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2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid Titanium Review by Carey Russ +VIDEO


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Fusion Hybrid combines international lines, convenience and comfort, and good fuel economy

DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD WITH CAREY RUSS

            • SEE ALSO: Ford Research and Buyers Guide


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Typically for a car in the middle of its product cycle, Ford’s popular Fusion gets a styling freshening this year. It’s so subtle that you may not notice, but given this generation of Fusion’s good looks, that’s good. If you get the styling right the first time, and then change it for change’s sake, there’s only one way to go…

Other news for the Fusion line? A new Sport performance model, with Ford’s 2.7-liter, 325-horsepower Ecoboost V6 and all-wheel drive. Thermonuclear Fusion at last! And for the more staid models, both gasoline, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid Energi, there is a premium Platinum trim level above the previously-top Titanium.

Some of those aren’t quite available as I write this, so this week’s test car is a 2017 Fusion Hybrid Titanium. The Fusion Hybrid lineup is complete, with all trim levels: S, SE, Titanium, and Platinum. This is the Fusion for fuel economy, and a hybrid with no compromises. It’s smooth but nimble over the road, quiet and comfortable inside, with room for four easily and five in a pinch, quick enough to painlessly and safely deal with traffic, and easy on unleaded regular. Ford’s hybrid system is full series/parallel and as efficient as any, producing maximum 188 horsepower. The Fusion Hybrid is a regular car, not a lifestyle statement, and about the only drawback versus a non-hybrid equivalent is the loss of some trunk space to the hybrid battery pack. If the 38 mpg I got for my week wasn’t quite up to the advertised EPA 43 mpg city, 41 highway, it’s close enough — and since I made more than a few short local trips, when the engine didn’t get fully warmed-up, and what highway miles I had were not on level ground or at EPA-simulation speeds, no surprise. A gas-only equivalent would have been hard-pressed to best 20 to 25mpg in the same conditions. EcoSelect mode decreases throttle response and interior heating and cooling, and increases regenerative braking. I used it sparingly; more use could improve fuel economy a bit.

Really, the only difference between a Fusion Hybrid and its gasoline-only equivalent is that the Hybrid is a bit slower in acceleration above city traffic speeds (but still quick enough) and goes much further on a gallon of gasoline. What’s not to like about that?

APPEARANCE: In front, the 2017 Fusion’s grille has been reshaped ever so slightly, and is a bit wider. The lower bumper fascia has also been restyled, but minimally. Headlights on upper trim levels, including Titanium, are LED. At the rear, all models get new taillights, now LED. Their shape is similar to before, but not identical. The Fusion proves that international elegance can work for a middle-class American sedan -- and if you doubt that, take a look at the Ford Mondeo sold in Europe. Same, and same restyle. Obvious differences between the Hybrid and other Fusions? Other than badging, none. The Hybrid does have a near-complete undertray, all the better for reduced aerodynamic drag.




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COMFORT: The major interior change to all 2017 Fusions is a rotary shifter on the console. Yes, it’s gimmicky, but it takes up less console space than the previous lever, allowing a redesigned console with more storage space. And you won’t be shifting the Hybrid once it’s in D, as its computer-controlled CVT seamlessly blends gasoline and electric power. Titanium means leather-trimmed seats, power adjustment and cushion heat in front, with driver’s memory, sporty aluminum pedals, ambient lighting, auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, and multiple 12VDC and USB charging points plus a 110VAC 150W inverter port. Puddle lamps at the bottoms of the outside mirrors help access at night. Keyless entry, with touch un/locking, pushbutton start/stop, and remote starting are standard here. SYNC Connect with FordPass is available and allows use of a smartphone to locate the vehicle, lock or unlock doors, and start it remotely.

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The Fusion’s interior design is contemporary international, unsurprisingly. It’s more conservative than the smaller Fords, and features soft-touch materials with a proper amount of contrasting bright trim. The Fusion’s SmartGauge electronic instrument panel is bright and easily visible, with multiple information configurations. The manually tilt- and reach-adjustable leather-rimmed steering wheel has audio, cruise, phone, and information system controls. Interior storage is plentiful and useful, with a locking glovebox, door pockets with water bottle holders in all doors, multiple open spaces on the console, and a two-layer console box. The rear contoured bench has very good accommodations outboard, with a higher center and moderate central tunnel making the center position more of a short-time spot — as in nearly all sedans. Unusually for a hybrid, the seatback folds 60/40 for awkward cargo, although the hybrid battery reduces the passthrough size and trunk space. A sealant and inflation kit under the trunk floor replaces a spare tire.

SAFETY: The 2017 Fusion Hybrid has a full complement of airbags and a unibody structure designed and built to protect passengers. Good road manners and fine antilock four-wheel disc brakes with the AdvanceTrac stability enhancement system (plus regenerative braking in the Hybrid) help drivers to avoid accidents. Available technology including radar-based blind-spot and rear cross traffic monitoring, a lane-departure warning system, and adaptive cruise control are available, as is Active Park Assist, which automatically drives the car into parallel and some perpendicular parking spots. All of these systems were on my test car.

RIDE AND HANDLING: The Hybrid uses the same fully-independent MacPherson strut / multilink suspension as other Fusion models. It's tuned softly, but with good damping, and so is comfortable if not sporty. That's not its mission in life, so no problem. The four-wheel antilock disc brakes work well, and here are supplemented by regenerative braking. Active noise control reduces interior engine noise.

PERFORMANCE: Ford's hybrid system is a full series-parallel one, blending power from a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine with 141 horsepower (at 6000 rpm) and 129 lb-ft of torque (at 4000 rpm) and a 118-hp permanent-magnet synchronous AC traction motor via a computer-managed continuously-variable transmission (CVT). Maximum combined horsepower is 188; since an electric motor makes its maximum torque as soon as it begins to rotate, the motor's 177 lb-ft makes itself felt when it's needed, although the control software keeps things smooth, with no sudden surprises. Throttle response is more linear than in some other and older hybrids, and it's very hard to tell what combination of power is moving the car at any given time without glancing at the power display. It can run under electric-only power at speeds of up to 85 mph, although that will be cruising with very light throttle input. My 38-mpg average for the week was with a mix of city and highway driving, including some steep highway grades. There were more short local trips than highway miles, and that’s where a hybrid shines. A gas-only car may get 15 to 20 mpg at best there, depending on how warmed up the engine gets. The Hybrid’s 25 to 40 mpg in the same circumstances is a significant improvement — with little performance penalty.

CONCLUSIONS: Ford's Fusion Hybrid combines international lines, convenience and comfort, and good fuel economy.




SPECIFICATIONS

2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid Titanium

Base Price $ 31,010

Price As Tested $ 35,155

Engine Type DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder Atkinson cycle

Engine Size 2.0 liters / 122 cu. in.

Horsepower 141 @ 6000 rpm

Torque (lb-ft) 129 @ 4000 rpm

Electric Motor Permanent-magnet AC synchronous

Horsepower 118 @ 6000

Torque 177 lb-ft

Maximum Combined Horsepower 188 hp

Transmission CVT

Traction motor battery Li-Ion

Wheelbase / Length 112.2 in. / 191.8 in.

Curb Weight 3668 lbs.

Pounds Per Horsepower 19.5

Fuel Capacity 13.5 gal.

Fuel Requirement 87 octane unleaded regular gasoline

Tires P235/45 R18 94V m+s Michelin Energy Saver A/S

Brakes, front/rear vented disc / solid disc, plus regenerative braking ABS, ESC standard

Suspension, front/rear independent MacPherson strut / independent multilink

Drivetrain transverse front engine and motor,front-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE

EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon city / highway / observed 43 / 41 / 38

0 to 60 mph est 9 sec

OPTIONS AND CHARGES

Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go plus Sync Connect $ 1,190

Driver Assist Package — includes: Lane Keeping System, BLIS with Cross Traffic Alert $ 1,575

Sync and Sound Discount -($ 490)

Destination and Delivery $ 875