- Stands out in a bland crowd
- High levels of fit and finish
- Hybrid's soaring city fuel economy
- Fine ride-and-handling blend
- Grille of your dreams, or not?
- Smaller inside than truly large family sedans
- Fusion Sport wants, needs paddles for shifting
- Smaller V-6 is a groaner
The 2011 Ford Fusion comes in a few finely developed flavors; Sport, Hybrid and base are a few of the best tastes.
The Ford Fusion has it all figured out. It's setting sales records even as it hits middle ago, and it's picked up not a little bit of the green sheen that Toyota and Honda have layered on even their least fuel-frugal four-doors.
The Fusion does it with a canny mix of American style and global-think green-ness. There's no mistaking its brash chrome-barred grille as anything but pure Detroit--even while its downsized and hybridized four-cylinder engine turns in faultless city fuel economy on a par with Honda's hybrids.
The four-door Fusion sits at the smaller end of the American family-sedan spectrum, which means it's a bit less spacious than vehicles like the Malibu and Accord. It's a keeper anyway, since the seats are ample and well-shaped.
The smallness helps the Fusion feel more alive than either of those larger sedans, anyhow. Its electric power steering is tuned for fun along with fuel economy, and it rides with the carefully judged responses of a more expensive vehicle.
There's a flavor of Fusion for most any tastes, but the base four-cylinder car is a pretty faultless commuter choice. The Sport brings with it the better of the two optional V-6s. The Fusion Hybrid? It's nearly in a class of its own, though Hyundai's competitive, and quite sexy, Sonata also offers a Hybrid that turns in 40-mpg fuel economy (highway, instead of city, in this case).
2011 Ford Fusion
It's holding up well with the years, but you'll have to love the 2011 Ford Fusion's big, slatty grille and high-grade interior to overlook its more tepid sideview.
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.
2011 Ford Fusion
Sharp road manners set the 2011 Ford Fusion aside from some of the family-sedan stalwarts.
The 2011 Ford Fusion's performance choices come in a few flavors: frugal, coarse, fine or green.
The Fusion enters the family-car battle with a standard 175-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual transmission. This base drivetrain has a fine feel, but adding the six-speed automatic to the package actually improves fuel economy--and this year, gets more responsive with the addition of a manual-mode button on the gear lever. In older Fusions, the selector left direct gear choice at the hands of the transmission, not in the hands of the driver. For our drivers, a set of shift paddles and true manual mode is the logical next step.
Opting up to the 3.0-liter V-6 gives you 240 horsepower and flex-fuel capability, but less refined noises and responses than you'll find in the Fusion Sport's 263-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6. This six improves acceleration quite a bit, and the standard six-speed automatic does a fine job of staying with your driving demands, not lagging behind. Fuel economy suffers, of course, with city economy dropping to 17 mpg, if you also add on the optional all-wheel-drive system.
The Fusion Hybrid combines the best fuel economy of the Fusion lineup with quick acceleration. The Hybrid teams a 156-horsepower four-cylinder with an electric motor running at the equivalent of 40 horsepower, for a total of 196 hp. It achieves Ford's best EPA rating with a 41-mpg figure for city driving, and has an EV-only model that allows the sedan to run off battery power alone up to 47 mph. It also has seamless hybrid driving feel, with little of the overly electronic, jerky feel that can overwhelm acceleration and braking.
All Fusions have electric steering, and it's among their best attributes. It can help improve fuel economy, too, but in this sedan, electric steering has given the Fusion part of its personality. It's a little hefty, quick to turn in and responsive around the steering-wheel clock, all of which imparts a nimble feel. The Fusion's ride quality is also nicely sorted out, with a little firmness taking the sting out of bumps, but less body roll than you'd find in some sporty cars.
The four-cylinder model can be entertaining all on its own, but a Fusion Sport with the bigger, better V-6 is an interesting option. It gets its own tauter suspension tuning, and its V-6 also has the manual gear selection button. It's extremely well tied-down in a way you'd never feel in the Toyota Camry.
2011 Ford Fusion
Comfort & Quality
Improved quality and a quieter ride make the 2010 Ford Fusion even more appealing to consumers looking for upscale quality at bargain prices.
It doesn't sport the largest interior, by the numbers. However, the 2011 Ford Fusion arranges its interior space better than most family sedans, with plenty of storage and good level of fit and finish.
In the driver's seat, the Fusion benefits from a slightly lower driving position than you'll find in the new Hyundai Sonata, for example. The front passengers have plenty of leg room, if the center console spreads a bit wide against inboard knees. The telescoping steering wheel and well-shaped seats make it simple to find a good driving position, while still leaving enough leg room for adults in the back.
The back doors open wide, to ease entry and exit. The Fusion does have a bit less rear-seat leg room than the sedans at the large end of the spectrum, like the Honda Accord. But the Fusion's space isn't cramped, and the seat cushions don't sit too low and tilt enough to ensure back-seat comfort. Fitting a third adult across, though, is an exercise in cramping.
Trunk space is also on the compact end of the four-door scale, at under 12 cubic feet, but the space is regular in shape, and the load floor is low. The Fusion's cabin storage amounts to a small bin in the center console, a deeper glove box, and pockets in the doors.
The Fusion Hybrid has large battery packs mounted in the rear, so it doesn't have the fold-down rear bench seat of other models, and trunk room is reduced slightly.
2011 Ford Fusion
The NHTSA hasn't scored it yet, but the 2011 Ford Fusion has a strong crash-test history and some advanced safety options.
The 2011 Ford Fusion incorporates the latest safety gear and advanced structural engineering to create an incredibly safe sedan, but revised federal safety standards have left some of its scores off the tally sheet.
In 2010 the Fusion achieved top scores in most categories of testing from the federal government: five stars for front impact protection, along with a five-star rating for front side impact, though it earned four out of five stars for rear side-impact protection. This year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has changed its testing criteria, and as of yet, it hasn't tested the Fusion.
For 2011, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also has changed its ratings. However, it's already awarded the Fusion its Top Safety Pick award, figuring in the sedan's crash tests and its performance in a roof-crush test.
Standard safety features on the Fusion include dual front, side and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control; and active headrests. The Fusion is unique in the family-sedan class with its safety options list, which now includes a rearview camera, as well as blind-spot monitors.
2011 Ford Fusion
The 2011 Fusion hasn't adopted the newest on-screen features found in other Fords, but it's smartly decked out with SYNC and other features.
The 2011 Ford Fusion lineup spans a broad swath of the family-car segment. There's an inexpensive base version, a Sport model, and a top-line trim with all the goodies--even a Hybrid edition.
Base features on the Fusion include air conditioning; power windows, locks and mirrors; a tilt/telescoping wheel; an AM/FM/CD player with an auxiliary audio jack; and split-folding rear seats. A choice of manual or automatic transmissions, four- or six-cylinder engines, and front- or all-wheel drive is spread across the five model lines.
At the top of the range in terms of features are the Fusion SEL and the Fusion Hybrid, which both have leather seating; Ford's Bluetooth-enabled SYNC controller; a SecurityCode keyless-entry pad; and 17-inch wheels.
Options on the Fusion include a rearview camera with output displayed either in the rearview mirror or in the optional navigation system; Sirius Travel Link real-time information, from traffic to weather to sports scores; HD Radio; a moonroof; and a high-wattage Sony audio system.
The Fusion Hybrid also incorporates graphics and displays for fuel economy, battery usage and the SmartGauge system that trains drivers to cruise more efficiently.
Neither version has yet upgraded to the new MyFord Touch system, which replaces the buttons and switches for climate and audio controls with an LCD touchscreen and voice-activation controls. The system isn't universally admired, but it's an unmistakable calling card that has lifted the high-tech appeal of vehicles like the 2011 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers.
2011 Ford Fusion
The 2011 Ford Fusion is the green buyer's choice among the domestic family sedans, with a Hybrid edition and great four-cylinder fuel economy.
With high four-cylinder fuel economy and an available Hybrid option, the Ford Fusion lineup is among the greenest family sedans available.
The gas-only versions, however, settle more into the middle of the pack, since Ford's V-6 engine option drops to 17/24 mpg when it's paired with an automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
That's the heaviest, least efficient Fusion you can buy; happily we can report that front-drive, four-cylinder Fusion sedans with Ford's excellent six-speed automatic are rated as high as 33 mpg on the highway, and we've experienced more than 30 mpg in daily use for these versions.
In the Fusion Hybrid, city fuel economy of up to 41 mpg is possible, according to the EPA. Ford's system is tuned to deliver better gas mileage on the city cycle, whereas other hybrids--like the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid--is engineered to get better highway fuel economy. Knowing your driving styles and driving habits can make a large difference in overall fuel economy, as early as the first showroom visit.