2010 Ford Fusion: First Drive

December 13, 2008
The Ford Fusion was introduced back in 2005 as a 2006 model. Its mission was modest ... it was supposed to save the company. Given the situation of Ford and other Detroit automakers, the end of this story hasn't played out.

Ford understands how important the Fusion is to the company's health. The mid-size sedan competes in the second largest segment of the automotive market (compact cars are the first).  J.D. Shanahan, Fusion's Chief Nameplate Engineer stated, "There is a huge upside for us in the mid-size segment if people realize how good this car is. It's tough for Camry and Accord owners to consider a Ford, but we've got something here that they should consider." Traditionally, the mid-size Toyotas and Hondas have sold per annum at about twice the Fusion's rate.

Ratings from Consumers Reports and J.D. Power attest to the fact that Ford Motor Company now builds cars that match or exceed the quality perennially delivered by Toyota and Honda. When one combines this new reality with Fusion's excellent driving dynamics, the argument to consider the Fusion as a serious contender becomes impossible to ignore.

In normal times, since the Fusion was only three model years old, it would have been due for a minor refresh … some added features and a gussied up nose and tail.  That's not what happened to the 2010 Ford Fusion. Ford spent $650 million on a major overhaul. In other words, don't look at the new Fusion as a microwaved leftover dressed up with some fresh garnish.

The top line is that Ford spent their money in three key areas; engines and transmissions, interiors, and styling. The result is a dramatically improved and refined midsize sedan that includes a full range of models including a base gasoline four-cylinder model, a mid-level V-6, an exceptional hybrid, and a gutsy Sport model with a big-bore V-6. Front-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive can be ordered on select models.

While the current environment isn't quite perfect for the introduction of the Fusion line's first Sport model, that doesn't stop the Sport for being truly entertaining. Power comes from it's large V-6 comes on strongly and smoothly with refinement befitting a Lincoln … this is no surprise since this engine is used in Lincoln products. The Sport's handling is so tied down, Ford felt comfortable letting journalists autocross the car, something that is completely out of character with the sedan's purpose in life. However, flying around cones in a parking lot proved that the car has the chops to precisely clip apexes, delivering a feeling of control that eludes the mid-size market's mainstay, the less buttoned-down Toyota Camry.

Ford knew that while the original Fusion was more than competitive in terms of size, features, and handling dynamics. The company also knew the car lacked refinement and that its powertrains were not efficient enough. This changes for 2010. The 2.5-liter and both V-6 engines are quiet, smooth, and significantly more fuel-efficient (an average of six to ten percent across the line).

The 2010 Fusion's new styling looks sharp, especially the aggressive front end that puts a new face on Ford's three-bar grille. The design required a new hood and front fenders, and the result is as sculptural as it is contemporary. The changes at the rear are more subtle, and along with updating the look, improve visibility because the third brake light is now mounted at the top of the trunk lid.

All 2010 Fusion models are significantly more refined inside than the outgoing model thanks to more (and more efficiently applied) insulation, thicker glass, and additional seals on the doors.  Additionally, the entire instrument panel is new and made from a seamless soft-to-the-touch material that fits with tight tolerances for a high-quality appearance. Misaligned seams always scream, "I'm a cheap car," and the Fusion doesn't have any.

In terms of equipment, the 2010 Ford Fusion is well equipped even in its base "S" configuration. Standard features include a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, air conditioning with cabin filtration, a CD audio system that is MP3 compatible, split-folding rear seat, and power windows. Content builds from here up through the following trim levels; SE, Sport, and SEL.

On top of the dense standard feature list, the 2010 Fusion also offers the following as options (depending on model); a reverse camera with a screen that is in the rearview mirror or in the nav unit (if equipped), Sirius Travel Link, moonroof, and a Sony audio system.

Regarding safety, the 2010 Ford Fusion offers what has become the standard quiver of features; ABS, traction control, electronic stability control, tire-pressure monitoring system, remote keyless entry, and six airbags. Extra safety-directed features include the Blind Spot Information System, rearview sensing system with camera, and 911 Assist for vehicles with SYNC … all options on most models.

The IIHS gave the 2009 Fusion a "Top Safety Pick," and according to Ford, the 2010 Fusion will perform even better.

The bottom line? It's better than ever, and a serious mid-size contender. Stay tuned for our full review of the 2010 Ford Fusion, and in the meantime, see our extensive photo gallery over at our 2010 Ford Fusion page.


Make sure you check out our partner sites dedicated to focused news, reviews and more for Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Honda, and the Toyota Prius.

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