Words: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography: Stephen Spyropoulos
Published: July 11, 2016
ESTÉREL, Québec – This is the new Ford Fusion, and it is set to arise like a phoenix from the ashes of its class in a very bold attempt at being the unequivocal example for car buyers interested in this very popular segment. The Fusion hasn’t had to come far however. It was named one of the best selling mid-size sedans in Canada last year.
Giving consumers the “Power of Choice” is the theme for this modernized Fusion, as it strives to fuse the best of efficiency, luxury and believe it or not, sportiness. There are a grand total of seven different trims to be had in the Fusion lineup and a plethora of powertrain options that’ll make your head spin. But in the light of this confusion, there will undoubtedly be a Fusion for everybody, and I mean everybody.
The decisions buyers face are endless: there are three different EcoBoost motors offered: a base 2.5-litre four cylinder, a 2.0-litre Atkinson cycle hybrid motor, and a plug-in hybrid trim dubbed the Fusion “Energi”. A V6 Sport version has been announced that pumps out a very hearty 325-hp and a sleeper-like 380 lb-ft. of torque but unfortunately we haven’t driven this model yet.
There is also the option of all-wheel drive, and don’t forget all of the available safety features that can be added on such as lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and an enhanced parallel and self-parking feature. Has Ford given us just too much power of choice?
For 2017, Ford has also taken appropriate measures to ensure that the new Fusion doesn’t just blend into traffic. You’ll have to look closely to spot the differences from the outgoing model, but a newly designed front grille (that still looks ripped out of the Aston Martin handbook of design) accompanied by LED headlights and accenting keeps it looking fresh and up to date. The same goes for the inside.
The first thing you will notice upon entry is the new Jaguar-like rotary gear shift dial. Though it looks complicated, it is actually quite intuitive to use. Twist it to select Drive, and twist it back to select Park, and vice versa. The metal dial feels very solid in the hands, and frees up a ton of valuable real estate in the center console area for cupholders and switches.
A word of note: for those of you worried about forgetting to rotate the dial back to Park before shutting the car off, don’t fret. The dial will automatically rotate itself into Park and ensure that your new Fusion does not roll away down a mountain road.
Push button start is now standard across the board on all trims, so feel free to keep the keyfob in your pocket, and stop-start technology is available on everything but the base model. Technology inside is also noteworthy and impressive. USB ports that are conveniently located below the center console entertainment unit, which is loaded up with Sync 3 and comes integrated with Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
This new and updated infotainment unit is easily the cleanest and most efficient infotainment units I’ve ever used, period. I don’t miss that old colour-schemed four-corner Sync 2 unit at all. A FordPass application is also available for download that will give you some updates on the fly, and give you to remote access to a few of the vehicle’s functions.
Ford has also paid extra close attention this year to the car’s NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) by making an ultra-quiet start-stop system that is so dead silent I couldn’t even tell when the system was active. They have also added in acoustic glass as well to further insulate the cabin, keeping me relaxed while I stretched the Fusion’s legs up the Laurentian mountain roads.
The first car I sampled was the 181-hp 1.5-litre SE model. It doesn’t exactly drive differently than previous models, but that’s not a bad thing. The engine is responsive and the car handles well thanks to its new rear control-link rear suspension. I would even go so far as to rate it a few ticks higher than the rivaling Honda Accord and Mazda 6 in the sporting department. The tiny 1.5-litre engine does its job well, yet despite a few hiccups running up the Laurentian hills, it is capable and able to keep pace.
I spent most of my time however behind of wheel of the Fusion Energi, the plug-in hybrid of the lineup. Adorned in the top trim Platinum featurette, it was probably the most luxurious PHEV I’ve driven in a while, if not ever. Soft leather adorns every seat, while drivers can feel the touch of Venetian leather wrapped around the steering wheel.
Able to go 35 km completely (3 km more than last year’s model) on electricity and up to speeds of 135 km/h, the Fusion Energi makes for a competent city cruiser. Though the range isn’t as impressive as say, a Tesla Model S, it is more than enough to cover my back to back daily commute to work. But for those suffering from range anxiety, you would be glad to hear that the Energi also comes equipped with a 2.0-litre gasoline motor also found in the Hybrid model that will kick in when requested or when all that electron juice runs out.
Although the starting price for the Fusion Energi Platinum makes it the most expensive Fusion you can purchase, the Government of Ontario will generously donate $7,730 towards the purchase of one, resulting in an as-tested price lower than that of a Platinum trimmed Fusion Hybrid. Pair in the fact that the Hybrid averages 5.7 L/100km compared to 2.4Le/100km (gasoline + electricity) average of the Energi means the latter is definitely the better way to go if you want to save the planet and a few bucks at the station. The only downside I could think of with the Energi is the compromised trunk space from the placement of the chunky lithium-ion batteries.
The 2017 Ford Fusion makes great strides to keep up its appeal and competitiveness in this hot-headed mid-size sedan market. Thankfully for the Fusion lineup, it is still doing quite well in terms of sales and with the addition of all the technology, the luxuries and now a sportier option, it seems as though nothing will stop this Ford freight train, and the driver assistance packages are there to keep the train on the rails. Rivals like the Chevrolet Malibu and Kia Optima are hot in its tail, but the Fusion offers just a little bit more customizability. The sheer array of choices may seem overwhelming at first, but Ford just wants to ensure that there is a Fusion that everyone can be happy with, and for that, I give it two thumbs up.