2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid: Much Gain, Little Hybrid Pain
April 13, 2010
After my first extended stint in our 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, I'm voting this Ford as one of the most livable of hybrid choices. My previous fave, the zippy, but limited-availability Nissan Altima Hybrid is slightly more adept at hiding its electrical heft when the roads get twisty, but in terms of a daily driving, the Fusion Hybrid asks almost nothing of its driver and provides real thrift (we're apes, and are still averaging over 31 mpg).
The knock on most hybrids is that you're always aware you're driving one. Save for the Fusion's silent boot-up, it's one of the most normal cars with an alternative drivetrain. Control-pedal responses are similar enough to a normal car that you're not constantly reminded that weird throttle and brake reactions are just part of the quirky joys of owning a hybrid. In the Fusion, the gas pedal instills a swift and peppy response, and the brakes feel much like a solid, hydraulic-only setup.
There are scenarios where the hybrid drivetrain can still catch you out. For the last inches of parking adjustments, the brakes can be a little touchy. In stop and go traffic, when you prod the car to step off quickly to grab a hole, the electric boost can still be surging while you're already back on the binders. You'll need to be aware the first time you angle for a very finite slot in traffic. Once things get moving, this e-boost is a boon, and the Fusion scoots from 50 to 70 mph in a torquey surge that belies it four-cylinder mill.
Unless you're trying to make serious tracks on twisty roads, most folk will never be aware of the added weight of the hybrid system. It actually seems to pay dividends on the freeway, as ride chop is reduced, and the Fusion happily floats along eating miles. If you do head energetically into the tight stuff, it takes a pretty committed pace before the Fusion starts to feel big-hipped, and the high-efficiency tires are already protesting at that rate.
Like the Altima (9 cubic feet), the Fusion's trunk space (11.8) is reduced by the alt drivetrain, but unlike the Altima (which loses 6 cubic feet to the Fusion's 4.7 cube reduction), the space remains more usable, to the point that most folk might not even notice the smaller trunk. The Ford Escape Hybrid that I wrangled just before the Fusion has more function in this regard, but overall the Escape feels nowhere near as polished. It's this livable sheen that gives the Fusion Hybrid such daily appeal. If you've been hybrid shy because of all the quirks, be sure to take a Fusion Hybrid for a spin.
Paul Seredynski, Executive Editor @ 4081 miles