First Look: 2013 Ford Fusion

Dearborn, Mich. ?? By looks alone, Ford appears to have a major hit on its hands with the new generation Fusion and that seems even more likely when the new technologies and fuel efficiency is factored in.

???? The stylish new Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima have been two of the mid-level sedans that have caught our eye the last couple of years, and they obviously swayed buyers, too, because the sales of those two cars have skyrocketed.? This new Fusion looks even better than those cars, especially in person.

???? Everyone you talk to has a little different perspective of what the Fusion resembles.? We think the front end has a strong resemblance to some of the Aston-Martin models, and that?s a very good look indeed.

???? Everyone you talk to has a little different perspective of what the Fusion resembles.? We think the front end has a strong resemblance to some of the Aston-Martin models, and that?s a very good look indeed.

? ? Chris Hamilton, the chief exterior designer, says, ?The previous Fusion was an easy purchase for a customer to rationalize.? Our design goal for the new car was to give the mainstream sedan buyer a top-drawer visual experience, adding some emotional appeal to an already sensible choice.?

???? In addition to the beautiful front end, the Fusion has a sweeping roofline with a thin rear roof pillar that emulates the elegant four-door coupes created by several luxury brands.? What?s even more exciting, Ford insiders say this is the new Ford global design language for midsize and smaller vehicles ? now they are talking our language.

???? The interior gets a more spacious treatment, thanks to some architectural manipulations and a set of attractive and nicely organized controls.? In general, the Fusion interior looks like it would be in a much more expensive vehicle.

???? However, beauty is much more than skin deep, the biggest news for Fusion is that it?s the first sedan to be offered in a choice of three distinctive powertrains types ? gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid.? The gasoline version comes with three engine options including a natural aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder along with a pair of EcoBoost four-cylinder engines (1.6- and 2.0-liters).

???? These new smaller EcoBoost engines are expected to deliver best in class non-hybrid fuel economy as high as 26 mpg city and 37 mpg highway.? The engines drive the front wheels through six-speed automatic transmissions with manual shift modes, plus the larger 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine will have an all-wheel drive option. ??The transmission used for the 1.6-liter EcoBoost will be the first Ford vehicle to employ an automatic start-stop system. ?It shuts off engine power smoothly when the car is stopped and seamlessly restarts as the driver releases the brake pedal, helping Fusion to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by approximately 3.5 percent.

???? Atkinson 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines power both the Fusion Hybrid and plug-in hybrid.? The super-efficient gasoline engines drive the front wheels through an electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (eCVT).

???? In 2010, the original Fusion Hybrid won North American Car of the Year, and the 2013 Fusion Hybrid builds on that system with all-new lighter lithium-ion batteries developing more power than the previous nickel-metal hydride batteries.? As a result, engineers have been able to raise the maximum battery power speed from 47 mph to 62 mph.? The hybrid is expected to get an EPA rating of 47 mpg city and 44 mpg highway.

???? Shoppers wanting maximum efficiency should be pleased by the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid system, which Ford expects will be the most fuel-efficient midsize car on the market delivering more than 100 miles per gallon equivalency (MPGe) for electric vehicles.? Ford officials expect to achieve eight MPGe better than the Chevrolet Volt.

???? The latest safety and convenience technologies will put the new Fusion on par with more expensive vehicles with available features like a lane keeping system that monitors the vehicles position in its lane and warn the driver before actually applying pressure to the steering wheel to keep the car on track.

???? Adaptive cruise control will automatically maintain a fixed distance from the vehicle ahead and slow the car if a potential crash is detected.? BLIS? (Blind Spot Information System) provides a visual and audio warning to help the driver avoid turning into a lane occupied by another vehicle.? BLIS also warns of cross-traffic when backing out a parking spot.? Then there is active park assist that actually steers the car into a parking spot.

???? Ford has also made a concerted effort to simplify the SYNC and MyFord Touch communications and entertainment systems.? Although we haven?t yet had a chance to experience the latest iteration, Ford officials assure us that the latest systems are much more user friendly.? The systems help the driver keep hands on the wheel and eyes on the road by using voice-controls.

???? ?Our vision for Fusion was clear ? deliver the very best of what ?One Ford? stands for,? said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president of Global Product Development. ?We brought our global teams together around a blank slate with the charge to develop a midsize car with ground- breaking design and jaw-dropping fuel economy ? one that featured technologies to help make our customers safer and better drivers. This car is the result.?

???? We?re certainly looking forward to driving this new Fusion, if it drives half as good as it looks, it should be fantastic.

By Bill and Barbara Schaffer

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