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On The Road

This hybrid lives up to the hype


courtesy of Ford
The Ford Fusion offers a comfortable ride and excellent handling.

While automobile manufacturers continue to titillate us with visions of an alternative-energy future at events like auto shows, they aren’t forgetting current customers.

Case in point: the Ford Fusion, new for 2013 and offered with standard internal combustion engine, gasoline-electric hybrid and plug-in hybrid. The 2014 models are out now.

We drove the in-between hybrid recently and were impressed.

The Fusion is a fully realized automobile with a pleasant, upscale interior, excellent handling, comfortable ride and attractive exterior. It sells for approximately $35,000.

The Fusion delivers more than 40 mpg in real-world press test-driving.

The window sticker actually claims 47 mpg city and highway, but there’s some debate over that and the rating might be a shade optimistic. Our number is right off the gauge of the San Francisco press pool car after it logged 600 miles with three drivers.

What we drove: Ford Fusion SE (the mid-range package), base price of $27,200, with the additional $2,250 luxury package including heated seats, navigation and rear screen for $1,695, and driver-assistance packages for $3,350, for total manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $35,010.

What we liked best: The 2-liter engine with electric motors delivers seamless acceleration, rated at 188 horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque, through the continuously variable automatic transmission. The shift from electric power to gasoline was nearly imperceptible.

The Fusion’s interior trim – unlike some of its competitors’ vehicles – looks like that of a near-luxury automobile rather than a piece of experimental bench-test equipment.

Optional safety packages – park assist, reverse sensing, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping and cross-traffic alert – are welcome options on this mid-priced car.

What didn’t impress us: We’re still not fans of touch-screen interfaces to control the audio, navigation and climate systems, but the latest generation of MyFordTouch is a considerable improvement over the previous versions. We would encourage the designers to peek at what’s being done by the German companies, however.

The Ford center stack doesn’t convey the same luxury impression as the trim surrounding it.

 

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