Redesigning your top selling car is always a risk. Ford rolled the dice in 1996 on the Best selling Taurus and blew it huge with the ovoid porpoise art project that ruined the car for over 10 years. In one fell swoop they killed the Golden Goose with a laughably styled car that the car cool would not been seen in. With the Fusion which made its debut in 2005, we’re glad to say they didn’t.
Now a true global car to be shared with the next generation Ford Mondeo, something auto enthusiasts have been clamoring about for years. At first glance you see the crisp new face of the Ford Evos concept car, flowing into a sophisticated and sporting sedan that looks new from the ground up.
While the current generation Ford Fusion has been based on the same platform as the Mazda 6 sedan, the new Ford Fusion is a clean sheet design fron the ground up. And while the styling isn’t a gamble like the 1996 Taurus, Ford’s powertrain strategy could be. The new Fusion will be the first sedan in its class to offer gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains, two EcoBoost powerplants and no V6 engine.
Fusion brings the broadest selection of fuel-efficient powertrains in the midsize car segment. It offers hybrid and plug-in hybrid alternatives, a pair of EcoBoost four-cylinder engines, a normally aspirated four-cylinder engine, an automatic start stop system to shut off the engine at stationary idle, front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive applications, and a choice between automatic and manually shifted six-speed transmissions.
The 1.6-liter EcoBoost is expected to deliver best-in-class four-cylinder non-hybrid fuel efficiency of 26 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine – paired with a paddle-shifted six-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission, available 19-inch wheels and tires and all-wheel drive with the ability to send additional torque to the rear – is the Fusion performance option.
The Fusion Hybrid continues to innovate and evolve with all-new lithium-ion batteries that save weight and generate more power than previous nickel-metal hydride batteries, while raising maximum speed under electric-only power from 47 mph to 62 mph.
Fusion Hybrid also features an all-new 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine, significantly downsized from the previous 2.5-liter unit while maintaining performance standards. This innovative powertrain is anticipated to deliver best-in-class fuel economy of 47 mpg in city driving and 44 mpg on the highway.
Topping the fuel-efficiency ladder is the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, aiming to be the most fuel-efficient midsize car in the world. Arriving this fall, Fusion Energi is anticipated to deliver more than 100 MPGe, a mile per gallon equivalency metric for electrified vehicles. This is 8 MPGe more than the Chevrolet Volt and 13 MPGe more than the projected efficiency of the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid model.
The next-generation Fusion 1.6-liter is the first automatic-transmission Ford product offered with an automatic start-stop system. It shuts off engine power smoothly when the car is stopped and seamlessly restarts as the driver releases the brake pedal, helping Fusion to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by approximately 3.5 percent.
Inside, the new Fusion offers a sporty, driver-oriented environment with next-generation seating that brings expanded functionality. A higher center console supports the driver-centric theme and yields clever storage for items a driver wants to keep handy.
Additional passenger space was designed-in by moving the instrument panel toward the windshield, contributing to the cabin’s airy, open environment. Thinner, lighter frames support comfortable next-generation seats trimmed with fabric using recycled sustainable yarns.
Interior surfaces are softer to the touch and interior and exterior gaps are minimized, while extra care has been taken to upholster or cover each edge and every surface a customer can touch. When the trunk lid is opened, for example, a spring-loaded cover automatically conceals the trunk latch hardware.
“This really is a driver’s car,” said John Jraiche, program manager. “Fusion is even more fun to drive with specially tuned electric power-assisted steering (EPAS), a MacPherson strut front suspension and an all-new premium-level multilink rear suspension – comparable to Audi and BMW configurations.”
Careful tuning by Ford’s vehicle handling and ride team has yielded a Fusion with a dynamic character that will please a well-seasoned enthusiast while increasing the confidence level of less-experienced drivers.
Fusion interior quiet reaches a new level with acoustic underbody shields and weight-saving sound-absorption material; both minimize road and powertrain noise while boosting aerodynamic efficiency to help save fuel. The all-new model adds content such as a full-perimeter hood seal to be among the midsize sedan segment leaders in giving drivers a quiet ride.
Fusion is designed with customer safety in mind. Engineers increased its body strength by 10 percent, using more high-strength steels such as boron, and added dual first-row knee airbags and adaptive front airbags that vent and tether to conform to a specific occupant’s size, position and seatbelt usage.
The Fusion safety team targeted top-of-the-line ratings in each public domain safety benchmark, including National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ratings, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick and top ratings in world markets where the car will be sold.
The most prominent example is Fusion’s front-end architecture, as the same car must face simultaneous – and seemingly conflictive – standards across regions. The car’s front end is equipped to meet head-on and offset barrier standards for North America while still conforming to European standards for pedestrian protection – thanks to hours of computer modeling and 180 validating crash tests.
Fusion will be produced at Ford’s Hermosillo, Mexico, manufacturing facility, soon adding production at AutoAlliance International Plant in Flat Rock, MI alongside the Mustang.