2017 Ford Fusion

LOS ANGELES — I’m not surprised to read that Ford says the mid-size Fusion four-door sedan is its second best selling vehicle — behind only the F-150 truck. What’s more surprising, in an age when it seems everyone wants an SUV, it outsells the Ford Explorer. Every time I see one on the freeway I am struck by how handsome it looks. Car buffs say it captures “Aston Martin” styling.

I agree — the grille is almost pure Aston, which is a tremendous compliment as Aston Martins are considered among the prettiest cars on the road. It’s also worth remembering that Ford owned Aston Martin for a while so it’s not surprising that the Fusion legitimately inherited some of that design flair.

The 2017 Fusion has been refreshed with a sharper grille and other minor tweaks that fortunately leave the good styling cues largely untouched. It’s inside and under the hood where Ford’s designers and engineers have spent time freshening the second generation Fusion, which was first introduced for the 2013 model year. The original Fusion was introduced in 2006.

The range of models has also been extended to 12 with a choice of six different engine configurations and an optional AWD system. Pricing starts from around $23,000 and stretches to about $45,000 — an enormous range of choices that should cover buyer’s desires from those looking for an economy type midsize sedan to those wanting an entry level luxury sports sedan.

The lowest priced S model, with a starting price of $22,120 plus $895 delivery charge, is powered by a 2.5-liter engine that produces 175 horsepower. Standard features include a new dial type gearshift that works the six-speed automatic transmission, push start button, an electric parking brake and a sound-deadening windshield. The optional and oft maligned Sync communications and entertainment system has been upgraded to Sync 3 and is faster and more intuitive according to Ford.

Moving up a notch, the SE comes standard with the same 2.5-liter engine but has more options including a long list of safety features such as blind spot and cross traffic alert systems, lane-keeping assist and parallel parking assist. 

The top of the line regular gasoline-powered Fusion is the new Platinum model, which is powered by a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that produces 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. It includes oodles of leather, which Ford says is slightly different in every car with unique variations in color and grain patterns.

For those looking for a more technologically advanced Fusion there is a choice of two different hybrid models. Both feature a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle four-cylinder engine that produces 141 horsepower (188 hp when combined with the electric motor) and delivers 43 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway coupled to a CVT transmission.

The Fusion Energi is the most advanced model as it includes a larger 7.6
-kH lithium-ion battery that allows the car to drive in electric only mode up to 21 miles. According to Ford it’s possible to travel 610 miles on a fully charged battery and a full tank of gas, which is greater distance than any other plug-in hybrid on the market. Sadly this model costs almost $9,000 more than a similarly equipped non-hybrid Fusion making it difficult to justify if you’re only interested in saving money via better fuel economy.

We had the opportunity to drive the SE with an optional 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine and the Hybrid and we were not disappointed. Both models provided crisp handling, rode smoothly and provided decent power. I personally found the refreshed interior more to my liking than that in the segment top sellers —the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Ford was confident enough to have examples of these cars for direct comparisons. In many ways the Fusion has more of a European feel which is not surprising as the car was designed and engineered in Europe, where it is know as the Mondeo and is a much more highly regarded mid-size sedan than the Toyota Camry.

For driving enthusiasts there is an all-new Fusion V6 Sport that makes its appearance this fall. With standard all-wheel drive and a 2.7-liter V-6 twin-turbo EcoBoost engine (the same one that’s in the base F-150 and is often compared to a V-8 engine) producing 325 hp with 380 lb-ft torque it is a potentially exciting sports sedan that might even give the BMW 3-series a run for the money since it has slightly more power than the 2016 BMW 340iX.

One of the unique features of the Fusion V6 Sport is continuously controlled damping with unique pothole mitigation technology. At the flip of a switch the driver can set the suspension in sport mode for more agile handling. The sport suspension system continuously adjusts the damping characteristics of the car and can detect when a wheel is about to enter a pothole and immediately stiffen that wheel’s suspension so the wheel does not drop as far into the pothole consequently diminishing the impact that would normally occur when the tire hits the far side of the pothole. It also sends the information to the rear wheel giving an even better opportunity to adjust the rear suspension as the rear tire approaches the pothole.

We have not yet had a chance to drive a Fusion Sport but have seen it in the flesh and based on the attributes of the regular Fusion we can imagine it will be worthy of being called a true sports sedan. It starts at $33,475.

Few people can afford an Aston Martin but anyone in the market for a classy mid-size sedan won’t go far wrong if they place the 2017 Ford Fusion among their top choices when it comes time to buy a new car. And, for those of you living in areas where AWD is highly desirable, the Fusion offers AWD as an option unlike its closest competitors such as the Chevrolet Malibu, Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima.

— John Rettie