By John Voelcker
Now that we’re back from the Detroit Auto Show, we can say with confidence that the two most important cars of the show were the 2013 Ford Fusion and the 2013 Dodge Dart.
The 2013 Fusion in particular got rave reviews for its styling–which blended elements of Audi A7 and even a hint of Aston-Martin sports car in the grille forms–and high hopes for the real-world gas mileage of its array of high-efficiency four-cylinder engines.
Crowds clustered around the many Fusions in the Ford display, and it’s worth noting that the outgoing 2012 model had its best sales year ever, which should bode well for the redesigned Fusion coming this fall.
As before, the new Fusion offers a hybrid option, in this case with a smaller 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with the company’s own two-motor hybrid drive and a new lithium-ion battery pack.
That car may achieve as much as 47 mpg on the EPA combined cycle, though as always, we’ll wait for the final figures to be released.
But there’s also an even greener model, the 2013 Ford Fusion Energi, which is Ford’s designation for their plug-in hybrid models (there’s also a 2013 Ford C-Max Energi five-seat hatchback as well).
The two highest-efficiency gasoline models will offer either a 179-horsepower 1.6-liter or beefy 237-hp 2.0-liter four, both of them with EcoBoost direct-injection and turbocharging technology. (Power output figures are estimated.)
There’s also a base 170-hp, 2.5-liter four that’s largely carried over from the current Fusion. It’s the least powerful of the three, and likely to be fitted only to about 10 percent of the new cars, those that are the cheapest entry level models.
The 1.6-liter EcoBoost is likely to be the gas-mileage leader, and the 2.0-liter EcoBoost will generate enough power to substitute for the high-end V-6 model in the outgoing Fusion. That’s the engine that powers the all-wheel drive model, for instance.
The new engines mean Ford will offer fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines in every vehicle it makes from mid-size sedans upwards, with the exception of its full-size sport utility vehicles. (Those vehicles may soon get the option, as will the Focus compact and Fiesta subcompact in future model years.)
The interior of the new Fusion is clean and less fussy than some of its smaller offerings, and of course it includes the latest iteration of the MyFordTouch voice control system as well as the well-known SYNC system for controlling infotainment gear.