2013 Ford Fusion Road Test Review
2013 Ford Fusion enters competitive midsize sedan segment ready to party
Scores High: Attractive exterior design, engaging driving dynamics, wide range of features and technology
Scores Low: Center stack design borders on bland, lots and lots of steering wheel buttons
Total Car Score Analysis
The Ford Fusion is already a strong seller in the competitive midsize sedan segment due to its combination of good looks, high-tech features, available hybrid drivetrain and appealing driving dynamics. Yet it’s safe to say the all-new 2013 Ford Fusion has surpassed its own benchmarks in each of these areas, establishing itself as a leader among midsize sedans in several areas.
The 2013 Ford Fusion is available with four engines, two transmissions, front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, plus two hybrid models (a traditional hybrid that goes on sale this fall and a plug-in version, called Fusion Energi, that goes on sale in early 2013). The standard Fusion Hybrid establishes a new benchmark in fuel efficiency ratings, earning 47 city mpg, 47 highway mpg and 47 combined mpg from the EPA. Add in the new Fusion’s striking good looks, long list of advanced technology and confident handling, and you’re left with a compelling midsize sedan that’s likely to rise above a field of compelling midsize sedans.
With a sleek new exterior shape that could be pulled from a certain British premium brand (one formerly owned by Ford…), the 2013 Fusion transmits an upscale first impression. The sleek shape is more than just a visual trick, as the Fusion now sports a slippery 0.27 coefficient of drag. This is a 10 percent improvement over the previous Fusion, contributing to higher fuel efficiency and reduced wind noise. The Fusion’s upright grille, high hood and tall rear deck blend with the small roof pillars to give the car a cohesive (if somewhat chunky) profile. Standard LED taillights and projector headlights, along with sweeping hood- and bodylines, extend the premium design language.
A revised MacPherson strut front suspension and multilink independent rear suspension provides Fusion passengers with a smooth ride over broken pavement. The new electric power steering system offers natural and progressive feel through the steering wheel, while minimal body roll lets the Fusion navigate sweeping corners with ease.
These driving dynamics can be mated to one of several Fusion drivetrain options for 2013, starting with a base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine on the Fusion S. The 2.5-liter, making 175 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque, delivers 22 city mpg, 34 highway mpg and 26 combined mpg while driving the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. It’s not the most advanced or refined engine in today’s automotive marketplace, but it’s still competitive in terms of performance and fuel efficiency.
Stepping up to the Fusion SE adds two engine options above the base 2.5-liter. A 1.6-liter EcoBoost bumps peak horsepower to 178 and peak torque to 184 pound-feet. Fuel efficiency rises slightly as well, with 23 city mpg, 36 highway mpg and 28 combined mpg. An additional fuel-saving feature comes with the optional Start/Stop engine package for the 1.6-liter. For $295 the engine will shut down when the vehicle comes to a stop and restart as soon as the driver releases the brake pedal. This package also includes the same underbody kit found on the Fusion Hybrid to improve aerodynamics and highway fuel efficiency. The result? A 1-to-2 mpg improvement in both city and highway ratings.
You can also pair this engine to a 6-speed manual transmission to bump fuel ratings to 25 city mpg, 37 highway mpg and 29 combined mpg. These numbers, while only slightly better than the base 2.5-liter engine, tell only part of the story. Power delivery from the 1.6-liter EcoBoost is more refined and responsive, reflecting the engine’s advanced technology and combine with the Fusion’s capable handling to create a genuinely fun-to-drive family sedan (particularly if you opt for the 6-speed manual transmission).
Spirited driving fans should consider the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine that comes as the top choice in the Fusion SE or standard in the Fusion Titanium. This engine can only be connected to the 6-speed automatic, but it does include steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and makes an inspiring 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. With the 2.0-liter the new Ford Fusion is among the most entertaining midsize sedans currently available. A healthy growl from under the hood accompanies responsive downshifts when prodding the throttle. Plan on making the most of freeway entrance ramps or two-lane canyon runs, but also more frequent fuel stops (the 2.0-liter gets 22 city mpg, 31 highway mpg and 25 combined mpg).
For the truly gas-station averse, the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid combines a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine with an electric motor and continuously variable transmission (CVT) to create 188 horsepower and travel up to 62 mph on pure electric power. This drivetrain earns 47 city, highway and combined mpg ratings, handily beating the Toyota Camry Hybrid by 8, 4 and 6 mpg (respectively). The Fusion Hybrid’s driving dynamics closely mirror the standard Fusion, with no discernable impact to handling and plenty of power. The upcoming Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid should offer even higher efficiency figures, with a projected mile-per-gallon equivalency rating of over 100 MPGe.
Interior Design and Function
Like its exterior, the 2013 Ford Fusion’s interior is all new and intended to reflect the refined, clean image the new body projects. The overall quality of the materials is high for the midsize sedan segment, with soft-touch panels along the dash and doors. The center stack has a very straightforward design with twin beams swinging up from the center console and framing the climate/audio controls and central display screen.
The center-stack control area on higher trim models doesn’t use actual buttons. Instead you simply press the panel where the control markings are located. This is meant to further validate the Fusion’s upscale design theme, but between the stark center stack design and the lack of buttons the area almost looks more plain than premium. It’s ironic because the rest of the interior, including the bright gauge cluster and comfortable, heavily contoured seats, transmit a feeling of quality. We also noted some scratches in the silver paint that runs along those twin beams in the center stack.
Otherwise, there’s little to fault with the Fusion’s cabin. Legroom, both front and rear, is excellent, as is a useable trunk capacity of 16 cubic feet (12 cubic feet for the hybrid). The aforementioned seats proved supportive and coddling, whether covered in cloth or leather. Ford’s Sync system, once the cutting-edge of control interfaces, now feels quite contemporary and maybe a little less sophisticated than the latest versions from other automakers. Yet it still offers a vast ranges of features related to music, hands-free communication and route guidance, much of it accessible via voice control. The ability to customize the displays in the gauge cluster area is appreciated, though the number of buttons on the Fusion’s steering wheel (we counted 22) suddenly seems a tad excessive.
Primary Features and Options
The base 2013 Ford Fusion S starts at $22,495 and includes cloth seats, a four-speaker AM/FM radio with CD and MP3 capability, Sync with MyFord control interface, automatic projector headlights, LED taillights, one-touch up and down power windows and 16-inch wheels. A remote start system can be added for $345, as can dealer-installed accessories like illuminated doorsill plates ($191) and a dual portable DVD system for rear passengers ($729).
The Fusion SE starts at $24,495 and includes a power driver’s seat, voice activation for Sync, six speakers, rear A/C vents, body-colored rocker panels and 17-inch alloy wheels. A moonroof is available for $895 and a reverse sensing system can be added for $295. There’s also a $1,000 Technology Package available with rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control and touch controls for Sync. Other high-tech options include a Driver Assist Package with lane departure warning, blind sport warning, automatic high beams, 110-volt AC outlet and rain sensing wipers. A $795 navigation system and adaptive cruise control ($995) is also available on the Fusion SE.
The Fusion Titanium starts at $30,995 for a front-wheel-drive model, or $32,995 for an all-wheel-drive version. Dual-zone automatic climate control, a 12-speaker audio system with HD radio, leather and heated front seats, push-button engine start, remote engine start, reverse sensing, a rearview camera, steering wheel buttons for cruise and audio controls, fog lights and 18-inch alloy wheels are included on the Titanium. A set of 19-inch alloy wheels ($695) can be added, along with the same high-tech features offered on the Fusion SE.
The 2013 Fusion SE Hybrid starts at $27,995 and includes dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver’s seat, Sync with voice activation, and a dual LCD gauge with specific hybrid energy readings and driver guidance to maximize efficiency. Most of the same features available on the standard SE are available on the Fusion SE Hybrid.
It’s Perfect For…
The midsize family sedan segment has never been more competitive. All-new models from every major automaker have appeared in the past two years. The new Fusion enters a market that doesn’t allow for major, or even minor, flaws. Fortunately for Ford, the Fusion doesn’t have any. Instead, it brings appealing style, athletic handling and advanced technology together in a single package that new-car shoppers will quickly appreciate. And because there are so many versions available, the 2013 Ford Fusion offers something for nearly everyone, from the driving enthusiast to the environmentally conscious (and even those who are both).
Vehicle Tested: 2013 Ford Fusion Titanium AWD
Base MSRP of Test Vehicle: $32,200 (not including destination charge)
Options on Test Vehicle: Driver Assist Package (includes 110-volt AC outlet, Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane-Keeping System, Auto high-beam headlights, rain sensing wipers -- $1,000), Navigation System ($795 ), 19-inch H-spoke aluminum wheels ($695), White Platinum Paint ($495), Destination Charge ($795)
MSRP of Test Vehicle (including destination charge): $35,980
The manufacturer provided Total Car Score this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
Photos Courtesy of the manufacturer.