well in the Car & Driver comparo.

  • avatar

    I have had my Fusion Hybrid since December. I’m spending $80 bucks a month on gas and avg consumption is 5.5L/100km and its getting better with the warmer weather.
    There isn’t a sexier or more powerful hybrid out there, I h d the 19″ 20 spoke rims, all tinted windows and tuxedo black. It turns heads everywhere I drive and there’s it’s drive is incredible. It’s my first hybrid, I recently drove my friends 2012 Camry hybrid and it was awful. Noisy and jolty.

    However… I’m just nit-picking here, I wasn’t told it would come with no spare tire. Just a heads up! It comes with an air-pump/ sealant.
    Beautiful car to drive an look at. (Given its not the basic model or the green color!)
    I loved my 2012 SEL but the $300 a month on gas compared to the now $80 was crazy!

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