Midway through its life span, the 2011 Ford Fusion still looks the part of a crisply executed family sedan. Last year it grew a large grille, one with bigger chrome bars, and the makeover hasn't pleased all critics--but the Fusion still can glide down a runway with the newest offerings in the class.
The Fusion's mannered aggression starts with that large grille, but it sweeps up through large faired-in headlamps sculpted into the fenders. The front end owes plenty to the Ford 427 concept car from the auto show circuit--and to other vehicles like the Ford Edge and particularly, the latest Ford Taurus, which share some of the same cues. From the side, the Fusion has a little more of an identity crisis, its plainer glass and sheetmetal showing more of the age it's accumulated, though it all resolves nicely in a decklid that's gained some attractive stamped-in details. In all, the Fusion has a subtle wedge and some understated details that in balance, work much better together than the lumpy Camry and the bloated Honda Accord, though perhaps not as slickly as the cues on the 2011 Kia Optima.
The Fusion's cabin walks the same tightrope between functionality and austerity. A big boost in material quality last year made the interior a much better workplace, and the lines are holding up well. It's just less extroverted than the wild collection of curves inside the new Hyundai Sonata, though we're apt to think the Fusion's interior will wear better over time. When the optional navigation system is ordered--or on all Hybrid models--the Fusion gains a big, beautiful LCD touchscreen in the center of the dash. It'll remind you of the finest man cave you've dreamed about, even if it can't channel the big game through all its lush-looking pixels.