By on December 2, 2019

When Ford lined its domestic passenger car offerings against a brick wall, gangster-style, and unleashed its 50-round drum, one nameplate was singled out for potential preservation: Fusion. Actually, another name was supposed to live on in the form of the overseas Focus Active, but the Blue Oval kiboshed that model’s boat trip.

Acrimony over the Focus, Fiesta, and Taurus’ North American death ran high, perhaps more so than that of the doomed Fusion sedan, but the latter model’s name seemed to hold a special purpose. Recall back in the summer of 2018, when sources told Bloomberg that Ford intended to develop some sort of Subaru Outback fighter under the Fusion name. Spokesman Mike Levine backed up, to some degree, the name-preservation side of the story.

Real, physical proof of that program may now exist.

How else to explain recent spy photos of a stretched, high-riding Focus Euro-wagon mule on the streets of Michigan?

Sporting bizarre hindquarters , plenty of black tape, and a modest boost in ride height, the modified Focus is clearly hiding something beneath its conspicuous clothing. A stretched Focus platform? A tweaked version of the existing Fusion platform? Ford won’t say.

What is clear is that not every Ford passenger car owner plans to gravitate to a crossover or SUV at trade-in time. CEO Jim Hackett did say, not long after the passenger car massacre, “We don’t want anyone to think we’re leaving anything.”

“We want to give them what they’re telling us they really want,” Hackett said during that May 2018 shareholders meeting. “We’re simply reinventing the American car.”

The test mule spotted in Dearborn is the best evidence yet that the closest thing to a new car Ford has up its sleeve is a high-riding wagon/crossover-type vehicle, potentially carrying the Fusion name. Hell, given what Ford chose to do with its Mustang nameplate, you can be sure there’s no qualms in the Glass House about resurrecting the name of a well-known midsize sedan for something somewhat different.

As for the Fusion we all know today, that model’s lifespan is expected to run out in 2021. Interesting timing, as anyone’s best guess for a new Fusion product reveal, given the appearance of a test mule, is later that same year.

[Image: Ford]

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73 Comments on “Strange Animal Prowling the Streets of Michigan Points to Future Ford Fusion...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    The Fusion is dead, long live the Fusion

    … or something like that

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, etc. are thankful for Ford and GM exiting passenger car market.

    Ford has decreased in total market share, they darn well better be achieving increased margin.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “What is clear is that not every Ford passenger car owner plans to gravitate to a crossover or SUV at trade-in time.”

      But the number of future Ford passenger car buyers may not justify continuing a line of sedans that so few people buy.

      Then again, what doesn’t sell can always go to the rental fleet market, or to auction.

      Ford should focus on what it does best, “Build tough trucks!” The sedan market has run its course for at least the next ten years, so let Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, etc. build them instead.”

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        We just rented a 2018 Fusion Hybrid for two weeks since we will be losing one car in the fleet to college. I wanted to like it since it is a fairly handsome car the the interior looks nice. That said, the trunk has half the usable space of our Avenger and only averaged 36.4mpg during our trip. For reference, we averaged 31mpg with the non hybrid Pacifica we rented a few months ago for a road trip. That might all be forgiven if it were a nice place to be but neither my wife or I could get comfortable in the front seats. They are too short and you either rest on the very rear of your butt and feet on the floor, or raise the front of the seat up and cut off the circulation in your legs as the seats end 2/3 of the way down your thigh. I am 5’11” so not real tall. It did ride and drive nice and felt solid and the electric/CVT integration was mostly seamless.

        The last Subaru I drove was a 2016 Imprezza but it was far, far more comfortable. I didn’t like the drivetrain at all, but the seats were nice.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Yeah, I remember the Fusion Hybrid rental we had some time ago.

          After 4 hrs in the saddle my left leg was numb, and my wife, who is 5’9″ could not get comfortable in either the passenger nor the driver seat.

          I’m six feet tall in stocking feet, weigh upwards of 247 pounds and kept bumping my head against the door sill getting in and out of that car. The first time hurt.

          But for $187 for a whole week, 7 whole days with unlimited miles, I can put up with a little discomfort. And we packed on the miles, Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Sedona, Cotonwood, Camp Verde, Phoenix, and on and on.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      “Ford has decreased in total market share, they darn well better be achieving increased margin.”

      I believe we saw a letter to shareholders a while back, stating exactly that. Less focus on market share and more focus on profit.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    Seeing an oddball car cruising around Dearborn doesn’t mean a thing. A year ago, I saw what could only have been a Mustang 4 door sedan driving past the Ford Engineering campus on Oakwood. And what has come of that? Then there was the European Mk 2 Focus I saw in Belleville around 2010, and the Chinese market Jeep Grand Commander seen near the FCA HQ on Featherstone Rd.

    My hunch is a jacked up Fusion would sell about as well in the US as a Buick Tour-X, not an Outback. Subaru sold 178K Outbacks last year. Ford sold 272K Escapes and 227K Explorers. Why would Ford spend the money on a niche model that will do nothing but take a few sales away from the Escape and Explorer, and little else, because it wouldn’t be wearing the golden “Outback” name?

    Meanwhile, the old Fusion appears to be dead as of October. Mexican media reported zero production at Hermosillo as the plant is being retooled for the Transit Connect.

    • 0 avatar

      “A year ago, I saw what could only have been a Mustang 4 door sedan driving past the Ford Engineering campus on Oakwood.”

      So rumors about Ford developing Mustang sedan are correct? If Porsche sells one Mustang also can. Of course for premium price.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Fusion Sport is the only Fusion I’ll miss.

  • avatar
    Rocket

    While I personally like the idea of an Outback competitor in Ford showrooms, I can’t help but think it will be a failure in the marketplace. The Regal TourX’s biggest issue is an inflated MSRP, yet even with deep discounts it isn’t able to make a dent in Subaru sales. So what will Ford do that Buick did not? A hybrid would help, as would an ST trim, but I still don’t see it posing any kind of serious threat to the Outback.

    • 0 avatar
      bts

      Totally different between a Ford and Buick.

      The Buick nameplate probably keeps a big amount of people away. And the Buick model wasn’t pushed hard.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        An Outback is marketed as an SUV, not a wagon.

        That more than anything is the explanation for its success. Wagon = poison. Ford would be wise to do the same.

        • 0 avatar
          bts

          Jack, yes the Buick wagon has the same ground clearance as a regular sedan like the Fusion.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            TourX ground clearance is a shade under 6 inches.

            Outback is 8 inches.

            However the reason I wanted a TourX is because it was really a wagon. Lower center of gravity is what I was seeking. All those years in a Highlander I wanted to slit my throat if I had to spend another 5 or 6 years in a vehicle on stilts.

        • 0 avatar

          The Regal X is too expensive, not fast, too thirsty, isn’t a luxury product, isn’t marketed, and isn’t built well. It’s not a good product, so it’s no wonder customers stay away.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            No True Scotsman?

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @JimZ

            Sounds like it to me.

            @Corey

            0-60 in 6.4 sec, quarter mile in less than 15 sec? Not fast?

            Faster than many two row CUVs it competes with. How fast is a n/a Outback with CVT?

          • 0 avatar

            Good question, I’ll grant it’s fast enough!

          • 0 avatar
            Rocket

            So Corey, you’re suggesting the Outback is fast? Or is uber-efficient?

            For the record, only the TourX’s MSRP is inflated. The many TourX’s collecting dust can be found with huge piles of cash on the hood.

            As for the Fusion, the whole point is to make profit where the Fusion could not. Just how cheap do you think it will be and still generate the kind of returns Hackett is expecting?

          • 0 avatar

            The Outback is larger and more efficient, yes. It’s not fast.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “How fast is a n/a Outback with CVT?”

            Lol. Naturally-aspirated CVT Subarus are where acceleration and enjoyment go to die.

          • 0 avatar

            Who does not build Regal X well? Germans?

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            Corey Lewis

            The TourX is a premium midsized car that starts at $30K. If that’s too expensive, you should stick to the used car lots.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Who does not build Regal X well? Germans?”

            just seems like a lot of contortions to blame its failure on everything *except* being a wagon.

            the wagon renaissance has been Real Soon Now for like what, 20 years?

          • 0 avatar

            That down-market interior (especially on the $30k base version) is not premium.

            In other markets as an Opel, it’s not a premium vehicle, it’s at Malibu level.

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            How is a wagon body with slightly more space than the Outback with std AWD, std 250 HP and perfectly fine build quality overpriced at 30K and not too fast with a 0-60 time of 6.4 seconds? The only overpriced X is the top Essence trim with every option at around 45k but as everybody knows 7-9K off that price should be very easy making this car a good buy!

        • 0 avatar
          Rocket

          Although the word “wagon” appears in some descriptions, Buick classifies the TourX as a crossover.

        • 0 avatar
          scott25

          The Outback is solely popular BECAUSE it’s a wagon. Why else would someone choose it vs the Forester, Ascent or something from another brand? It services a niche with few other options, especially not from another Japanese brand which is what really matters. The Outback and the Crosstrek are the anti-crossovers, and that’s why they sell. They are clearly a lifted wagon and a lifted hatchback, so they’re bought by people who don’t want to be seen in another generic blob CUV. And Subaru has the Forester for the conformists.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @scott25 – now if Subaru would just sell me an Outback Onyx XT (turbo) with the ride height of the Legacy sedan, we’d have something there.

          • 0 avatar

            Ford is living in a fools paradise if they think they can compete with Subaru. Subaru’s quality is vastly superior.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            scott, the outback sells because it’s a Subaru and despite it being a lifted wagon. Subaru has picked up the market position previously occupied by Volvo…. high value, awd, students, professors, docs, etc. It’s a good position to be no matter what you’re hocking.

            Most buyers don’t know what a CVT is until theirs breaks.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        because it was an Opel rebadge like the Catera

        • 0 avatar

          Who in US really care if it is Opel or not? Americans have no idea what Opel is. For me it matters because I know what Opel is and did not like Opel in the same way I avoided anything Nissan or Hyundai/Kia. For me it is an advantage that it is called Buick and not Opel.

        • 0 avatar
          Daniel J

          @PrincipalDan

          What they really need is the legacy wagon, like they used to have. I would be driving a tourX if it weren’t for stubborn dealerships and that it didn’t have a few things my Mazda 6 has.

          I find it interesting that there are those who emphatically say an Outback is a wagon and others (like me ) who emphatically say its an CUV and not a proper wagon.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    Not only has the Tour-X failed, VW has dropped all it’s Golf wagons in the US, including the Alltrack Outback wannabe.

    Hackett is either lying or delusional.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I was soooo surprised when brown Cadillac CTS-V wagons with manual transmissions didn’t sell in big numbers!

  • avatar
    Fred

    Not that it matters but the Subaru and Ford dealer occupy the same building in my town. There are a lot of Subaru’s in this Sierra foothill town, considering it’s not obvious from the street that there is a deal there.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    This is a segment that Subaru seems to have a grip on. It may have been possible for the Focus Active to gain some traction at the low end of the range, but taking on the Outback (and Volvo XC70) likely goes nowhere on the NE and NW coasts or Denver.

  • avatar
    bts

    Looks like a great model to carry on the Fusion name.

    This is size the Freestyle / Taurus X should have been instead of Ford having 3 models all similar size and features (Freestyle/Taurus X, Flex, Explorer). Only problem is this should have been released alongside the Fusion back in 2006 before the Outback got more mainstream and refined.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I think that a Fusion shooting brake would sell in the hundreds.

    In reality, I might be one of those interested in owning one.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I highly doubt that the TourX will still exist in 6 years when I’m back in the market.

      If there is a Fusion Active in 2025 with a decent powertrain selection, AWD system that isn’t just “slip-n-grip” – I’d be very interested.

      I am also an outlier but I feel like the kind of enthusiast that GM is actively working to get rid of as a customer.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        “…I feel like the kind of enthusiast that GM is actively working to get rid of as a customer.”

        How much harder do they have to work at this? (In other words, how did they not succeed the last go-around?)

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          @ToolGuy, they still had sedans and wagons under $40K.

          No TourX? I would have spent more time looking at the Lacrosse or Impala or a CPO XTS. Or perhaps a Malibu Premiere 2.0T – plenty of those gathering dust with fetching options and colors.

          Now GM is actively killing everything that isn’t a truck, crossover, or SUV, jacking up MSRPs, and desperate to bring 3cyl turbo crossovers to market.

          If the only non SUV/CUV/Truck in the GM stable is the Corvette come about 2025, I won’t even need to visit their websites let alone darken the doorstep of a dealer.

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            My thoughts exactly. The crazy lady currently running GM into the ground is sure doing a great job yeah!

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I like it, but I’m weird.

    Here’s the other thing I would say to everyone bringing up the TourX.

    Has anybody here ever gotten the impression that GM actually WANTS to sell the Regal Sportback/TourX/GS? I sure haven’t.

    The forums are littered with stories of people visiting dealers and having to prove to the sales staff that the dang thing exists, and in some cases that the said dealer has some in inventory!

    I think we could at least count on Ford to try to market the sucker.

    • 0 avatar
      eggsalad

      Now that GM no longer owns the manufacturer of the TourX (Opel) I suspect the profit margin is even lower. The TourX can’t possibly be long for this world.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      I had salesman that wanted me to leave with a GMC suv. Then, seeing that the TourX was on the lot for almost 3 months, wouldn’t budge on the price.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Once on the lot, it’s not GM’s problem anymore. It’s the dealer eating it.

      And I agree with you…. GM wants to sell the TourX as much as they wanted to sell the Chevy SS.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I suspect though the Chevy SS sold every unit without much discount. This… eh…

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          There was a promotion in 2016 where leftover 2015 SSes were being sold at 20% off. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a bigger factory discount on anything that’s not a pickup truck.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Wow.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Buick regularly slaps 16% promotions on the whole lineup.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Dan

            Outside of the trucks, generally it seems RenCen doesn’t put huge discounts on its products that are actually worth buying.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Prediction the Encore GX (3 cyl CVT) debuts with 16% MSRP on the hood.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m not so sure, did the original Encore debut with cash on the hood?

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            The 20% on SSes happened at least twice and maybe more often. Once in 2016 (and it was not just 2015 models but 16s as well), and once in 2017 when they were cleaning up leftovers. In both cases the country was swept clean of manual transmission examples within days.

            IIRC you could get a Cruze or some other GM cars I wasn’t interested in for 20% off at that time as well.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I get it….but can the crossover/SUV fad start fading soon?

    I’m getting sick of Crossover-All-The-Things

  • avatar
    EX35

    I recall back in ‘13 TTAC posted some ridiculous article declaring the Fusion the “game changer!” Lol, that didn’t age well.

    • 0 avatar
      bts

      Considering that the Fusion was a new sedan and went from zero sales to midpack, I’d say it was a good showing.

      I remember the 2010 Fusion beating the other sedans like Camry and Accord in power and fuel economy and the hybrid was better than the Camry Hybrid, but it didn’t get that many more sales numbers.

  • avatar
    kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjInaupj5jmAhVuFjQIHSxdBf0QjRx6BAgBEAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fpaultan.org%2F2018%2F09%2F05%2Fford-to-cut-24000-jobs-axe-production-of-the-mondeo-and-close-dealerships-to-revive-european-business%2F&psig=AOvVaw0fA-Kj8Q7jdng_JacnY4zS&ust=1575415773057736

    It is a Mondeo … and it is FUGLY … this will NOT sell more than either now ‘dead end’ not-quite SUV passenger vehicles

  • avatar
    conundrum

    The Outback beat the goat. And all the Mr Canoeheads cheered! They know those retractable roof rack rails are standard, baby.

    A Fusion AWD very-slightly lifted wagon ain’t gonna beat the goat. Just read Professor Moonbeam Jimmy Hackett’s interview with Automotive News today. Whoa! The man is on a trip down deNial with Contribution Margin at the helm. Whoooo-eeee! Yessir. Mach-E to the rescue, glub, glub, gurgle. Farley?! The damn thing sank!

  • avatar

    It looks as if Ford culling its passenger carline has already cost them market share. I think in the long term it will cost them about 1.5% market share decline, which will put them dangerously close to falling behind Toyota in US market share. Doesn’t Ford realize there is a relationship between sales and being profitable.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Not all sales are the same. (Some vehicle lines are more profitable than others.)

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Ford really screwed the pooch with the Focus/Fiesta transaxles so between those and the Fusion the real question is was it even a profitable venture after incentive spending?

      I’m sure they also think Mock-E will help them regain the lost market share… we’ll see :)

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