The Fusion Energi is Ford's latest entry into the nascent plug-in hybrid segment. In return for a significantly higher price than the standard Fusion Hybrid on which it's based, the Energi offers a larger battery pack that provides 21 miles of electric-only - and emissions-free - driving range.
From the outside, the Energi looks much like the rest of Ford's Fusion midsize sedan range - a bold hexagonal grille, an athletic stance and a coupe-like roofline. Only model-specific wheels and a charging port mounted aft of the left-front wheel hint at the four-door's green credentials.
Like the Fusion Hybrid, the Energi uses a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder that teams with an electric motor and a continuously variable transmission. While the Hybrid makes due with a 1.6-kWh battery pack, the Energi boasts an upsized 7.6-kWh unit that allows it to travel up to 21 miles - at speeds as high as 85 mph - using only electricity.
Due to the extra weight of the battery pack, the Energi can manage "only" 44 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the highway - the Hybrid gets 47 mpg in both cycles. However, for those whose commute is less than 42 miles round-trip, the Energi could conceivably get them to work and back without using a drop of fuel (provided there's a place to charge up at the office). When driven in electric-only mode, the Energi returns a combined 100 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent).
Recharging the Energi's batteries from empty to full takes two and a half hours using a 240-volt charger, or seven hours with a standard 120-volt household outlet.
With a total output of 195 horsepower, the Energi is perfectly capable of holding its own during freeway merges and passing maneuvers, and its responsive handling dynamics make it one of the sportier plug-in hybrids on the market.
The Inside Story
Inside, the dashboard is marked by flowing lines, contoured shapes and plenty of soft-touch surfaces. The instrument panel contains screens on either side of the speedometer that display efficiency-related information. On the left, "SmartGauge with EcoGuide" includes a brake coach function that helps drivers capture the maximum energy possible through regenerative braking, while on the right there's an "Efficiency Leaves"¬Ě graphic that rewards efficient driving with leaves and vines that accumulate over the course of a drive to create an animated forest.
All Energi models come standard with Ford's Bluetooth-based SYNC connectivity system, which allows smartphone uses to place calls and stream music by using voice commands or steering wheel-mounted buttons. It can also read incoming texts aloud to help the driver keep his or her eyes on the road.
Also standard is MyFord Touchy, which builds on SYNC by letting users control everything from navigation to climate control to the sound system with voice commands. MyFord Touch also replaces conventional knobs and buttons with a center-mounted touchscreen and touch-sensitive controls in the center stack. Many consumers report that the system is a "love it or hate it" item, so those interested in the Energi are advised to try before they buy.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Fusion Energi is available in SE and Titanium trim levels.
The SE comes standard with dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo system with an AUX input and SiriusXM satellite radio, SYNC Bluetooth smartphone connectivity with MyFord voice-activated entertainment and communications system, MyFord Touch, a power-adjustable driver's seat, automatic headlamps, LED taillights and 17-inch painted aluminum wheels.
The Titanium features leather upholstery, a 12-speaker Sony audio system with HD radio, ambient lighting, a rearview camera with a reverse sensing system, fog lamps, chrome-accented door handles, a rear deck spoiler and polished 18-inch alloy wheels.
Highlights from the options list include adaptive cruise control and an Active Park Assist system that can steer the car into a parallel parking spot - the driver need only work the gas and brakes.
Driver Assistance Technologies
The Energi is available with a number of driver assistance and convenience technologies designed to make driving a bit easier.
The Lane Keeping System uses a small, forward-facing camera behind the inside rearview mirror to "looks" down the road and monitor lane lines to determine that the car is on course. The system will alert the driver if drowsiness or erratic lane-keeping is detected, use steering wheel vibration to signal that the Fusion is drifting too close to an adjacent lane, or actually apply pressure on the steering to help bring the car back into proper lane.
Ford's Active Parking System makes parking a snap by identifying suitable parallel parking spots and actually steering the car safety into the place while the driver controls the accelerator and brake pedals.
The Blind Spot Information system employs sensors in the rear quarter-panels to warn the driver of vehicles in the blind spot, while Adaptive Cruise Control uses radar to slow the Fusion when slower-moving traffic is detected ahead.
All Energi models come standard with dual front, front knee, front side and side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems, a tire pressure monitoring system and emergency brake assist.
The most direct competitor to the Fusion Energi is the Honda Accord Plug-In Hybrid, which is more efficient than the Ford - both in hybrid and electric-only modes - but offers eight fewer miles of electric driving range. Other rivals include smaller vehicles like the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid and the Chevrolet Volt, the latter of which can travel an impressive 38 miles using solely electricity.