AUTOWEEK.COM EDITOR DALE JEWETT: This car is the “stealth” hybrid. Other than the badges on the sides and on the trunk, most people would not be able to tell the hybrid Fusion apart from its conventional-powertrain counterpart.
Years of refinement have turned the Fusion’s interior into a solid, comfortable compartment. The switchgear has a tight feel and a high-quality click when operated. The doors open with a solid pop–no tinny sound here.
The leather-covered seats were comfortable and easy to adjust. Seat heaters were welcome over a frigid weekend, but I would wish that they would come on stronger and faster and stay that way, as opposed to the slow warm-up operation I felt.
Again, if you didn’t know that this was a hybrid, it would be tough to guess. The transition between the electric motor and the four-cylinder engine is as seamless as I think you could get.
The biggest clue is the lack of engine noise when you first turn the key. In most cases, the Fusion hybrid starts up on battery alone, then the engine kicks in about 10 seconds afterward if it’s needed to recharge the battery pack.
Of course, every time I’m in a hybrid, I can’t resist the urge to try and travel on battery power alone for as long as possible. In this car, going EV from a stop takes a fairly light touch on the accelerator pedal. But it’s much easier to get up to speed with the four-cylinder engine, back off the pedal to begin coasting and switch into EV model, then use the battery to maintain momentum.
The gauge cluster puts a speedometer in the center, flanked by two digital screens. You can chose among a half-dozen designs–from one that closely tracks the workings of the powertrain to a minimal interface that serves up speed, fuel and temperature. And the older-generation interface for the audio/navigation/info system is easy to operate.
This Fusion hybrid is fully loaded, and the sticker shows it. Yet given the technology, it didn’t feel as if I was being gouged. If a comfortable ride is your goal, and you spend a good amount of time in stop-and-go traffic, this car will let you blend right in.
2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid
Base Price: $28,825
As-Tested Price: $32,820
Drivetrain: 2.5-liter I4 hybrid; FWD, continuously variable transmission
Output: 156 hp @ 6,000 rpm (191 net system hp), 136 lb-ft @ 2,250 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,720 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA/AW): 39/30.2 mpg
Options: Rapid spec 502A including voice-activated navigation system, driver’s vision group, BLIS with cross-traffic alert, rearview video camera, rain-sensing wipers, moon &tune value package, power moonroof, Sony 12-speaker sound system, heated front seats ($5,370); rapid spec savings (-$1,375)
Mr WordPress on Hello world! Tweets that mention… on Ford Motor Co. to reclaim seco… Tweets that mention… on 2011 4×4 of the Year: For… Tweets that mention… on Ford Reenters Domestic Minivan… Tweets that mention… on 2011 Ford Explorer terrain kno…