2013 Ford Fusion

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“Fusion” – the process or result of joining two or more things together to form a single entity.Fusion lead

It’s a fair description – of the car.

Technically, the Ford Fusion is mid-sized, but it’s larger than several others in its class and its interior is as roomy in many respects as a full-sized car’s.

Though marketed as a family car, it’s got an Aston-Martin looking silhouette and – when equipped with its optional 2 liter turbo engine – gets to 60 about as quickly as my late-70s V-8 muscle car did when it was new.

But unlike my late’70s V-8 muscle car, the Fusion is capable of up to 37 MPG. So it’s also economical.

And affordable. Just over $21k to start – about $24k well-equipped.

FWD – or AWD.

Turbo’d – or not.fusioneco

Hybrid drivetrain, if you want that – with a plug-in version on the way.

Lots of possibilities – in one car.

WHAT IT IS

The Fusion is Ford’s bread-and-butter mid-sized sedan, comparable in size/layout/price to a Honda Accord or Chevy Malibu, but also sporty – like the Kia Optima.

It’s available with an economy-minded 2.5 liter engine or a performance and economy-minded turbo 2.0 engine. There’s also an even more economy-minded (and also turbocharged) 1.6 liter engine with automatic start-stop to conserve fuel.

FWD is standard – with AWD available optionally.

Prices start at $21,700 for a base S with 2.5 liter engine and top out at $32,200 for an AWD equipped Titanium.

There is also a hybrid version of the Fusion ($27,200) with a plug-in version ($38,700) of that model coming out later this year.

WHAT’S NEWfusion dash

The 2013 Fusion is all-new. In addition to the updated body and interior, there have been major changes to the layout and drivetrain. The new car’s wheelbase is much longer – 112.2 inches vs. 107.4 inches previously – and the formerly optional 3.0 and 3.5 liter V-6 engines are gone, their place taken by a more efficient turbo four.

Power/performance are down somewhat, but the upside is superior gas mileage across the board.

The 2013 Fusion also edges close to being a near-luxury car. Last year’s top-of-the-line Fusion Sport just barely crested $27,000. The 2013 – when fully optioned out – can sticker close to $34,000 or in the same ballpark as a Lexus ES350 ($36,100) and more than a BMW 3 (base price $32,550).

WHAT’S GOOD

Dramatic styling.

Improved fuel efficiency.

Bigger outside – roomier inside.P1050011

More engine/drivetrain layout options than competitors – including AWD.

Luxury car equipment and features available.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD

Max available hp is down considerably (240 vs. 263 with the old 3.5 V-6).

Potential down-the-road repair/replacement costs associated with turbocharged engines.

Higher prices across the board – much higher prices for top-trim (and AWD equipped) Fusions.

UNDER THE HOODfusion 1.6

One obvious way the Fusion stands apart from its competitors is the multiplicity of available drivetrain choices. There are three engines, two transmissions and two possible drive layouts (FWD or AWD).

For a little perspective: The 2013 Kia Optima ($21,200-$26,800) is FWD only, comes only with one transmission – an automatic – and offers two engines. The just-redesigned Honda Accord sedan ($21,680-$33,430) likewise is FWD only – and only offers two engine choices (though you can choose either manual, automatic or CVT automatic transmissions).

The base Fusion S and next-up Fusion SE come standard with a 2.5 liter, 175 hp engine – a carryover from last year. Gas mileage is, however, slightly better (and slightly worse) than before: 22 city, 34 highway vs. 23 city, 33 highway previously.

In SE Fusions, you can opt for either of two optional engines – both turbocharged. The 1.6 liter turbo engine is designed to provide on-demand power comparable to or even better than the base 2.5 engine, but significantly better gas mileage by dint of being almost 1 full liter smaller and thus, using less fuel during normal, low-load driving. It also uses auto-start-stop (engine automatically turns itself off when you come to a stop, then restarts itself just as automatically when you push down on the gas pedal) to squeeze as much distance as possible out of every gallon of gas.Fusion ecoboost

When paired with the six-speed manual transmission the 1.6 liter engine is capable of 25 MPG in city driving and 37 MPG on the highway. With the optional six-speed automatic, which has a standard D mode as well as an S Sport mode – this drops slightly to 23 city, 36 highway.

This gas mileage advantage is, however, somewhat negated by the $795 extra you’ll pay to get the 1.6 liter engine vs. the standard 2.5 liter engine.

Also, there’s the Kia Optima – which comes standard with a 200 hp 2.4 liter engine that returns 24 city, 35 highway – damn close to the Fusion’s best-case. And for just over $21k, too.

Probably the pick of the litter is the 2.0 turbo engine – optional in SEs and standard in top-of-the-line Titanium Fusions. It makes 240 hp – and though this is 23 hp less than last year’s top-of-the-line 3.5 liter V-6 (263 hp) performance is near dead-heat. Depending on whether you go FWD or AWD, the car will get to 60 in about 6.8-6.9 seconds.

The ’12 V-6 Fusion took about 6.6-6-7 seconds.

However, there’s a big difference, fuel efficiency-wise: The new car with the turbo four and FWD registers 22 city, 33 highway – vs. an unacceptably piggy (given current realities) 17 city, 24 highway for the ’12 Fusion with 3.5 V-6.Fusion 2.0

That’s an improvement. However, Ford’s still got a problem – a Kia problem. The Optima offers a 2.0 turbo engine, too. But it delivers 274 hp, get the car to 60 in 6.5 seconds – and returns 22 city, 34 highway.

On the other hand, the Optima’s FWD-only. As is the Honda Accord. And the Nissan Altima. Ditto the Chevy Malibu – and the VW Passat.

The availability of AWD continues to be a Fusion selling point in a segment where FWD is the rule – and AWD the exception.

Subaru’s Legacy does come with AWD – standard – and with a base price of just $20,295 (much less than the cost of an AWD-equipped Fusion). However, the Subaru, though a nice car and a good value, is also slightly smaller and less roomy than the Fusion and – with its standard 2.5 liter engine – is slow (0-60 in 9.4 seconds) and with its optional 3.6 liter engine, thirsty (18/25).

ON THE ROADFusion road

I test-drove a Fusion with the 1.6 liter turbo engine – which, like other members of the new crop of small-displacement, economy-minded, power-on-demand turbo engines, gives little indication it is turbocharged. And that’s exactly what’s intended. The 1.6 responds very much like a naturally aspirated (not-turbocharged) 2 liter-ish four cylinder engine in terms of thrust delivered and how it’s delivered. It’s not fierce – or sudden – thrust. Just sufficient thrust – consistently provided. When you give it gas, the car moves. There’s no momentary pause or stutter before the turbo boost comes on. No flat spots down low. No turbo whistle, either. Much less a boost gauge.

Probably the only way you’ll ever know there is a turbo under the hood is if it craps out on you eight or ten years from now – and that would be my chief worry with this engine or any similar engine from any other manufacturer. I am sure Ford has done extensive durability testing and the 1.6 (and 2.0) engine have been designed to go for probably 200k-plus without such problems cropping up. But the real world is not the same as manufacturer test-loops and durability trials. Only time will tell. Same goes for the auto start-stop feature that can ordered with the 1.6 engine to maximize the fuel efficiency potential. Stopping/restarting the engine perhaps a dozen times in the course of every morning’s drive may for the next eight, ten or twelve years may – or may not – have long term durability/cost implications, both for the automatic start-stop system itself as well as for the engine. (When it’s off, there’s no oil pressure; repeated start-stop cycles may result in more rapid wear and tear). Again, we won’t really know until these systems have been out in the real world for 8-10 years of normal street driving.fusion side

My main issue with the 1.6 engine, though, is that it’s about $800 extra. Yes, it’s more economical to operate than the standard 2.5 liter (non turbo) engine, but not by all that much: 25 city/37 highway (w/manual transmission) vs. 22 city, 34 highway.  That roughly 3 MPG advantage certainly matters as far as the government’s pending CAFE edicts – especially the 1.6 engine’s highway number, which meets and beats the 35.5 MPG CAFE requirement. But is it worth $800 extra to the buyer?

On the  other hand, there’s no denying the merits of the new 2.0 turbo engine. It maintains the performance level established (and so, expected) by the old 3.5 liter V-6 while heroically reducing the cost of partaking of that performance. There is almost a 10 MPG difference between the old 3.5 V-6 and the new 2.0 turbo. And that is definitely worth it, however you measure it.

My only gripe is you can’t get a manual transmission with the 2.0 engine – which Ford should consider offering, I think, given the sporty nature of this car.

Seats are superb – and sightlines forward and back are good. But like all new cars I’ve driven lately, visibility to the side is somewhat impaired by thick B pillars (there to meet the new federal roof crush mandates). The ride quality is quiet and cush. The new Fusion feels very much like a full-sized car.

Which it almost is.

AT THE CURBfusionfront

Back in the ’90s, Ford bought up controlling interests in premium marques such as Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin. These brands were subsequently sold off, but clear evidence of the influence can be seen in current Ford vehicles such as the new Fusion – which looks more than a little like an Aston Martin. At least, when viewed head-on. The grille shape and overall themes are strikingly similar – and well-executed. It’s not cheesy in the way certain early Kias (as an example) tried to look like Bentleys, kinda sorta.

The Fusion looks handsome – and its nominally mid-sized proportions have been stretched to near full-size proportions, too. The new car rides on a 112.2 inch wheelbase, nearly five inches longer than the ’12 Fusion’s 107.4 inch wheelbase and 2.2 inches longer than the Kia Optima’s (110 inches), nearly 3 inches longer than the new Accord’s (109.3 inches) and almost four inches longer than the Subaru Legacy’s.

It’s bigger inside, too.Fusion interior

Front seat headroom has been upped to 39.2 inches from 38.7 previously – and there’s two full inches more front seat legroom (44.3 inches vs.  42.3).  Rear legroom has also been increased by more than an inch (38.3 inches vs 37.1 previously).

To put this in some perspective, the nominally full-size Chrysler 300 sedan has 38.6 inches of front seat headroom and 41.8 inches of front seat legroom. One of the few areas where the “full-size” Chrysler beats the “mid-size” Fusion is backseat legroom, where it has 40.1 inches.

The only car in its class that offers more front seat legroom is the Kia Optima – with an incredible 45.5 inches. However, the Optima’s back seats are really tight: 34.7 inches of legroom, 3.6 inches less than in the Fusion.

The Ford also has a big car trunk – 16 cubic feet (just slightly less than the 16.3 cubic footer in the Chrysler 300 and much more than the 14.7 cubic footer in the Subaru Legacy – and more than the Optima (15.4 cubic feet) and Accord (15.8 cubic feet) too.

THE RESTkeypad

A really neat – and unique – feature the Ford offers is a touch keypad entry system located on the side pillars. Enter your code and the car unlocks. You literally can’t lose your key – unless you forget your code.

Though nominally a bread-and-butter family kind of car, the Fusion offers a horn o’ plenty of high-end gadgetry, including adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, automated park assist, Sync voice command of the infotainment stuff and owner-customizable MyFordTouch LCD display that allows you to configure many of the car’s systems according to your personal preferences. The MyTouch systems also includes multiple USB ports, an SD card reader and RCA video jacks. Top-of-the-line Titanium models get a premium HD Sony audio system and 12 speakers on top of this, plus 18 inch wheels (19s are optional) heated leather seats and multi-zone climate control AC.

The entry-level Fusion is still well-equipped – and a very good deal. But the new roster of equipment and features offered (or included) in higher-trim and higher-cost Fusions edges the car into the entry-luxury segment in every way except for status. Ford seems intent on upmarketing the Fusion – but it remains to be seen whether people will pay almost-Lexus money for a Ford.

Taking this a little further:Fusion AWD

The AWD that makes the Fusion fairly unique in its segment is only available with the high-trim Titanium Fusion with 2.0 turbo engine – which has a base price of $32,200. Last year, you could buy a V-6 equipped/AWD Fusion for about $28k. That made it a bargain. The new one is nice – but isn’t.

A bargain, that is.

At $32k to start, an AWD-equipped Fusion Titanium costs the same (virtually) as a new BMW3 sedan ($32,550). Granted, the base BMW is not AWD – but you can get that (AWD) for not much more: $34,550.

And now, you’ve got a BMW.

No offense meant to Ford. But I think it’s risky for them to have priced the Fusion in such company. Americans are a status-conscious lot, like it or not. A car can be an excellent car, but if the brand doesn’t have the snob appeal to go with its price tag, it can be trouble.

Just ask VW.

THE BOTTOM LINEfusionEP

My only major complaint is that AWD is now a high-cost option. Other than this, the new Fusion is a must-see/must-drive in its segment that gives you more car – literally – for about the same coin.

And in a very attractive package.

Throw it in the Woods?

 

 

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  24 comments for “2013 Ford Fusion

  1. Chas
    February 15, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    I doubt the 1.6L turbo has better fuel economy real world than the 2.5L. There is a $2K charge to change out the timing belt on the 1.6L. I don’t know why anyone wold want it especially for the $800 premium. The 2.5L is pretty good since it was made by Mazda.

    How did it handle? I would just get an Accord but you can only get a black interior and 3 ugly colors and no leather if you want a manual. The car companies are trying to get people away from manuals and into awful turbo engine gas hogs to gain EPA credits/avoid EPA fines. The EPA test cycle favors turbo engines but the EPA cycle is nothing near how people drive. It is a criminal enterprise and a joke like everything from the scum-paraite voters and their political psychopaths.

    • February 15, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      I agree, Chas – especially now that you bring up the $2k timing belt job!

      On handling: It’s not a wallowy/bouncy car, or too firmly cinched down. The Accord probably has a slightly higher threshold of grip and slightly more precise steering (my subjective take on the latter) but not enough that you’d really notice it. The Ford has excellent seats – very supportive, yet also giving (long trips). Again, that’s a subjective.

      Which would I pick?

      Probably the V-6 Accord. Not so much for the hp but for the long-term durability. My personal bet that a turbo four will be more expensive – and less reliable – after 100k or so. Ford (and everyone else) says these engines will go 200k on a stand. But I’m more concerned about what they’ll do in real world/everyday driving….

      • Chas
        February 15, 2013 at 7:24 pm

        The Accord V6 uses a timing belt as well. Consumer Reports just tested a bunch of these little turbo cars and they don’t get near the EPA mileage as well as Ford’s hybrids. The Camry and Accord with V6 are getting better overall mileage that those little turbo i4! The Toyota and Honda V6 engines are superb and the Toyota uses a timing chain.

        The stop/start system with a turbo engine? What if the turbo is hot and it is constantly stop/starting? Engine oil coking on the turbo bearings makes me wanna go “Hmmmm”. Maybe that problem has been solved.

        I need to drive the new Fusion, the Accord steering was too soft but good and accurate. The CVT on the Accord was pretty good as well. No real engine scream/no acceleration like on the Nissan i4s. Still there but tolerable on the new Accord CVT.

      • cobra
        February 16, 2013 at 12:53 am

        The “belt issue” popped up in my head recently.
        Since I am a long distance commuter in search for the best car, I realized that only Nissan, Mazda and the Ford Focus seem to have chain driven engines, among the cars I considered.
        Maybe this should be a subject for one of your next articles…

        • February 16, 2013 at 11:04 am

          Hi Cobra,

          It is definitely an important factor to consider – especially in cases where the change interval comes up fairly early/frequently (e.g., every 75,000 miles). If you have to pay to get the job done – as most people do – that’s a (typical) $800-plus job every “x” miles. If you have to get it done 2-3 times during the course of the vehicle’s life, it can add a couple thousand dollars to the total ownership costs that would not apply if the car didn’t have a belt that needed periodic replacement.

          This, by the way, is one of the reasons why I chose the four cylinder engine for both my Nissan Frontier pick-ups over the optional V-6.

        • Chas
          February 16, 2013 at 12:24 pm

          The new Ford EgoBoost 1.0L has a timing belt that is oil lubricated and supposed to last the “life
          ” of the engine. I think they are going to put it in the Fiesta this year. For a lond distance commuter, I would go with the Accord i4 CVT…Those are getting 40 mpg on highway! You can’t do better than that at $20K!

          • February 16, 2013 at 12:29 pm

            Ah, but what is the definition of “life of the engine”!

            I worry less about the timing belt than I do about the turbo. Replacement costs – if replacement becomes necessary – may render an otherwise sound car economically unfixable. Few people are going to put $2-$3k for a new turbo into an eight-year-old car with a book value of $6,000.

          • Chas
            February 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm

            Life of Engine = 150K miles minimum.

            Todays engines should be able to go 1M miles easily with zero maintenance except oil and filter changes. Why buy “risky” high maintenance engines?

            I don’t do turbo lag and I hate the non-linear power delivery. I want the car to do exactly what I tell it to do. The turbo bearing coking from stop/start system would worry me. When excellent engines from Honda and Toyota are better in every way than the little turbos, it makes zero sense to by the EgoBoost.

          • February 16, 2013 at 1:11 pm

            I’m uploading a video walk-around of the Fusion – it should be live shortly.

          • February 16, 2013 at 1:36 pm

            Here it is:

        • Doug Shaw
          February 24, 2013 at 2:10 pm

          My ’04 Accord 2.4L employs a timing chain. I don’t know if this is true in later versions.

      • Chas
        February 16, 2013 at 9:25 pm

        Try Accord’s new 4 cylinder with the manual. The new engine is not quite as smooth as the last one but in return you get more mid-range torque. It might be enough for you.

        • February 16, 2013 at 9:36 pm

          I’ve got a ’13 Accord scheduled for a few weeks from now – so, we’ll see!

    • BrentP
      February 16, 2013 at 6:25 am

      I was at the Chicago auto show tonight and saw the cut away of the 1.6L eco-boost. I don’t see why the belt would run two grand to replace unless the engine has to be removed to do it. The engine is physically rather small. It would have be packed in there such that access is completely blocked.

      • February 16, 2013 at 10:40 am

        It’s pretty tight. I still have the car – so I’ll take some close-ups of the engine so you can see. It might be possible to do the job with the engine in the car, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it turned out it was necessary to pull it – the entire engine/transaxle – to do so.

        • chiph
          February 17, 2013 at 9:56 pm

          Even if the timing belt runs around an engine mount (like some older Mazdas) it still shouldn’t cost $2000 to replace. Maybe $1000, but I would think it’d be in the $800-900 range like most other cars.

          And that’s including replacing the water pump & tensioner, which should be done anytime you’re in the area (cheap insurance).

        • Grant
          February 23, 2013 at 8:16 pm

          You don’t have to pull the engine. I happen to work in a Ford service department and the the labor time is only about 4.5 hours. But there are a lot of cheats out there. My sister in Miami got quoted 1000 dollars for a timing belt on her focus. Even at 120 and hour and replacing all the pulleys also it souldn’t have been morew than 750 at the most

  2. February 16, 2013 at 1:47 am

    I’d just get the Accord with V-6 too. Probably more reliable. More pride of ownership too, at least IMO. The 2013 Accord, with fairly subtle body changes, has transformed from slightly ugly, to fairly good looking.

    The Camry “would” be on my short list too….except that it is still incredibly ugly.

    The Fusion sure looks great from the front. From that 3/4 view pic you have posted, the side and back are nothing special.

    Ford will sell a decent amount of Fusions. But I don’t think this car is going to Rock The Market.

    • February 16, 2013 at 10:59 am

      If the Accord V-6 could still be had with a six-speed manual (in the sedan) it’d be a no-contest contest for me.

      These micro-engine turbo fours give me the heeby jeebies. I like an understressed (and simpler) engine. Because I’m the kind of guy who wants – who expects – 15-plus years out of a new car before major repairs become necessary. I’d rather have a a large four or six that maybe gets 3 MPG less than a small turbo four – but which has no $3,000 turbo to crap out on me after 100k or so… and which isn’t “maxed out” giving me adequate power to accelerate/pass.

      • BrentP
        February 16, 2013 at 4:45 pm

        I was noticing a certain disposibility of the cars this year. It seemed more than usual. Not like the old times where it was wear and tear plus the environment that did a car in within a short time, but now that the cars would last an acceptably long time and then not just not economical fix, but just plain stupid to fix.

  3. Ray
    February 22, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    Looks like a nice vehicle, too bad it’s assembled in Mexico.

  4. Joe
    February 27, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Mr Eric, any chance of doing a review on a 2013 Fusion Hybrid soon? I would be very interested in your knowledgeable opinion.

    • February 27, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      Hi Joe,

      Yep – I should be getting one to test drive within the next month or so.

  5. Chris
    April 28, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Just bought a 2013 ford fusion with the 1.6 eb. I really dont see why the timing belt is that bad. Now there only changed at 150,000 miles. I have a full bumper to bump warrenty to 120k….

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