2018 Ford Fusion Hybrid — The right car at the wrong time

By Jim Prueter

(July 7, 2018) At a time when family-sedan sales are taking a long and extend sales dive — as consumers seemingly can’t satisfy their appetite for utility vehicles — Ford Motor Company has decided to wave the white flag, announcing this past April that it will discontinue all sedans in North America. That includes the Fusion, tested here.

The mid-sized Fusion first debuted in 2005, replacing the revered Taurus, which was discontinued in 2006. Although, a year later, Ford CEO Alan Mulally brought back the Taurus name for the company’s full-size sedan, replacing the 500.

In 2012, Ford introduced the second-generation Fusion, with a design literally lifted from Aston Martin (then owned by Ford). It was introduced as an answer to the dominating sales grip of the best-selling Toyota Camry and popular Honda Accord. Its stylish good looks were an immediate hit and sales peaked at more than 306,000 units in 2014. Since then, sales have fallen every year, down to 209,000 last year.

For the record, while it was a strong competitor with solid sales numbers, it never quite outsold the Camry, Accord, or Nissan Altima.

Along with the declining sales of sedans and Ford’s decision to discontinue the Fusion, the excellent Fusion Hybrid faces the additional challenge of a nationwide average price of gas under three bucks a gallon — even less in some states. For any manufacturer, selling hybrids — including the class-leading Toyota Prius — isn’t a straightforward proposition, with sales facing severe headwinds.

Despite its imminent demise, the Fusion Hybrid is an impressive vehicle with little to dislike. Fusion is also offered as a PHEV plug-in hybrid, the second green option for the model.

The Fusion Hybrid is available in four trim levels: S, SE, Titanium and our tested Platinum. Fusion Hybrid pricing starts at $25,390 for the S and tops out at $37,370 for the Platinum. All trim levels are powered by the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with an electric motor that makes a combined 188 horsepower, connected to a continuously variable automatic transmission.

According the EPA, all Fusion Hybrids achieve 43 miles per gallon in the city and 41 on the highway. While impressive, it isn’t as good as other hybrids’ numbers, with the Honda Accord Hybrid attaining 47-mpg city and 47 highway. Also important to know is that Ford covers the 2018 Fusion Hybrid with a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Certain hybrid powertrain components are covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Inside, the cabin is spacious, with ample legroom in both the front and rear seats. Headroom is plentiful up front but the stylish, sloping roofline diminishes headroom for tall passengers in the back seat.

Our Platinum trim level included premium leather seats with 10-way power memory and heating and cooling up front. There’s also a leather-wrapped instrument panel, heated steering wheel, and door armrests. Additional standard equipment on the Platinum is a power moonroof, Ford’s Sync Connect, a navigation system with SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, rain-sensing wipers, blind-spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, a self-parking system, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel.

On the road, the Fusion was not only quiet and comfortable, but we also found it to have quite impressive driving dynamics. We clocked our engine performance and achieved a zero to 60 mph time of just under nine seconds. There’s a solid yet heavy feel about the Fusion. It’s certainly not a sports sedan, nor are other hybrid sedans, yet it did have some sportiness to it with responsive steering and minimal body lean in sharp curves and when cornering.

Hybrid vehicles do have regenerative brakes that return juice to the battery when applied; they can feel especially grabby, which is something you’ll have to get used to if you’ve never driven a hybrid before.

Consumers have a many choices when it comes to hybrid sedans, including Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Chevy Malibu, Hyundai Sonata, and Kia Optima. Each of these competitors offer their individual competitive advantages and are much closer to the Fusion Hybrid.

While the Fusion remains our favorite hybrid sedan, its styling is now seven model years old and where its features were once a standout, it no longer offers a distinct advantage. Still, there was a significant upgrade last year when Ford added a suite of technological active-safety systems including active lane control, replacing the earlier lane-departure warning; adaptive cruise control that works from highway speeds down to a full stop and back up; automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection; driver alerts for drowsiness; and a park-assist system that not only parallel parks but will take the Fusion into perpendicular spaces too.

Ford has not confirmed exactly when the last Fusion will roll off the assembly line, but they have already announced the changes for the 2019 model. It will feature a host of new tech, including Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite of driver-assistance technologies with features like standard blind-spot information and lane keeping.

Ford did say the 2019 would be arriving in dealerships by late summer. Pricing will be announced closer to that time.

Vital Stats
Price: $25,390 - $37,370
Price as Tested: $38,770
Powertrain: 2.0-liter 188 horsepower four-cylinder with electric motor and continuously variable automatic transmission
Fuel Economy: 43-mpg City – 41-mpg Highway 42-mpg combined
Seating: 5

Crash Test Ratings: Highest possible overall 5 star from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and overall Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Competes With:
Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Kia Optima Hybrid
Toyota Camry Hybrid

Fab Features:
Loaded with standard and available advanced operating and safety technology
Premium interior
Enjoyable driving dynamics