Capsule Review: 2014 Ford Fusion Energi

Winston Braithwaite
by Winston Braithwaite
capsule review 2014 ford fusion energi

Forget the Ford GT. Pay no attention to all the Shelby or Roush branded Mustangs. This car, the 2014 Ford Fusion Energi, is the true halo car for Ford. Homages to the 1960s are easy. People are willing to pay extra for an enormous engine, outrageous styling and instrumented-test bragging rights. On the other hand, a midsize sedan propelled by technology with more computing power than all the slide rules in the Apollo program and sold for a price that’s less expensive than a year of tuition at many colleges is extremely hard.

The 2014 Fusion Energi is their moonshot.

The second-generation Fusion was taken incredibly seriously by Ford, and it’s easy to tell. I think the success and critical acclaim of the first-generation Fusion surprised the company, and in developing the follow-up they wanted to grab the brass ring. All Fusions have a solid platform that’s got a bunch of high-strength steel in it. That makes it go down the road more solidly than any other midsizer. The competition feels limp by comparison.

Braithwaite homestead, so I lucked out weather-wise during the car’s stay. Otherwise, if you want to plug it in to charge during a rainstorm, you may be in for a zappy surprise. Without a garage, forget about the 220V charger.

The rigid structure was a big surprise to me. My experience with earlier Fusions had been largely positive – it’s always been a good car to drive – but you could see the seams, the areas of cost-savings. The second-gen Fusion is impressively well-crafted. Ford fussed over everything on this car and it shows. This is an American car that’s more finely burnished than the rest of the class, even the vaunted Honda Accord.

Yes, My Ford Touch is here, but, surprisingly, it didn’t get much in the way. Maybe I’m more used to it now, or maybe Ford’s upgrades have made it less hateful. It’s still complex, but I had more issues with the capacitive touch buttons on the center stack than I did with anything driven by the touchscreen. Not having buttons makes the designers happy, perhaps, but it makes drivers crazy. Buttons that are harder to button make drivers distracted and therefore dangerous. Everything else in the interior is very well put together to the point where it would feel at home competing with the Lexus ES. That’s hyperbole, but careful finishing and high-quality assembly are evident everywhere. I was very impressed with how few corners were cut. Ford clearly invested time and effort in designing this car, and they’re not skimping on it in the build stage, either.

Just the door seals are interesting to examine, and they show attention to detail that’s evident throughout. The leather seats are very comfortable, though like every car writer, I’ll ask for more lateral support. The things you touch are nicely finished with low-gloss plastics and soft-touch surfaces. Design, from the stitching pattern on the seats to the classy sweep of the dashboard and door panels, is premium in the interior of the Fusion. It feels luxurious.

The carefully-tuned ride and handling feel more like a premium car from Der Vaterland than actual German competitors. Bumps are managed by the suspension to become non-events, underscored by the quiet interior. On the other hand, the suspension isn’t overly mushy at the altar of a smooth ride. Damping is excellent, so the wheels are under superb control. Hit a corner, and even with hybrid tires the Fusion is precise enough to be satisfying to even an enthusiast.

The Fusion Energi I drove was an SE trim, and your other choice is the loaded-to-the-gills Titanium. The Fusion Energi SE starts at $34,700, and mine carried options to drive the price up to $39,500. It’s hard to fathom what else the Titanium trim carries, given that there were features on this SE press car that I never, ever used (I can park very well myself, for example.) That said, the extra five grand went for things like the Driver Assist Package, Reverse Sensing System, Active Park Assist, navigation, rear-view camera and Intelligent Access with push-button starting.

The way the Fusion stands out from the field is different depending on what car you’re comparing it to. A Camry feels aggressively built-to-a-price, the Accord suffers from horrible electronics for infotainment, The Sonata and Optima feel like they could use another round of final tuning and integration, and the Altima is off in its own little world where tinny-feeling cars with underwhelming dynamics are okay. Surprisingly, the Chevrolet Malibu, while not as engaging to drive, has been upgraded for 2014 to be the yin to the Fusion’s swaggering yang. When you’re not talking hybrids or plug-ins, the Fusion has the Mazda 6 to contend with. It’s a great-looking car that didn’t need to lift its styling cues from Aston Martin, and it’s more pleasing to drive without feeling flimsy. But we’re talking about the PHEV Fusion Energi, so there’s really no exact direct competitor.

The long and short of my time with the 2014 Ford Fusion Energi can be summed up thusly:

Costs modestly, looks expensive, feels expensive. The additional hybrid gear doesn’t mar the experience or alter it significantly. The trunk shrinks a little (and the seats don’t fold), so you some practicality. The fuel economy may not equal the confusing window sticker figures, but it’s one of the very few hybrids on the road that’s actually a delight to drive.

The 2014 Ford Fusion Energi is great because it’s a hybrid, not in spite of it. That’s crazy hard to pull off.

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2 of 106 comments
  • Revolver4711 Revolver4711 on May 25, 2015

    My daily commute (30MPH @ 1.9 Miles, 35 @ 4.8, 40 @ 1, 35 @ 1.2, 60 @ 2.8, 35@ 1.4, 50 @ 2.5,45 @ 2.4, 40 @ 0.7, 30 @ 1) = 19.7 Miles to work) x 2 = 39.4 miles round trip to and from work. From 4-11-15 until 5-12-15, I traveled 1173 miles this included trips during the weekend and week days that were over and above commuter miles. Last month I averaged 110.2 miles per gallon of gas. My HV Hwy only miles averaged 50.2 miles per gallon of gas. I owned a 2005 Honda Element that I loved but only got 22/MPG (now I get 5 times better gas mileage). I can’t say enough good things of my 2014 Energi. I bought it used with 15K on it on March 22, 2015 for $22,500. With the extended warranty of 8 years or 100K miles on the fuel cells and drive electric drive train. It was a no brainier. It is an excellent car to tool around in, one that my wife likes to drive, and best of all it’s a sedan. I think Ford needs to advertise this model more. The math proves it out, (for certain drivers). I wish more people would talk about the benefits of this car. When driven combined commuter and general purpose mileage, this car can go a long, long way on a tank of gas!

  • Dperreno Dperreno on Mar 16, 2016

    Very late to this party, I know, but I just wanted to point out that EVs and PHEVs can be charged outdoors year-round, even in a monsoon or thunderstorm. I have a level 2 EVSE mounted on the side of my (Michigan) house next to my driveway and I charge my Fusion Energi there every day - rain, snow, or shine.

  • StormEagle 400 miles range
  • Inside Looking Out Enforcing laws? It is so yesterday! Welcome to California!
  • Lou_BC You'd think cops would have an understanding of the laws they are supposed to enforce.
  • Merlyn I’m on my second Spark and love it! I can pass any car I’ve never had a problem going up a hill it does just fine. As for cargo I can fit three suitcases, two book bags and still have the front seat for a passenger. Not sure what point this guy is trying to make. I have hand free phone service and Sirius radio plug in my phone and have navigation. I would buy another spark in a heartbeat.
  • Buickman I won't own one and I'll be happy!