Ford Fusion SEL — Ford's better idea

By Al Vinikour

For the past week we’ve been test-driving the new 2010 Ford Fusion and it brought to mind two advertising slogans the company used years ago — Mr, This is Ford Country…and Ford Has a Better Idea. They’re kind of catchy and more than ever applicable.

Just recently Ford’s Fusion has moved up to the third spot of best-selling vehicles in the mid-size sedan segment, behind Camry and Accord – two “take-no-prisoners” competitors. The race for favor is getting interesting considering that all the soothsayers are giving Ford and the Fusion comparable marks in quality and durability to those Asian brands.

For 2010, Fusion comes in five trim levels – S, SE, SEL, Sport and Hybrid. Our test vehicle was an SEL so this will be the focus (pardon the pun) of this review. (The 2010 Fusion Hybrid will be the subject of a future test.) The SEL was loaded and a base-price model of $23,975 evolved into an MSRP of $30,825 (after destination and delivery of $725) but deducting a Rapid Spec Option Package Savings of $945 it came down to $29,880. Sounds kind of pricey for a Ford you say? Listen, Jocko…you can get a similarly-equipped Audi A4 and you’ll be lucky to keep it in the low-$40,000s. In this economy the price of a loaded Fusion is like getting your cake, eating it too.

Our test SEL had the optional 3.0-Liter Duratec engine, improved for 2010 to give better fuel economy than its predecessor and more horsepower and torque (240 hp, up from 221; and 223 pound-feet of torque – up from 205). The 3.0L is now flex fuel capable and can run on E-85 ethanol, which delivers even higher horsepower. All 2010 Fusions have transmissions with six speeds. This one had the 6-speed SelectShift Automatic.

We’re sorry people but this “driving like it has a stick shift” doesn’t do it for us. In this case we just as soon let the transmission do the work. After all, by definition, that’s what an automatic transmission does!!!!! Note that not everyone agrees with this position. Some think that shifting adds a fun and entertainment factor not found on a regular automatic. The next things they’ll want are paddle shifters. For crying out loud – buy a stick!

Though easily identified as a Fusion (and what’s wrong with that?) there are refinements to indicate this is a new-generation model. The newly-designed front end includes a domed hood, new headlamps, new grille and larger fog lamps. The tail lamps have changed as well with the back-up lights located higher up in the lens.

The all-new interior is immediately noticeable upon entry. There are metallic new finishes on the instrument panel that carry through on the center console, doors and steering wheel. The instrument panel displays and switches have been updated with a contemporary iced-blue lighting. The gauge cluster has been designed with daytime backlighting, a black lens and 3-D elements. Gauge needles sweep back and forth as the lighting and new chimes come on. The ambient lighting system offers the option of illuminating the front and rear footwells and front cupholders. The trunk is quite spacious with a capacity of 16.5 cubic feet.

The seats have been revised to have more side support, contrasting stitching and leather inserts and smoother bolsters for increased comfort. Front legroom of 42.3” and rear legroom of 37.1” allows plenty of comfort for four but it’s a bit tight for a fifth person in the middle of the rear seat. If you have a third child that you have to cram in that space you might want to think about leaving him or her home. Through its lifetime the Fusion won’t cause you much trouble…but we guarantee you that won’t be the case about that kid when the teen years come.

The center console is nice and deep and so are the cupholders. The SEL has a digital heating/ventilation and air conditioning system; and an Optional Voice Activated Navigation System with an incredibly sharp 8” screen. It also contained the optional Rear View Video Camera. It also has a misplaced ignition switch which is hard and somewhat uncomfortable to reach. Ford needs to look at some of its competition and realize that the dash is once again the best location for the ignition.

The Fusion has an optional feature that should be made standard on all vehicles worldwide…and damned soon! We’re referred to the Blind Spot Information System w/Cross Traffic Alert, BLIS for short. It’s magnificent and will more than avoid thousands of accidents per year. It uses two multiple beam radar modules packaged in the rear quarter panels that detects moving objects within a 65-foot range from either side of the vehicle. The radar identifies when a vehicle enters the defined blind spot zone and illuminates an indicator light on the corresponding side-view mirror. An audible alert is sounded as well. It also alerts drivers sooner of nearby traffic while backing out of parking lot spots. You begin trusting it implicitly almost immediately.

EPA fuel economy estimates are 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway. It carries a 3-year/36,000 mile Bumper-to-Bumper warranty, 5-years/60,000 on the powertrain and 5-years 60,000 miles roadside assistance. The 2010 Fusion has a 5-Star Frontal Crash rating for Driver and Passenger sides; and five-Star Front Seat Side Crash and 4-Star Rear Seat Side Crash ratings in addition to a 4-Star Rollover rating.

If you’re still thinking German, buy a loaded Fusion, spend part of the money you save and take a Berlitz course…and then take a trip to Germany and converse with your new friends Hans and Frieda. Meantime, we don’t know what the German word for “amazing” is but in English it’s “Fusion.”


Base price: $23,975; as driven, $29,880
Engine:  3.0-liter Duratec V-6

Horsepower: 240 @ 6,550 rpm/250 @ 6,550 with E85
Torque: 223 pounds-feet @ 6,550 rpm
Drive: Front-wheel
Transmission:  Six-speed (SelectShift) Automatic

Seating: 2/3

Wheelbase:  107.4 inches

Length: 190.6 inches

Curb weight: 3,446 pounds

Turning circle: 37.5 feet
Luggage capacity: 16.5 cubic feet

Fuel capacity: 17.5 gallons (unleaded)

EPA rating: 27 mpg highway, 18 city
0-60: Under 8.0 seconds 
Also consider: Audi A4, Camry LE, Honda Accord

The Good
• Great interior lighting
• Smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission
• Loaded with safety, technology and ambiance 

The Bad

• The darn ignition switch

The Ugly

• Possible wrist damage due to placement of ignition switch