Full 2014 Ford Fusion Energi Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Ford Fusion Energi is now available with a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats and inflatable (airbag) rear seatbelts.
If there's a holy grail for hybrid cars, it would likely be the ability to combine the top-notch fuel economy numbers everybody expects from a hybrid with attractive styling and relatively normal driving dynamics. The 2014 Ford Fusion Energi just might have found the grail.
This most efficient member of the Fusion midsize sedan line 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 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. At the same time, the Fusion Energi shares the snazzy styling, roomy cabin, relatively spirited performance and quiet and refined ride quality of the rest of the Ford Fusion family. It's also available with the same high-tech features, including adaptive cruise control, automated parking assist and, for better or worse, the latest generation of MyFord Touch.
You should be aware, however, that the "e" in the plug-in Ford Fusion Energi's impressive MPGe estimate refers to the periods when the car is running in full-electric mode. After that, it returns 43 mpg combined fuel economy, or slightly less than the regular Fusion Hybrid (47 mpg). Even then, the Energi sounds like a winner to us until you consider the cost. This latest perk in powertrain technology doesn't come cheap, as the entry-level 2014 Ford Fusion Energi SE Luxury will cost you quite a few thousand dollars more than a comparably equipped 2014 Fusion Hybrid SE. The value proposition for the Energi looks even worse now that Ford has added an even less expensive Fusion Hybrid S model for 2014.
Given the big price difference, the 2014 Ford Fusion Energi is hard to recommend over the highly regarded Fusion Hybrid. 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 plug-in hybrid car segment. The Chevrolet Volt offers about double the electric-only range, but it seats only four, and those in back will find cramped quarters compared with those of the Ford. You could also consider the Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid, as it 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 and substance. Of course, you'll also want to take a look at the 2014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid given its similar price, efficiency ratings and interior room.
Neither the plug-in Fusion nor the Accord makes quite the social statement as the Prius or Volt, but for consumers who want an efficient plug-in hybrid car that looks and drives like a normal midsize sedan in most other respects, the 2014 Ford Fusion Energi is worth a look.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Ford Fusion Energi is a five-passenger extended-range (plug-in) hybrid sedan that comes in two trim levels: SE Luxury and Titanium.
The SE Luxury comes loaded with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, heated auto-dimming mirrors, keypad entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, power front seats (eight-way driver with lumbar and four-way passenger), heated front seats, driver memory settings, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear air ducts, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, 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 keyless entry/ignition, remote start with pre-heating/-cooling of the interior, a heated steering wheel, inflatable (airbag) rear seatbelts, the Driver Assist package (automatic high-beam control, rain-sensing wipers, a blind-spot warning system, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping 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: keyless entry/ignition, remote start with pre-heating/-cooling of the interior, a rear spoiler, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, front sport seats and an upgraded audio system with 12 speakers and HD radio. The SE Luxury's other optional features are also optional here.
Exclusive options for the Titanium include a Premium Leather package and heated and ventilated front seats.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 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. The combined hybrid output totals 195 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 up to 85 mph or for up to 21 miles purely on electric power. However, if you tend to drive aggressively, you'll find that the gas engine will fire up at much lower speeds when the car is in its default EV Auto mode.
In Edmunds testing, we measured consistent 0-60 times at just under 8 seconds, or about a second quicker than a Chevrolet Volt. Incidentally, we also put the Fusion Energi into its EV Now mode (which locks in all-electric operation) and recorded an electric-only 0-60 run at a painfully slow 15 seconds, which is 6 seconds behind a Volt in EV mode. Obviously, the Ford's EV Now mode is not intended for maximum acceleration, but rather for maximum efficiency and is best used in city driving conditions. The EPA gives the Fusion Energi an energy consumption estimate of 34 kWh used per 100 miles (the lower the kWh number here, the better).
Once that electric range is used up after 21 miles, it operates like the standard Fusion Hybrid and earns an EPA rating of 43 mpg in combined driving (44 city/41 highway). Think of it this way: If you drove about 60 miles a day and recharged the Energi at home, you would use only about a gallon of gas a day.
Ford says the battery can be fully charged in 7 hours with a 120-volt power source or 2.5 hours using a 240-volt source. We validated both of those claims, but keep in mind that you will see the cost of plugging in at night on your electricity bill.
The 2014 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-keeping assist (it automatically helps the driver keep the car in its lane) and collision warning with brake support.
In Edmunds testing, the Fusion Energi came to a stop from 60 mph in a segment-average 128 feet. The government gave the Fusion Energi five out of five stars for overall crash protection, along with five stars for frontal protection and four stars for side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the non-hybrid but otherwise similar Fusion the highest possible rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset, side and roof-strength crash tests.
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 an 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 might 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. Visibility to the front is relatively unhindered, thanks to the Fusion's slender front roof pillars.
The MyFord Touch system interface 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 provides some nice customization possibilities. Unfortunately, there's a learning curve involved for the user, and even with Ford's recent updates, we've found that the system requires periodic reboots to maintain functionality. Also, it's distracting to use on the move, because the touchscreen's buttons are small and hard to locate, and the screen is often slow to respond to touch.
The illuminated fender-mounted charge port pulses and adds quadrants of light with the state of battery charging. The MyFord Mobile smartphone app or a computer enables a number of special, remote features: scheduling off-peak home charging at a time of your choosing (may also be selected in-car), pre-heating or -cooling the interior of the car, monitoring and displaying the Focus Energi's state of charge, current driving range and locating charge stations and planning routes to them.
One notable downside to the Fusion Energi is its small trunk. Due to the larger battery pack, luggage capacity is just 8.2 cubic feet, or 4 less than the regular Hybrid and only half that of the regular Fusion.
The 2014 Ford Fusion Energi drives much like the similar Fusion Hybrid. Acceleration is adequate for daily use around town, and there's generally enough power for passing on the highway, too, especially if you plan ahead. We also like how the car is very quiet at highway speeds. As with most hybrid cars, acclimating to the regenerative braking system (which is used to recharge the battery pack) requires a little time, and inching either forward or backward into a parking stall takes a delicate touch on the brake pedal, but the Fusion Energi does a better job of this than many others. Helping with this learning curve is Ford's dashboard braking coach that tells you how much energy you've captured during the last stop.
Compared with the Hybrid, the Energi offers the driver more control of the car's all-electric drive. With the EV mode button, the driver is able to switch the car's operation among three modes: EV Now all-electric (up to 85 mph or for up to 21 miles), EV Auto for normal hybrid power blend (like the Fusion Hybrid) or an EV Later mode that favors the gas engine and conserves battery power for later use.
Thanks to its sophisticated suspension design, the Energi possesses impressive handling and ride dynamics. Driven around turns, the 2014 Ford Fusion Energi is confident and composed, and its steering is remarkably communicative.