Now that it's put aside its V-6 engines, the four-cylinder-powered Ford Fusion earns some significant fuel-economy numbers. It's just shy of best-in-class when fitted with its optional--and smallest-displacement--engine, and among the best with its most powerful powertrain.
There's also a Fusion Hybrid, with sky-high 47-mpg ratings across the board, and an Energi plug-in hybrid version with a higher 100-MPGe figure than that of the Chevy Volt--but we're handling those separately due to the technology differences with the gas-only cars.
The base engine in the Fusion S and SE is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, carried over with minor improvements from other model lines (a version is found in the Mazda5 minivan, too). It's combined with a six-speed automatic, and generates fuel economy figures of 22 miles per gallon city, 34 miles per gallon highway, or 26 mpg combined. The city number's very low, but the highway number rivals vehicles like the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima, and beats the base Chevy Malibu.
The standard engine on the Fusion Titanium is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four with direct injection. Teamed to a six-speed automatic and front- or all-wheel drive, it's good for gas mileage of 22/33 mpg, or 26 mpg combined, Ford says. Those figures haven't been certified yet, but they put the Fusion in the same space as the Sonata 2.0T and Optima Turbo, as well as the Malibu Turbo, while significantly outpacing the Nissan Altima V-6 and its 22/30-mpg figures. With all-wheel drive, it loses 1 mpg on the combined cycle.
The interesting comparison comes with the optional 1.6-liter turbocharged, direct-injected four. It's offered on the Fusion SE, and it also can be outfitted with stop/start technology for $295 more. Stop/start boosts fuel economy almost 4 percent, Ford says; it also transmits some light shudder into the pedals and floorpan on restart, we found during our short test drive, but it's completely tolerable as it helps this powertrain to gas mileage of 25/37 mpg, or 29 mpg combined with a six-speed manual, or 23/36 mpg and 28 mpg combined with the automatic. That's just below the Nissan Altima's class-leading 38 mpg for the highway cycle for non-hybrid vehicles, and a few miles per gallon ahead of all other competitors. Will buyers pay the premium for fuel economy? It's been a mixed proposition so far in other Ford products, but the Fusion could prove otherwise.