Could it be that an American automaker is finally delivering a vehicle with better technology than the foreign competition? The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid could be that vehicle. The Fusion Hybrid delivers contemporary styling, a remarkable driving experience, and fuel economy that is truly world-class.
Let’s start with what makes the Fusion Hybrid so noteworthy. The stingy Fusion gets a fuel economy rating of 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, according to estimated EPA ratings. That is 8 mpg more in city driving and 2 mpg more on the highway than the Toyota Camry Hybrid delivers--for a roomy mid-size sedan that is truly significant.
The best part is you don't have to putt around town to achieve 40 mpg; the EPA estimates are real numbers. On a recent trip from Denver to Santa Fe New Mexico, the Fusion delivered an average of 39.8 mpg on a road trip of over 800 miles. I filled the tank once on the trip and had a quarter of a tank left when we got back to Denver. Most of those miles were highway and driving at high speeds, making it even more impressive.
The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, which starts $27,950, comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a 275 volt sealed battery, and a permanent magnet-electric motor. The horsepower of the vehicle’s combined electric motor and internal combustion engine is only 191 horsepower, but the torque generated from the electric motor makes it feel like much more. When you step on the gas pedal you get the power that you would expect from a six cylinder engine.
The Fusion Hybrid also comes with a regenerative braking system, an LCD graphic instrument panel, a reverse-sensing system, unique badging, 17 alloy inch wheels, and an E-CVT electronic continuously variable transmission. The vehicle also comes with instrumentation not found in the regular Fusion. Its EcoGuide information system flanks the center-mounted speedometer with two LCD panels, communicating to the driver what the powertrain is doing and how to optimize fuel efficiency.
The EcoGuide works like a video game. You can select from four different formats, Inform Mode, Enlighten Mode, Engage Mode, and Empower Mode. With the help of the EcoGuide, it’s almost like playing a game to see how you can use the gas pedal to effectively stretch your mileage. If you do most of your driving at less than 50 mph, the hybrid system's most efficient speed range, a Fusion Hybrid will deliver mileage that is truly remarkable.
The secret of the vehicle’s excellent city mileage is that its electric motor powers the car in cruising mode up to 47 mph. If more power is needed for acceleration or passing, only then does the gasoline engine instantly and nearly silently kick in, adding smooth forward motion. And when the stoplight turns green, you can use the throttle pedal freely, accelerating to the speed of traffic. Then by letting off the pedal slightly at 40 mph or so, the gasoline engine almost imperceptibly shuts down. You are running on clean, thrifty electric power and burning zero gasoline. Practically the only indication of this is by watching the Eco-Guide. The smoothness of these transfers between gasoline and electricity is the unmistakable result of Ford’s advanced engineering.
Power delivery in the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is also smooth and seamless, unlike the artificial sudden throttle response of its Asian competitors. It’s roomy and comfortable, a cutting-edge mid-sized family sedan with world-class efficiency and satisfying performance. When you factor in the $3,400 after-purchase federal hybrid tax credit, it makes the price right too.