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Thread: 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2010 Ford Fusion hybrid

    History does repeat itself - with the second go 'round often being an ironic replay of the first.

    Consider: American car companies lost market share in the '70s and '80s to a great extent because they lost consumer confidence. Slipshod assembly, spotty quality control - embarrassing recalls. Buyers came to believe that American cars were second-rate.

    It's happening all over again - only this time, it's the Japanese (and specifically, Toyota) that are falling apart at the seams - with American car companies like Ford standing ready to pick up the pieces.

    And the customers.

    Take a look at the new Fusion hybrid sedan and you'll see why. I'd pick it over a new Camry hybrid (or Prius - gag me!) by a country mile

    My bet is lots of other people will, too.

    WHAT IT IS

    A hybrid gas-electric version of Ford's mid-sized Fusion sedan. Prices start at $27,950.

    WHAT'S NEW

    The Fusion - including the hybrid version - is extensively updated for 2010, with new exterior panels and a redone interior.

    WHAT'S GOOD

    Best-in-class fuel economy (an astounding 41 mpg in city driving vs. just 33 for the Toyota Camry hybrid and 35 for the Nissan Altima hybrid). Things actually happen when you push down on the gas pedal.

    Best (sensible, logical, usable) hybrid gauge cluster on the market.

    A handsome-looking car.

    WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD

    Costs about $1,100 more up-front than an Altima hybrid and about $1,800 more than a Camry hybrid ($26,780 and $26,150 respectively).

    ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

    The Fusion hybrid is powered by a 2.5 liter gas engine and electric motor/battery pack that together produce the equivalent of 191 hp. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is the standard and only transmission.

    While other Fusions offer all-wheel-drive, the hybrid version (like all other hybrids) is FWD-only.

    Acceleration is very good by hybrid standards: 0-60 in around 8.4 seconds, though not as good as the Toyota Camry hybrid's best-in-class 7.6-7.7 second timeslip

    On the other hand, in the category that matters most to people shopping hybrids - fuel economy - the Fusion is the clear winner, capable of 41 MPGs in city driving and 36 MPGs on the highway - compared with the Camry hybrid's 33 city and 34 highway.

    The main reason for the Fusion's significantly better fuel economy potential is that it can run in pure electric (EV) mode at higher speeds (close to 50 mph) than the Camry, which automatically kicks on its gas engine around 30 mph. When the gas engine's not running, it's not using any gas.

    But there's a caveat: potentially better fuel economy. It is possible to get 40-plus miles per gallon in the hybrid Fusion. But to do it, you'll need to adjust your driving style. Meaning - slow and steady (or steady and slow). Accelerate gradually - using the instruments to help you stay in electric-only mode for as long as possible. Pace yourself so that you can avoid as much as possible ever coming to a complete stop. Keep your speed under 60 mph on the highway. Try to drive no faster than 45 mph as much as possible.

    It's definitely doable. Just keep in mind that if you don't, your actual mileage will vary.

    I averaged around 35 miles-per-gallon, according to the car's computer. No doubt this was due to my lead-foot driving habits (the Fusion is very capable of triple digit speeds, just fyi) and also the fact that I live in a rural, mountainous area. Climbing steep grades is not the hot ticket for maximum MPGs.

    Stop-and-go city-type driving is.

    DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

    The thing I appreciated most about the Fusion hybrid is that it doesn't drive like a hybrid. It's not heavy and clunky feeling (like the Prius and to a lesser but still significant extent the Camry hybrid). It has power enough to not feel like you're abusing it just to keep up with the flow of traffic. With close to 200 hp on tap, it actually has a better power-to-weight ratio than many '70s era V-8 muscle cars. The CVT is very civilized - in contrast to the some (many) other CVTs on the market, several of which make more unhappy noises than a stressed-out farm tractor.

    The transition between gas-assisted and pure electric mode is almost completely seamless; but you can keep track of what's happening by watching the vertical bar graph displays in the gauge cluster - which are in my opinion the best hybrid gauges on the market. They're very straightforward; no animated displays - just "up" or "down" depending on how you're driving. You don't have to read a manual to get it; the readouts are immediately understandable.

    Cornering (and stopping rapidly) is also something the Fusion hybrid does more gracefully and even athletically than any other hybrid except perhaps the Nissan Altima hybrid (which has the advantage of being based on the sporty Altima sedan). But the Nissan is currently not available nationwide; it's sold in just nine states that have "California Emissions" laws. So, unless you live in one of these states, the Nissan's not a realistic option. And like the Camry, its fuel economy potential is significantly less (35 city, 33 highway).

    STYLING & UTILITY

    To me one of the attractions of the Fusion hybrid is that it doesn't look like a hybrid - inside or outside. There's no over-teched awkwardness inside (as in the Prius, with its strange, not-easy-to-use toggle shifter and gimmicky displays). Everything is very straightforward, just like in a standard car - with the only obvious difference being the hybrid gauge cluster. There's a central speedometer flanked on either side by the important hybrid readouts, in bar graph form. The most important of these is to the immediate left of the speedometer; it tells you when the car is running in pure electric mode - which you'd otherwise be unable to tell, once the car is moving. The gauge can help you operate the car as much as possible in EV mode, to achieve the maximum fuel-efficiency.

    The Fusion hybrid also has a useable 12 cubic-foot trunk vs. the absurd 10 cubic footer in the Camry hybrid (and the Altima hybrid, too). While 12 cubic feet isn't huge, it's enough to keep you room constantly having to use the back seats to carry home stuff. Ford did a much better job packaging the Fusion hybrid's battery pack than competitors.

    You'll also get more front and back seat legroom in the Fusion than in the Camry - an additional bonus.

    But I'd say the main "utility advantage" of the Fusion hybrid is its potentially superior (by a significant margin) fuel economy potential. Reason? If you drive it right, within two years you'll have erased the Camry hybrid's (and Altima hybrid's) up-front price advantage and from that point forward the Fusion will cost you less to operate every year for as long as you own it.

    Potentially a great deal less.

    Eight miles per gallon extra with every tankful is not chump change - especially if gas prices go back up to $4 per gallon.

    QUALITY & SAFETY

    The plain fact is the Ford is as good a choice - if not a better choice - than the Camry hybrid or other Japanese contenders. The quality control, durability and reliability of Ford vehicles has absolutely caught up to the perceived leaders. It's just that customer perceptions haven't caught up - yet. The good news about that is you can still get a good deal on a Ford; no dealer gouging for full MSRP (and more) as Toyota stores have been known to do. (Though given the recent recall debacle, that's probably history too.)

    The hybrid Fusion comes standard with pretty much all the expected safety equipment - ABS, traction and stability control, side-impact and curtain air bags. The main items not included - but available optionally - are a back-up camera and a blind-spot warning system.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    I generally am not a fan of hybrids; most are too slow - and not nearly efficient enough to justify their higher price point (relative to the standard four-cylinder versions of the cars they're based on).

    But I really liked - and was impressed by - the Fusion as both a hybrid and as a car. It doesn't suck to drive it. And it doesn't suck gas, either.

    Of all the hybrids on the market right now, I'd say this one's not just the best of the lot.

    It's the only one that makes any real sense.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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  3. #3
    But there's a caveat: potentially better fuel economy. It is possible to get 40-plus miles per gallon in the hybrid Fusion. But to do it, you'll need to adjust your driving style. Meaning - slow and steady (or steady and slow). Accelerate gradually - using the instruments to help you stay in electric-only mode for as long as possible. Pace yourself so that you can avoid as much as possible ever coming to a complete stop. Keep your speed under 60 mph on the highway. Try to drive no faster than 45 mph as much as possible.
    That sounds like a REAL PITA to drive like that, finicky. For some reason, since I've been running some Mercedes on WVO even 40 MPG doesn't sound that good. I guess its good for those who are used to getting less than 400 miles on a tank, but I am now used to getting 1,000 miles on a half tank (a little over 100MPG). I don't know maybe its just me, but the whole hybrid thing just doesn't appeal to me. Its good to see the Americans producing a good car again though (you aren't just saying it's good because its American are you?)...I hope not.

    most are too slow
    If you want efficiency then it'll be slow. Its just a matter of how much efficiency you want. That's another thing, no modern car, no matter how slow writers say it is, it just doesn't sound slow to a Merc diesel owner. What makes 0-60 in 8.4 seconds so slow? I would consider slow to be 0-60 in 20+seconds. Damn new cars.

  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dieseleverything View Post
    That sounds like a REAL PITA to drive like that, finicky. For some reason, since I've been running some Mercedes on WVO even 40 MPG doesn't sound that good. I guess its good for those who are used to getting less than 400 miles on a tank, but I am now used to getting 1,000 miles on a half tank (a little over 100MPG). I don't know maybe its just me, but the whole hybrid thing just doesn't appeal to me. Its good to see the Americans producing a good car again though (you aren't just saying it's good because its American are you?)...I hope not.

    If you want efficiency then it'll be slow. Its just a matter of how much efficiency you want. That's another thing, no modern car, no matter how slow writers say it is, it just doesn't sound slow to a Merc diesel owner. What makes 0-60 in 8.4 seconds so slow? I would consider slow to be 0-60 in 20+seconds. Damn new cars.

    I'm not huge hybrid fan, either. They can make sense if you do mostly in-city driving at under 50 mph (the type of driving that optimizes a hybrid's efficiency) and you take into account the lower emissions as well as the improved fuel economy.

    But I prefer a diesel for what I call "real world" driving, which for most people involves at least some fairly regular highway use and speeds of 60 mph or more.

    As far as acceleration: You're right, 8.4 to 60 isn't slow - as such. The problem is you have to take into account the pace of today's traffic, which is much faster than it was in the '70s, to a great extent because modern cars are so much quicker/faster than the cars of the '70s. Anything that needs close to 10 seconds to reach 60 with just the driver aboard will need closer to 11 or even 12 with 3-4 people on board - and that can make for some hairy merges - and make passing all but unthinkable...

    Last item: I call 'em as I see 'em - and the funny thing is I have been accused of having a pro-import bias over the years because I have often been critical of American cars' weak points!

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