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Ford Undercuts Rivals, Prices 2006 Fusion at $17,995

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- The 2006 Ford Fusion to start at $17,995 for a nicely-equipped 'S' series model; top-of-the-line 'SEL' series with I-4 and 5-speed automatic transmission to cost less than $20,500. - V-6 models with a class-leading 6-speed automatic transmission to start at $21,275; top-of-the-line 'SEL' series with V-6 to be priced under $22,400.

DEARBORN, Mich., June 23 -- Ford today announced that the all-new 2006 Fusion mid-size sedan -- the latest salvo in the company's plan to recapture car market share -- will undercut the competition with a starting price of $17,995. Fusion models equipped with a V-6 and class-leading 6-speed automatic transmission begin at $21,275. All prices include destination and delivery charges.

Since February, more than 115,000 consumers have visited to build and price virtual examples of the new Fusion using directional package and price information. Ford has used this extensive data to fine-tune the mix of Fusion models that will appear at launch as well as confirm consumer acceptance of Fusion's pricing strategy.

"With Fusion we are re-entering the mid-size segment with a distinctive- looking car that offers a great package, lots of standard features, state-of- the-art technology and a lower price than even the Koreans," says Darryl Hazel, Ford Division president.

"We think Fusion will make a compelling purchase proposition for customers in the market for a mid-size car."

Since the launch of the new Ford Mustang, Ford Five Hundred and the freshened Ford Focus last fall, Ford has posted gains in retail car market share. The company expects to continue those gains with Fusion in the critical mid-size sedan segment.

"The war of attrition is over," Hazel added. "We are going to continue building our car market share by entering new segments with vehicles like Fusion."

Fusion Models Emphasize Affordability

From the affordable I-4 'S' model to a top-of-the-line V-6 'SEL', Fusion provides extensive consumer choice in the mid-size segment. The most affordable Ford Fusion is the I-4 equipped 'S' model, which has a base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $17,995.

Major standard equipment includes:

* 2.3-liter Duratec 23 I-4, producing 160 horsepower and mated to a smooth-shifting 5-speed manual transmission

* Signature 3-bar chrome grille with integrated "Ford" oval

* Four wheel power assisted disc brakes and 16-inch wheels with all- season Continental "ContiProContact" tires

* AM/FM stereo with single CD/MP3 player with four speakers

* Power door locks with remote keyless entry and power windows with driver's door one-touch down function

  *  Five-passenger seating with rear 60/40 spring-assisted fold-down seats
  *  Air conditioning, speed control and tilt and telescoping steering wheel

* Enhanced side impact intrusion protection system and Ford's exclusive Personal Safety System(TM) featuring occupant classification for first-row passengers

A top-of-the-line Fusion SEL adds fog lamps, 17-inch aluminum wheels on Michelin "Pilot HIX MXM4" tires, automatic temperature control, premium six- CD/MP3 6-speaker stereo, upgraded wood or piano black interior trim and a leather wrapped steering wheel with redundant audio and climate controls. With the optional 5-speed automatic transmission, it will be priced under $20,500.

Customers wishing for more power can upgrade to the optional 221- horsepower, 3.0-liter Duratec 30 V-6 and class-leading 6-speed automatic transmission starting at $21,275 for the Fusion SE model.

Fusion Options Allow Individuality

Fusion's three trim levels, two powertrain choices, three wheel and tire packages and four distinct audio systems -- including a host of other available features and options -- allow for owners to customize the vehicle to their personal tastes. In particular, Ford made sure that customers could specify both the I-4 and V-6 versions of the car with the same slate of available options -- realizing that engine choice should not dictate how richly optioned a car can be.

Available options on the 'S' model of Fusion include a 5-speed automatic transmission, Safety and Security package (incorporating seat-mounted side air bags, first- and second-row side air curtains and an anti-theft perimeter alarm) and four-wheel anti-lock brakes.

Fusion SE models add the availability of 16-inch machined aluminum wheels, premium 6-speaker six-CD/MP3 stereo or an upgraded Audiophile, 8-speaker six- CD/MP3 stereo, leather seating surfaces with contrasting stitching and a power moonroof. Traction assist is also available on V-6 versions of the Fusion SE.

Those opting for the top-of-the-line Fusion SEL have the additional choice of heated leather seating surfaces and a Premium Package (incorporating heated outside mirrors with puddle lamps, automatic dimming rear view mirror, compass and automatic headlamps.)

Mid-Size Competitive Comparison

The new 2006 Ford Fusion will be one of the most competitively priced cars in the mid-size sedan segment, both in I-4 and V-6 versions. A comparison of Fusion's mid-size sedan competitors shows:

                               I-4 Manual        V-6 Automatic
   2006 Ford Fusion             $17,995            $21,275
   2006 Hyundai Sonata          $18,495            $21,495
   2005 Honda Accord            $18,510            $24,465
   2005 Chevrolet Malibu        $19,825            $21,890
   2005 Toyota Camry            $19,735            $23,070
   2005 Nissan Altima           $19,880            $23,880

"We're going to launch Fusion and never let up," says Hazel. "Hybrid and all-wheel drive models are waiting in the wings to complete a mid-size lineup unlike that of any other competitor."