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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid Review


2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid (select to view enlarged photo)
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

An Exciting and Affordable Hybrid Drive Finally Exists


PHOTO

HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE FUSION HYBRID VEHICLE
Any search done on Ford’s all-new hybrid sedan has probably netted you endless kudos from auto critics. What makes the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid so darn ground breaking is that an exciting –and affordable – hybrid drive finally exists. I drove a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, all of which come with the upscale standards found on the non-hybrid SEL trim such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel, entry keypad and Ford's SOS Post-Crash Alert System. Entry-level price is $27,270. Tack on several hot options, such as the Driver's Vision and the Moon & Tune packages, and the price touches $30,780. The Fusion Hybrid comes with a new 156-horsepower Duratec 2.5-liter DOCH 4-cylinder engine with 136 lb-ft of torque at 2,250 rpm running on the 16-valve Atkinson cycle and paired to a 191-horsepower electric motor. The Fusion Hybrid can operate up to 47-mph in pure electric mode (with AC still working, unlike some competitors) and gets 41-city and 36-highway driving.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The Fusion Hybrid looks and feels almost like a muscle car. It offers a very refined cabin experience with optional heated leather seating combined with a high-quality center console cluster. That cluster presents every command imaginable into the form of a button. Climate control might be more preferred than buttons, however. Ford's optional SYNC system integrates not just phone but audio commands with voice-recognition software so you can talk to your iPod. Usability factor is high and technical help is available on-line for free.

Reliability & Safety Factor: Ford provides a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty for the Fusion Hybrid.  A separate warranty covering hybrid components lasts 8-years/100,000 miles. Rear Park Assist is standard on the Hybrid. A couple of Ford-created optional safety features include SYNC with 911 Assist and the BLIS with a Rearview Camera. The Fusion Hybrid's Driver's Vision package includes a very practical Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Support. Like Mazda's system, you get fair warning of approaching cars through an illuminated image in your side mirrors, accompanied with an audio alert.

Cost Issues: With a base price of $27,270, tack on a couple optional packages and your Fusion Hybrid vehicle can hit $32,485. That’s in about the same range other hybrid sedans, yet your passengers will feel far more comfortable with the space the Fusion offers.

Activity & Performance Ability: The Fusion Hybrid displays balanced steering characteristic, much acceleration gusto and stable brakes. The vehicle works with the bends and stops of any road in a stiff-free manner. The exterior simply isn't a disguise pulled over a Camry-like car. The drive is engaging and crafted to snap up compliments – enough to be have a 91% buy-again factor, according to Consumer Reports. It is named a Car and Driver "Top 10 Best for 2010” and was awarded the North American Car of the Year.

The Green Concern: The Fusion Hybrid gets an average of over 38-mpg driving, making it better than a clean-burning diesel. Helping drivers stretch gas numbers is the SmartGauge instrument cluster, featuring two color LCD screens next to a traditional speedometer. The driver can select among four fuel-saving modes (Inform, Enlighten, Engage and Empower) and see pretty leaves light up when you're doing a good job at driving green. However, it takes a very competitive spirit and strict driving circumstances to attempt 47-mph under a battery that is at least half-charged.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The Ford Fusion Hybrid stands apart from the sedan hybrids like the Lexus HS 250 or Nissan Altima Hybrid because the price, performance and space offers an award-winning combination. The Fusion Hybrid is evidence Ford is dedicated to offering what consumers want: green, tech-out rides with critic approval.

©2010 Katrina Ramser