New & Used Ford Fusion Hybrid: In Depth
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The Ford Fusion is a family-friendly mid-size sedan that’s been sold in two generations since 2005 and was redesigned for the 2013 model year. The Ford Fusion Hybrid model was added to the first generation when it was heavily revised for the 2010 model year.
The second-generation 2013 model had a Hybrid version from the start, along with a new plug-in hybrid variant called the Fusion Energi. Both cars used the same powertrains as those in the compact C-Max Hybrid and Energi hatchbacks, which are sold only as hybrids--unlike the Fusion lineup, whose five different drivetrain options include three gasoline engines.
For the generation of Fusions introduced in 2013, the Fusion Hybrid and Energi models are by far the most fuel-efficient. These models look just like the gas versions, but they have better gas mileage ratings for budget-conscious shoppers who want to save time and money at the pump.
For a more detailed look at the 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid and its plug-in hybrid sibling, the Fusion Energi, see our 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid review. You can also see the Fusion Hybrid vs. its competitors.
The new Fusion competes with a broad array of models from other makers, but there are fewer hybrid offerings in the segment. The best-known may be the Toyota Camry Hybrid--the first car in its class to offer a hybrid option--which was redesigned for 2012. Then there is the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, launched in 2011 and revised in 2013 to make its powertrain smoother, more powerful, and more fuel-efficient. The Kia Optima Hybrid shares the Sonata's hybrid system as well, and the Honda Accord Hybrid will arrive as a 2014 model during the second half of 2013.
Honda has already introduced an Accord Plug-In Hybrid, also a 2014 model, though its availability is limited to California and a few other early markets. That model competes head-to-head with the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, though the Ford's Energi model has a longer all-electric range as rated by the EPA.
The two hybrid models of the sleek, fastback 2013 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 lab-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 five other cars 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 rated 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 going 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 2013 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.
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.