2014 Ford Fusion

Ford redesigned its bread-and-butter Fusion midsize sedan for the previous model year, equipping it with efficient powertrains, a refined interior and a wide variety of infotainment and safety technologies. The blue oval also styled the car with the intention of making it stand out in the highly competitive midsize segment, giving it an upscale, coupe-inspired look highlighted by an Aston Martin-like grille.

In addition to the standard model discussed herein, the Fusion is also available as a plug-in hybrid called Energi.

Recent Changes
For the latest model year, the Fusion gains an economical new 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder as well as several new options - including a heated steering wheel, ventilated seats, inflatable rear seatbelts and an Interior Appearance Package for the Fusion Titanium.

Overview
As with many recent Ford models, the Fusion traces its roots to Europe, riding on a heavily revised version of the previous Mondeo (Ford's midsize old world sedan) platform. With McPherson struts up front and a new multi-link suspension setup at the rear, Ford promises that the chassis provides an ideal balance between ride comfort and agile handling. Exterior dimensions are up only slightly compared to the outgoing Fusion, but a five-inch longer wheelbase allows for a more spacious and practical cabin.

Practicality is not the first thing that comes to mind when viewing the Fusion's fast roofline and athletic profile, however. Inspired by the sleek Evos concept of 2011, the Fusion features a sporty, upswept stance along with a premium look fostered by the sparing but effective use of chrome on the prominent hexagonal grille and along the side windows.

Inside, flowing lines and contoured shapes displace the straight-edged design of the old car. Soft-touch surfaces abound, and the interior is also quieter than before thanks to acoustic underbody shields that also contribute to the Fusion's efficiency-boosting 0.27 coefficient of drag.

All Fusion models come standard with Ford's Bluetooth-based SYNC connectivity system, which allows smartphone users 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.

Optional on mid-level Fusions and standard on high-end trims is MyFord Touch, 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 Fusion are advised to try before they buy.

Powertrain Lineup
The Fusion joins a number of its competitors in eschewing a V6 powerplant in favor of an all-four-cylinder engine lineup in the interest of fuel economy.

While the entry-level engine is a carryover 2.5-liter unit with 175 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque, Ford expects most buyers will choose the new 1.5-liter EcoBoost mill. This turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder produces 178 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque.

Those looking for more power can opt for the 2.0-liter EcoBoost motor, which produces 240 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque.

The 2.5-, 1.5- and 2.0-liter motors all come standard with a six-speed automatic is standard on all engines, but also offers a 1.6-liter EcoBoost with 178 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of twist that pairs exclusively with a six-speed manual.

Front-wheel-drive is the default configuration for the Fusion, while all-wheel-drive is available as a traction-enhancing option.

Fuel economy is rated at 22/34 city/highway mpg for the 2.5-liter mill; 25/37 mpg 1.6-liter unit; 22/33 mpg and 22/31 mpg for the 2.0-liter motor with FWD and AWD, respectively; and 23/37 for the 1.5 when fitted with a start/stop system.

Trim Level Breakdown
The Fusion is available in S, SE and Titanium trim levels.

The entry-level Fusion S, which is fitted exclusively with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder, comes standard with basic features like air-conditioning, power windows, mirrors and locks, an AM/FM/CD stereo with four speakers, cruise control, automatic headlamps, remote keyless entry and Ford's Sync communications and entertainment system.

The Fusion SE adds standard niceties such as 17-inch wheels (the base car gets steel wheels with hubcaps), a 10-way power driver seat, a center folding armrest and A/C ducts for the rear passengers, two extra speakers for the sound system, SIRIUS satellite radio and body color rocker moldings. While it comes standard with the 2.5-liter mill, the SE can also be upgraded with either the 1.5-liter, 1.6-liter or 2.0-liter EcoBoost motors.

The top-spec Fusion Titanium includes the 2.0-liter Ecoboost in addition to a wealth of other standard kit. Highlights from the equipment list include leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable seats, a 12-speaker Sony premium audio system with HD radio, MyFord Touch and a rearview camera.

Options include a navigation system, sunroof, remote start, ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel.

A new Interior Appearance Package for the Fusion Titanium adds premium leather seating surfaces and vinyl door inserts finished in brick red along with premium floor mats.

Fusion Hybrid
The fuel-saving Fusion Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that runs on the economical Atkinson cycle and an AC synchronous electric motor linked to a lithium-ion battery pack.

With a continuously variable transmission sending power efficiently to the front wheels, the setup is good for EPA-certified mileage of 47 mpg in the city and 47 mpg on the highway. Some drivers have reported significantly lower real-world mileage, however, and achieving maximum mpgs requires a very light right foot.

With its gasoline and electric motors working in conjunction, total system output is 188 horsepower.

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" graphic that rewards efficient driving with leaves and vines that accumulate over the course of a drive to create an animated forest.

The Fusion Hybrid is available in S, SE and Titanium trim levels.

The S comes standard with dual-zone automatic climate control, a four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo system with an AUX input, SYNC Bluetooth smartphone connectivity with MyFord voice-activated entertainment and communications system, automatic headlamps, LED taillights and 17-inch painted aluminum wheels.

The SE adds a power-adjustable driver's seat, SiriusXM satellite radio, heated mirrors, rear air vents and a rear seat center armrest.

An optional Hybrid Appearance Package adds 18-inch machined aluminum wheels, a rear decklid spoiler, fog lamps, a leather-wrapped steering whel and charcoal cloth seats with red contrast stitching on the seats, console and armrest. The Luxury Package brings leather upholstery, heated front seats, a power-adjustable passenger's seat, memory functionality for the front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, auto-dimming exterior mirrors and fog lamps.

The Titanium features leather upholstery, a 12-speaker Sony audio system with HD radio, MyFord Touch, 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.

Options include a navigation system, adaptive cruise control, a sunroof, a heated steering wheel and ventilated seats.

Driver Assistance Technologies
The Fusion 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.

Occupant Safety
All Fusion 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.

Key Competitors
The Fusion is aimed right at the heart of the mid-size sedan segment, counting perennial top-ten bestsellers like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord as its main rivals. Its strongest domestic competition comes in the form of the Chevrolet Malibu.

Rivals to the Fusion Hybrid include the popular Toyota Camry Hybrid, the stylish Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and the Kia Optima Hybrid.