Thursday, April 18, 2013

2013 Ford Fusion: Style and Fuel Economy in a Midsize Sedan

Over the past few years, Ford has managed to avoid having to take the government bailouts that its two U.S. counterparts accepted and overhauled its vehicle lineup to create a more fuel-efficient and stylish stable of cars.

As evidence of success in the latter task, witness the 2013 Ford Fusion.

This midsize sedan has always been fairly popular among consumers, with its reasonable price tag and solid reliability ratings.

But its design could never really be described as head-turning.

The ’13 model, though, takes aim at that challenge.

The recent success of the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata has raised the stakes in the midsize game. Now, it’s not enough to merely have good fuel economy and enough room to seat a handful of folks.

You’ve got to bring a little flavor to the table.

So Ford is serving a Fusion with a sleek hexagonal grille that tapers seamlessly to its headlights, a forward slashing side body line and a stylish rear that melds the trunk area nicely with its back window.

The Fusion’s base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 170 horsepower. But Ford has also dropped its EcoBoost turbo technology into a pair of Fusion engines, including a 1.6-liter four-cylinder that makes 179 horsepower and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 237 ponies and can be had with all-wheel drive.

Both a six-speed automatic transmission and a six-speed manual (in the 1.6-liter) are available.

Each engine choice garners admirable fuel economy numbers, with the base model getting 22 mpg city, 34 highway, the 1.6 getting 25 and 37 (manual) and 23 and 36 (automatic) and the 2.0 getting 22 and 33. If you want even bettter fuel economy, check out the Fusion Hybrid, which makes 47 mpg combined city and highway.

The interior design is neat and certainly not gaudy. And Ford likes to boast of the technology it offers with the SYNC and MyFord Touch systems. The former is pretty good, and collaborates nicely with your smart phone to deliver information and calling services. But the latter can be a bit frustrating, as it is a touch-pad matrix of controls that isn’t easy at first to understand, then even afterward, can be difficult if you prefer the ease of using buttons.

Ford’s recent resurgence has, unfortunately for buyers, also resulted in a steady uptick in vehicle prices for the Blue Oval brand.

The Fusion starts at around $23,000 and ranges to nearly $35,000.

Compared with its competitors, the Fusion might not present the most solid value play.

But for a stylish sedan that gets good fuel economy, the Fusion is definitely worth a look.

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