What's New for 2013
The 2013 Ford Fusion Energi is an extended-range, plug-in version of the Fusion Hybrid.
Able to combine excellent fuel efficiency with relatively strong performance and wrap it up in handsome styling to boot, the Ford Fusion Hybrid is certainly impressive. The 2013 Ford Fusion Energi is even more so, as it uses plug-in hybrid technology that allows it to run solely under electric power for about 20 miles before changing over to normal hybrid operation. This engineering attribute allows it to achieve an EPA combined rating of 100 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), which makes it one of the most fuel-efficient midsize sedans in all the land. For comparison, the Toyota Prius Plug-In rates 95 MPGe and the Chevrolet Volt earns 98 MPGe.
One needs to know, however, that "e" estimate relates to when the Energi is running in full electric mode. After that, it gets about the same mileage (47 mpg) as the regular Fusion Hybrid. Sounds like a win-win to us until you consider the cost. This latest perk in powertrain technology doesn't come cheap, as the entry-level 2013 Ford Fusion Energi lists for around $8,000 more than the Fusion Hybrid when new.
Of course, the Fusion Energi shares most of the pluses and minuses of Ford's recently revamped midsize winner. Among the former are that snazzy styling, a roomy cabin, relatively spirited performance and polished driving dynamics. There are also plenty of available high-tech features such as adaptive cruise control, automated parking assist, blind-spot detection, the Sync voice command system and the latest generation of MyFord Touch.
In the final analysis, the 2013 Ford Fusion Energi is a remarkable car, yet we still find it hard to recommend over the highly regarded Fusion Hybrid it's based on given the sizable price difference. That said, early adopters who don't mind spending the extra green to be extra green will find the Energi compares favorably to its few rivals in this new segment. Although the 2013 Chevrolet Volt offers twice the electric-only range, it only seats four and those in back will find cramped quarters compared to the Ford. The 2013 Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid costs less and offers a comfortable and spacious cabin, but its shorter electric-only range (15 miles) and inferior interior quality may turn off those willing to pay for something with more style.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Ford Fusion Energi is an extended-range (plug-in) hybrid that comes in two trim levels: SE Luxury and Titanium.
The SE Luxury comes loaded with 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, heated front seats, driver memory settings, keypad entry, cruise control, dual-zone air-conditioning, rear air ducts, power front seats (eight-way driver with lumbar and four-way passenger), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer and a 110-volt household-style power outlet. Electronic features include the Sync voice-activated audio and cell phone interface, the MyFord Touch electronics interface (with 8-inch central LCD touchscreen and two 4-inch configurable gauge cluster displays) and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB interface.
Options on the SE Luxury include the Driver Assist package (automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers, a blind-spot warning system, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and lane assist), rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, remote ignition and a sunroof. Also optional are a navigation system, an automated parallel-parking system (with front parking sensors) and adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake support.
The Titanium adds the following to the SE Luxury's standard features: a rear spoiler, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, front sport seats and an upgraded audio system with 12 speakers. Optional features mirror those of the SE Luxury, except of course where they are already standard.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Ford Fusion Energi has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor that's fed by a lithium-ion battery pack. Combined, they produce 188 horsepower that's sent to the front wheels through a specialized continuously variable transmission (CVT). The battery pack is considerably larger than the one in the standard Fusion Hybrid, which allows the Energi to be propelled for up to 21 miles purely on electric power.
According to the EPA, the Fusion Energi achieves a combined MPGe of 100 miles, but as stated earlier that's when it is only running via electric power. Once that electric range is used up, it operates like the standard Fusion Hybrid, which earns EPA estimates of 47 mpg city/47 mpg highway and 47 mpg in combined driving. Think of it this way. If you drove around 68 miles a day and recharged the Energi at night, you would only use about a gallon of gas a day.
The 2013 Ford Fusion Energi comes standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front seat side airbags, front knee airbags and side curtain airbags. The Ford Sync system includes an emergency crash notification feature that automatically dials 911 when paired with a compatible cell phone. Also standard is Ford's MyKey, which can be used to set certain parameters for teen drivers.
Optional equipment includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, driver drowsiness detection, lane-departure warning, lane assist (it automatically helps the driver keep the car in its lane) and collision warning with brake support.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside the Fusion Energi's cabin, high-quality materials show Ford's continuing dedication to improving the passenger environment. The dashboard and center stack are uncluttered and tastefully designed, although this look can also come across as a bit austere and uninviting, especially with the all-black interior.
With the highly adjustable power driver seat and tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, just about everybody should be able to find a comfortable driving position. The passenger seat is just as supportive, while the split-folding rear seats are well contoured and have plenty of legroom. You may assume that the Fusion's swoopy styling would cut down on rear headroom, yet it is comparable to its competition, with enough clearance for normal-size adults. Outward visibility to the front is relatively unhindered -- something that's becoming increasingly rare in today's vehicles -- thanks to the Fusion's slender front roof pillars.
The MyFord Touch system is an interface that consists of a main display and supporting gauge cluster displays along with touch controls, steering wheel buttons and the Sync voice control system. It's a smart idea in theory, and it does provide some nice customization possibilities. Unfortunately, there's a learning curve involved for the user, and even with Ford's recent updates we've found the system sometimes slow to respond and the icons difficult to locate and press while on the move.
Another downside to the Fusion Energi is its small trunk. Due to the larger battery pack, luggage capacity is just 8.2 cubic feet, or about half that of the regular Fusion.
Although we have yet to drive the 2013 Ford Fusion Energi, the similar Fusion Hybrid has impressed us with its comfortable and controlled ride and agile handling. Indeed, in testing we found the Fusion Hybrid handled as well as many so-called sport sedans in both the slalom and skid pad exercises.
While electric-assist power steering systems typically lack feel, the Fusion's is remarkably communicative and one of the better versions of this new industry-wide trend. As with most hybrid cars, acclimating to the Energi's electricity-regenerative braking feature in everyday driving takes a little time, and inching either forward or backward into a parking stall takes a delicate touch on the brake pedal.
Extensive acoustic insulation throughout the Fusion line has made good on Ford's promise of a quiet cabin. Cruising at 70 mph, the Fusion is luxury-car quiet. It is only at full throttle, when the gas engine is working hardest, that the hybrid versions of the Fusion become louder than a non-hybrid Fusion.