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Ford Takes the Wraps Off New 2013 Fusion Sedan at 2012 Detroit Auto Show +VIDEO

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
New Ford Fusion


By Marty Bernstein
Senior Editor at Large

Official unveiling this morning at 8AM EST

It was like a private screening of a new Hollywood movie. Ford had invited a horde of auto journalists from around the country to a suburban hotel in Dearborn, Michigan for a sneak peak of the newest version their best selling sedan, the Fusion. To view the new model everyone had to sign a form which confirmed we’d not write about it till a specific time and date. In journalist-speak it’s called an embargo. And that embargo has just ended.

We were seated in a ballroom converted into a theater in-the-round; following a few perfunctory remarks and with little or no fanfare, hype, laser lights or other hoopla the backdrop opened and the new car appeared then slowly drove forward to a turntable that began revolving slowly as spotlights glinted from it’s sculptured surface.

Gasp! That’s right, gasp. From a bunch of seasoned, often jaded, tough to impress auto writers there was a moment of silence then an audible gasp followed by applause. Ford has an absolutely gorgeous new sedan. It has the potential to be a very big winner in the toughest and most competitive category of cars sold in America – the mid size sedan.

Following the big show the horde was divided into three groups and ushered to a smaller rooms where a series of presentations detailing the attributes, details and raison d’etre of the new sedan based on technology, environment and design.

Here’s what I saw and the key points I took away from the sneak peak glance of the new Fusion.

They had me at hello, cause I’m a sucker for a pretty face. This is the new face of Ford, okay it’s just a grill, but it sets the style theme of the Fusion – it looks exclusive as it should given the homage it pays to the grill of the once-Ford owned Aston Martin. Fusion’s functional design elements such as headlamps, LED tail lamps and polished exhaust tips communicate enhanced technological capability add to the appeal. The new Fusion will be available in S, SE and range-topping Titanium models.

Fuel & Environmental
Choices, choices and still more choices for those environmentally and economically concerned. The new Ford Fusion is the first sedan to offer gasoline – including a pair of EcoBoost™ four-cylinder engines, hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains, each with expected top fuel economy. Ford has a serious commitment to be the fuel-efficiency leader – or among the leaders – with each new model brought to market.

Additionally, the new sedan has an automatic start-stop system to shut off the engine at stationary idle, front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive applications, and a choice between automatic and manually shifted six-speed transmissions.

There’s technology and then there’s Ford human interface technology that even luddites can understand, comprehend and use. Ford calls it the power of voice. The all-new Fusion offers the latest iteration of Ford’s award-winning, industry-exclusive SYNC® communications and entertainment system, which enables voice-activated communication through a driver’s mobile phone and interaction with the car’s audio system.

Fusion also offers the latest version of MyFord Touch®, allowing a driver to interact with vehicle systems through voice control, a touch screen tap or a conventional button. Responding to customers’ complaints Ford recently improved the graphics and interface of this system. Both SYNC and MyFord Touch – powered by SYNC – help reduce the potential for driver distraction through voice-controlled functionality, allowing drivers to keep hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

If there were an automotive version of consumer focused interior designer and architecture publications, the Fusion would get a top spot. It’s only fair auto designers have given more than a cursory look at the place where we spend most of time – inside our cars. The Fusion has a sporty but classy, driver-oriented environment with excellent new seating that brings expanded functionality. A higher center console supports the driver-centric theme and offers more than adequate storage.

But passengers are not among the lost. Additional passenger space was designed-in by moving the instrument panel toward the windshield, contributing to the cabin’s airy, open environment. Thinner, lighter frames support comfortable next-generation seats trimmed with fabric using recycled sustainable yarns. And the back seat gives all but pro-basketball stars adequate leg and head room.

Interior surfaces are soft to the touch and interior and exterior gaps are minimized, while extra care has been taken to upholster or cover each edge and every surface a customer can touch. When the trunk lid is opened, for example, a spring-loaded cover automatically conceals the trunk latch hardware.

Watch the complete Ford Press Conference at 2012 Detroit Auto Show

Airbags are so well established in new cars most people take ‘em for granted, except when they work in a crash. They are a response to potentially bad situations, not a deterrent. Ford deserves high praise for what I’m calling PDP or potential danger prevention. The all-new Fusion offers an unprecedented portfolio of driver assistance and convenience technologies based on sensors, cameras and radar that enable the car to see and respond.

Fusion can help drivers maintain proper lane position, adjust vehicle speed to changing traffic conditions, identify suitable parking spaces and help park, even aiding drivers backing out of parking space where visibility is obstructed. Specific technologies include:

• Lane Keeping System: This technology consists of three elements to help a driver maintain proper lane position. Using a small, forward-facing camera behind the inside rearview mirror, the system “looks” down the road, monitoring lane lines to determine that the car is on course. The system will alert a driver if drowsiness or erratic lane-keeping is detected. The second element warns a driver with a steering wheel vibration if the Fusion drifts too close to lane markings. Finally, lane keeping aid will actually apply pressure on the steering to help bring the car back into proper lane position

• Adaptive cruise control: Using forward-looking radar, this system “looks” down the road when activated, slowing the Fusion when slower traffic is detected ahead. Adaptive cruise control enables collision warning with brake support to help slow the car if the potential of a crash is detected

• Active park assist: Employing sensors, this technology can identify a suitable parallel parking space, calculate the trajectory and steer the car to properly position it within the spot. All a driver need do is operate accelerator and brake pedals

• Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) with cross-traffic alert: Sensors in both Fusion rear quarter-panels are able to detect traffic in a driver’s blind spot, providing both audible and visual warnings if traffic – unseen by the driver – is detected. BLIS technology enables cross-traffic alert, warning the driver of oncoming traffic when backing out of a parking space with obstructed views, such as between two large vans

And to augment these technologies and the airbags Ford engineers have increased the new Fusion’s body strength by 10 percent, using more high-strength steels such as boron for added protection when it is needed.

See it soon
The Fusion will be formally introduced today to several thousand motoring mavens at the press preview of what’s known as the Detroit Show, but prefers the initials NAIAS for North American International Automobile Show. Non media, aka consumers, will be able to see and touch the new Fusion starting Saturday, January 14th during the ten day run of the show. And if you live outside Detroit, not to worry, the new Ford Fusion will be coming to an auto show in your town and certainly to a Ford dealer showroom soon. And my test drive when it happens will be here too.

• SEE: Exclusive PRESS PASS COVERAGE of the entire 2012 Detroit Auto Show