The Car Connection's Best Car To Buy 2013 is the new 2013 Ford Fusion.
The Fusion earned the highest rating of all brand-new or significantly updated mainstream vehicles this year, fending off close challenges from the Honda Accord, the Cadillac ATS, and the Cadillac XTS.
As we wrote in our full review, the 2013 Ford Fusion has "rock-star good looks and handling--and it doesn't cheat on room or safety to get them."
We'll admit to falling for the Fusion at first glance. We've looked at it and seen echoes of the Audi 5000, in all the right ways. The elegant roofline and bullish nose take the caricatures of other mid-size sedans and smooth them out into a sleekness that gives us pause, every time.
It's a car so stylish, you can't help but imagine what it's like to drive--and it delivers. There's nothing exotic on its spec sheet, but the Fusion steers briskly, rides firmly, and barely conceals the European-engineered sport sedan hiding behind its American nameplate. It's especially engaging with the available manual transmission: if you've ever loved an entry-luxury German or Swedish sedan, here's your new crush object.
The Fusion's an aesthete and an athlete--and it nails the basics, too. Its back-seat space is a scant second only to the Accord and Passat, and its well-bolstered front seats shame those in the Honda. The rear bench pokes holes in the Chevy Malibu's smaller-is-better argument. The trunk's vast. Safety? It's great in a crash--but we suggest you don't go there.
There's another dimension to the Fusion, too--the Fusion Hybrid and the Energi plug-in hybrid. The gas-electric model picks off the Passat TDI for highway mileage, while the plug-in version promises some pure electric driving and Volt-like MPGe figures, not to mention a scad of luxury features available like blind-spot monitors, a rearview camera, and park assist. And, by the way, did we mention the styling? No hybrid has ever looked this good (the Karma's a range-extended EV, remember), and we're betting no hybrid will even come close, any time soon.The caveats
The Fusion gives car buyers a clear reason to avoid generica when hunting down a mid-size, family-suitable four-door. But it doesn't come without some caveats.
Ford [NYSE:F] has recalled the 2013 Fusion twice already--once for a flaw in headlamp manufacturing, and a second time, for a more serious risk of fire also associated with the 2013 Ford Escape. That recall affects our favorite Fusion, the manual-transmission, 1.6-liter EcoBoost model. It's worth pointing out the recalled engine is an option on any trim where it's available. Other manufacturers competing this year have had their own recall issues, though none have had them in such stark relief--and Ford's experience with the Escape and more distantly, with the 2000 Focus, gave us pause.
The other caveat? The Hybrid Fusion's fuel economy. While it's rated at an EPA-estimated 47 mpg city, highway, and combined, many owners and some publications are reporting their personal experiences differ greatly from those numbers. It's worth noting the dramatic re-statement of gas mileage at Hyundai and Kia earlier this year, which involved many popular models from the past three model years. It's also worth reminding shoppers that automakers self-certify their fuel economy figures, which the EPA randomly re-tests selectively as it sees fit. Whether it will choose to sample the 2013 Fusion Hybrid remains to be seen. For now, we present the official numbers and the conjecture with our advice: if you're fretting over fuel economy that much, wait a few months for the dust to settle.
Neither of these issues changes the chief reasons we want the Fusion in our driveway--for its handling, its excellent front and rear seating, its suave good looks. If so inclined, you can steer clear of the MyFord Touch infotainment interface--or you can embrace it as the future and get used to its complex behavior.
The 2013 Ford Fusion still is priced at a premium over sedans like the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima, the two other highly-rated new family sedans for 2013. It feels premium. The Accord may offer a better ownership experience, and the Altima is less expensive to buy--but neither one gives us a reason to spend more, or to drive more.
The Fusion does. If the choice was ours, we know which one we'd pick--a 1.6-liter EcoBoost manual with navigation, blind-spot monitors, leather seats, a rearview camera and rear parking sensors, all for a little less than $30,000.
And that may be a final caveat: we're car enthusiasts. When a car can deliver on the fundamentals and jolt us into fanboi status at the same time, it beats out the box-checkers, every time.
That's why the Fusion wins.