New & Used Ford Fusion Hybrid: In Depth
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The Ford Fusion hybrid is a family-friendly mid-size sedan that uses a gas-electric powertrain for improved efficiency over standard Fusion models. It was completely redesigned for the 2013 model year and has been sold in two generations since 2005. The hybrid version was added when the first-generation car was heavily revised for the 2010 model year.
The second-generation 2013 model has offered a Hybrid variant from the start, along with a new plug-in hybrid called the Fusion Energi. The cars share powertrains with the compact C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi hatchbacks, which are sold only as hybrids—unlike the Fusion lineup, whose five different drivetrain options include three gas-only versions.
The Fusion Hybrid and Energi models are by far the most fuel-efficient in the sedan range. The two cars look almost identical to the gas models, with just badging and minor trim differences, as well as the extra charge port ahead of the driver's door on the Energi model. They provide better gas mileage ratings for budget-conscious shoppers who want to save at the pump. There is a small initial investment required to step up to either hybrid model, however, and they come standard with many of the features that are optional on gas-powered Fusions, which further drives up the base price.
For a more detailed look at the 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid and its plug-in hybrid sibling, the Fusion Energi, see our 2016 Ford Fusion Hybrid review. You can also see the Fusion Hybrid vs. its competitors.
While the last Fusion Hybrid had few competitors in its segment, there is now a strong crop of offerings to go up against the gas-electric Fords. There is of course the Toyota Camry Hybrid, the first in this segment, which just underwent a refresh for 2015. Hyundai's Sonata Hybrid carries over for 2015 alongside a redesigned nonhybrid Sonata, and its cousin the Kia Optima Hybrid uses the same powertrain; a new Sonata Hybrid will join the lineup in 2016. Honda brought back the Accord Hybrid for 2014, and it now uses a more sensible four-cylinder engine instead of the old version's V-6.
Plug-in models are somewhat more scarce in this class. Only Honda offers a direct competitor to the Fusion Energi with its Accord Plug-In, although a Sonata plug-in is slated for 2016 alongside the regular hybrid model. Like the Fusion, this Accord Plug-In is a version of the standard hybrid model with modifications made to the battery and the addition of an onboard charger. While the Ford offering is available nationwide, however, the Honda is sold only in California. The Fusion Energi also outdoes the Accord Plug-In's EPA-rated electric driving range. Hyundai promises to beat even the Ford, by one mile of range.
The two hybrid models of the sleek, fastback Fusion are both fitted with a smaller 2.0-liter gasoline engine and a slightly revised version of Ford's two-motor hybrid system, which together produce a peak power of 188 hp. A new lithium-ion battery pack--smaller and lighter than the previous nickel-metal hydride pack used from 2010 to 2012--takes up less room in the trunk. This powertrain is shared with the Ford C-Max Hybrid compact hybrid hatchback, the company's first dedicated hybrid (there's no gasoline-only version) and its first direct competitor for the Toyota Prius.
While the 2013 and 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid models were originally rated at 47 mpg combined (47 mpg city, 47 mpg highway), in June 2014 Ford lowered the ratings to 42 mpg combined (44 mpg city, 41 mpg highway) after discovering errors in test measurements and calculations for aerodynamic drag. Ford agreed with the EPA to lower the ratings and send a check for the increased gasoline costs to all owners of 2013 and 2014 Fusion Hybrids, along with those of five other Ford and Lincoln models whose ratings were reduced at the same time.
The changes followed reports by numerous outlets, led by the prestigious Consumer Reports, that failed to achieve anything like the 47-mpg combined number. While it lauded the new Fusion Hybrid, the consumer magazine and most other reviews rarely got above 41 mpg for the Fusion Hybrid, some seeing as low as 36 mpg. The discrepancy is especially jarring because the first generation of Fusion Hybrids were widely acknowledged to deliver on their combined 39-mpg rating. The new, lower ratings still beat those for the latest Toyota Camry Hybrid (41 or 40 mpg, depending on model), as well as the most recent Hyundai Sonata Hybrid (38 or 37 mpg, again depending on model). The Honda Accord Hybrid, however, outdoes all of those cars at 47 mpg combined.
Otherwise, the new Ford Fusion lineup has received high marks from our reviewers for its "handsome, even stunning looks," generous interior space, and its taut roadholding. Dislikes included only average rear-seat headroom and the profusion of shiny plastic trim in the cabin.
The Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid was rolled out only to selected Ford dealers that have been certified to sell plug-in cars. It's one of two Energi plug-in hybrid models--the other being the C-Max five-door hatchback--which share a virtually identical powertrain. The Fusion Energi shares the engine and hybrid system of the hybrid Fusion, but it has a larger lithium-ion battery pack in the trunk--along with a charging port on the fender. Its major difference is that you can plug it into the wall to recharge it--which will give you up to 15 miles of all-electric range, versus the Hybrid's 1 mile or so--after which the Fusion Energi reverts to being a conventional hybrid.
For drivers or families who make lots of short trips and have time to plug in between them, the new Fusion Energi offers the potential to drive on electricity alone for a high proportion of around-town driving. In general, grid power costs only half as much per mile--perhaps less, depending on your local power prices--as does burning gasoline, even in a 42-mpg car like the Fusion Hybrid. Still, expects sales of the Energi model to be just a small fraction of its Fusion Hybrid sales, as the plug-in will be more expensive (although the company hasn't yet said how much).
While the 2013 and 2014 Ford Fusion Energi models were originally rated at 43 mpg combined (100 MPGe efficiency, 21 miles electric range), in June 2014 Ford lowered the ratings to 38 mpg combined (88 MPGe efficiency, 19 miles electric range) after discovering errors in lab-test measurements and calculations for aerodynamic drag. As it had done with the Fusion Hybrid, the EPA allowed Ford to lower its ratings and compensate owners for the presumably higher gasoline costs. The new lower ratings mean the Fusion Energi is now beaten on efficiency by both the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid (at 95 MPGe), and also the Chevrolet Volt's 98 MPGe. The measure gives the number of miles a plug-in car can drive electrically on the energy content that's contained in 1 gallon of gasoline.
Ford has priced the new Fusion Hybrid more aggressively than in the past, starting at $27,995, representing a smaller boost over the price of comparable gasoline Fusions than for the previous generation, which ran from 2010 through 2012.
A refresh to the Fusion Hybrids and the entire Fusion lineup is expected for the 2016 model year. Changes are likely to focus on the exterior styling, interior layout, and technology offerings; we expect the number of standard and optional active-safety items will increase. The hybrid powertrain could see some tweaks but will probably be largely the same as what is offered today.
Fusion Hybrid history
That first-generation Ford Fusion Hybrid launched in 2010, and was a well-engineered, quiet, responsive hybrid sedan that looked "normal" and yet delivered remarkably high gas-mileage numbers. It also earned excellent safety ratings--like the IIHS' Top Safety Pick--which the latest 2013 model also earned. That first Fusion Hybrid four-door sedan was Ford's second hybrid model, following the now-departed Escape Hybrid. The first-generation Fusion Hybrid hit the market in spring 2009 as a 2010 model--based on the updated 2010 version of the Fusion that had originally launched way back in 2005.
The 2010–2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid used a 2.5-liter engine paired to Ford's two-motor hybrid system, with a total overall peak power of 191 horsepower and a combined EPA gas-mileage rating of 39 mpg (41 mpg city, 46 mpg highway)--better than the Camry Hybrid's at the time, which was 34 mpg combined, as well as that of the Nissan Altima Hybrid, also 34 mpg (that model is now on hiatus). It was sold as a well equipped model, containing many of the luxury features fitted to the high-end Fusion SEL model. On the road, it was quiet, responsive, and delivered 40 mpg or better in real-world usage--leading to rave reviews for this first full hybrid U.S. sedan.