What's New for 2010
The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is a new gasoline-electric variation of Ford's midsize sedan. As with all other 2010 Fusions, the Hybrid benefits from this year's updates, which include more distinct styling and greatly improved interior controls.
If you're interested in a hybrid, your choices are few, far between and very mediocre. There's a reason a certain funky Toyota hybrid hatchback outsells all other gas-electric models combined. Everything else is too slow, too small, too expensive, too rare, not efficient enough or just not a very good car. All those politicians who lambasted Detroit for not making fuel-efficient cars people want to buy may have had a point... until now.
The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is the first hybrid from the U.S. of A that offers a fully functional gasoline-electric powertrain that isn't connected to a giant full-size SUV. Ford's compact Escape Hybrid doesn't meet that criteria because it can't run in full electric mode with the air-conditioning on. The Fusion can. It can also be purchased in all 50 states (unlike the otherwise desirable Nissan Altima Hybrid) and is based on a fun-to-drive family sedan (unlike the Toyota Camry Hybrid). And although its real-world fuel economy isn't quite as spectacular as the EPA estimates would suggest, the Fusion Hybrid is still one of the most frugal gas-sippers you can purchase.
Aside from all its hybrid-related bits and pieces, the Fusion Hybrid is essentially a well-equipped Fusion SEL. As such, it gets all the welcome improvements made for the 2010 Fusion. The exterior styling was made a little edgier (and chromier, thanks to its brash grille) and the interior was given a thorough makeover. Whereas the previous Fusion's cabin felt distinctly dated, the 2010 Fusion features improved interior materials quality and all-new entertainment and climate controls. To this, the Hybrid adds the fancy "SmartGauge" instrument cluster, which consists of two color LCD screens flanking a traditional speedometer. The driver can select among four information modes, most of which have to do with hybrid power flow and fuel economy. One includes animated leaves and branches -- the more economical you drive, the fuller your shrubbery becomes.
Although the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid doesn't avoid the typical price premium over a similarly equipped gas-only version (about $4,000), it betters its meager hybrid competition in more areas than any other rival (including the Altima, Camry and Chevy Malibu hybrids). It is more engaging to drive than all but the Altima, and is more spacious and features a much nicer interior than them all. It also achieves the best fuel economy. Of course, the Prius and Honda Insight achieve better fuel economy, have more cargo space and are cheaper, but they're also much slower, weirder and dull to drive. In other words, your hybrid choice just got a whole lot better.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is a midsize sedan available in a single trim level. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, a keyless-entry security code pad, auto headlamps, foglamps, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way driver and six-way passenger power seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, eco-friendly cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a specialized gauge cluster, the Ford Sync electronics interface (includes voice commands, Bluetooth and iPod control) and a six-speaker stereo with six-CD/MP3 changer, satellite radio and steering-wheel controls.
The Moon & Tune Value Package adds a Sony 12-speaker stereo upgrade and a sunroof. The Driver's Vision Package adds a rearview camera and a blind-spot warning system with cross-traffic alert. Optional leather upholstery is packaged with heated front seats. Also optional is a navigation system with voice-activation, single-CD/DVD/MP3 player (replaces six-disc), 10 GB of digital music storage and Sirius Travel Link, which includes real-time traffic, weather and other information.
Powertrains and Performance
The Ford Fusion Hybrid utilizes a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that produces 156 horsepower and 136 pound-feet of torque. It is paired with an electric motor that helps bumps power output up to 191 hp. Power is sent to the front wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission. The result is a 0-60-mph acceleration time of 8.7 seconds, which is quite swift for a hybrid. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 41 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. The city number is a full 8 mpg better than the Camry Hybrid, although 7 mpg shy of the Prius. As always, your mileage will vary greatly depending on driving conditions and how much lead lines your shoes.
The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and rear parking sensors. A blind-spot warning system and rearview camera are optional. At our test track, the Fusion Hybrid stopped from 60 mph in a tidy 126 feet, which is the best distance we've recorded among non-luxury hybrid cars.
Although the 2010 Fusion Hybrid had not been crash tested as of this writing, the 2009 Fusion posted very strong government crash test ratings, with a perfect five stars for frontal collision protection and front side protection. It earned four stars for rear side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the '09 Fusion its best rating of "Good" for frontal-offset and side crash protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Fusion Hybrid's high-quality cabin features abundant soft-touch materials, and the overall look is austere but attractive. The center stack is a bit button-happy, but it's a significant ergonomic and aesthetic improvement over its dated predecessor. The available Sync system works great, integrating audio and Bluetooth functions with voice-recognition technology to provide easy hands-free operation of cell phones and portable MP3 players. The Hybrid gets its own gauge cluster, dubbed SmartGauge, featuring a pair of color display screens flanking a traditional speedometer. There's a wealth of information displayed and the graphics are pleasant and modern, but it takes some discipline to avoid becoming fixated on the pretty lights.
The Fusion has plenty of space for front and rear occupants. Drivers, in particular, will appreciate the comfortable driving position. Interior storage space is adequate, but typical for hybrid sedans, the trunk is compromised by the car's battery pack. At only 11.8 cubic feet and with no folding rear seat, cargo capacity is still bigger than in the Camry and Altima hybrids, but much smaller than the hatchback Prius.
Other than the Altima Hybrid (which is only sold in nine states), the 2010 Ford Fusion is the most involving hybrid to drive. While we wouldn't go so far as to call it fun, the Fusion Hybrid nevertheless provides ample steering feedback, and body control through corners is impressive. The ride is comfortable and quiet. The Fusion doesn't allow for the same sort of electric-only driving range as the Toyota hybrids, but its electric motor assists the gas engine for a longer period of time, which benefits fuel economy. Like the Toyota hybrids, the Fusion can cruise for a certain range using only power from its electric motor, which benefits fuel economy.
Read our Ford Fusion Hybrid Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test