January 08, 2010
This might be two in a row, but don't get cocky; we still run this place with an iron fist. Edmunds.com is not a democracy.
Standing in the face of that stone-faced assertion, however, are our last two Long-Term Road Test picks: first, the 2010 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD and now this brand-new, showroom-fresh 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. In both cases, we were forced to respond to persistent pleading (nagging) by readers who pushed the vehicle in question into the spotlight.
And why not the Fusion Hybrid? The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid represents the coalescence of years of hard work by Ford — by hybrid technology, of course, but also things like interior design and materials, not to mention convenience electronics like Sync. The Fusion Hybrid is no egg-on-wheels that wears its hybrid badge on its sleeve. It's not a Toyota Prius. It's an American sedan that happens to be a hybrid, and it also happens to be the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan, handily outpointing the Toyota Camry Hybrid and even knocking out the Nissan Altima Hybrid.
At first blush, all seems right. It's the right car for the right time from the right company. But our Long-Term Road Test Blog has dissolved more than one incipient love affair.
What We Bought
Right out of the box, the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid has a lot going for it. There's the 156-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-4, 17-inch wheels with 50-series tires, automatic headlights, keyless entry with requisite Ford external keypad, eight-way power-adjustable driver seat and eco-friendly cloth-upholstered seats, plus a super-nifty, hybrid-specific LCD instrument cluster that registers (among other things) power use and your current power draw. The Fusion Hybrid also sports a class-leading 39 mpg average from the EPA, a full 4 mpg better than the Toyota Camry Hybrid. At the same time, this Fusion is also over $1,000 more than the Camry Hybrid, wearing a base price of $27,625.
And that's what we wanted: a base price. Looking for a base-model Fusion Hybrid, however, was easier said than done. Dealers were inflexible on pricing, while the color options (we do have to photograph this thing, after all) were lousy. We don't really like paying sticker price for a car (who does?) and we certainly don't like being forced to drive another silver car if we don't have to. At each Ford dealer we went to, we passed rows of brightly colored well-equipped Fusion Hybrids with big stickers that screamed "Deal!" before we found the usual bargain-basement stripped Fusion Hybrid in silver.
So we changed our strategy at the last minute, added a few thousand bucks to the bottom line and opted for a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid equipped with the "Rapid Spec 502A" package. With a name like that, how could we not agree to the $5,215 premium it carries? (There is a $1,270 discount on this option from the factory, but this is the list price.) But at least for that 5,200 bucks we get a navigation system that we've grown to really appreciate and enjoy in our long-term 2009 Ford Flex, the Driver Vision option group that includes blind-spot monitoring and both a rearview camera and cross-traffic alert, the ever-popular Moon and Tune package (you know, sunroof and stereo), and leather-upholstered seats (the fronts are also heated). Rubber all-season floor mats were already installed and we weren't going to fight over the additional $75. All of this conspires to create a vehicle that will both be efficient in stop-and-go commute traffic and yet enticingly comfortable enough for long trips. And it stickers for $32,370.
But if you're paying attention, you'll remember that we don't like to pay sticker. After some careful shopping and expert negotiations, we drove away from Galpin Ford in North Hills, California, with a Light Ice Blue 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid for $29,796.01. Mission accomplished.
Why We Bought It
While the Fusion Hybrid technically finished second-to-last in the last Edmunds.com 2009 Fuel Sipper Smackdown, falling to smaller and more dedicated foes with far fewer toys, it was the editors' favorite ride in the comparison. The Fusion Hybrid was the one vehicle that made us smile when it came time to drive it over our test loop.
During our Full Test of the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, we were surprised by the car's driving dynamics. We noted, "Based on the reworked 2010 version of the Fusion, the Ford Fusion Hybrid is probably the best-driving hybrid sedan on the market. This means the car asks its driver to make fewer (or at least smaller) sacrifices for its increased efficiency. The basic Fusion chassis is a fine setup, offering good road isolation while delivering confidence-inspiring handling in conditions that would have a Camry tripping over itself." Compared to the Camry, the Fusion Hybrid is athletic; compared to the Prius, this thing is Randy Moss. Compared to the Prius and Camry, however, this thing is also on a Randy Moss salary.
Even with our reservations about price, we walked away convinced that the Ford Fusion Hybrid is the best hybrid sedan on the market and one we'd enjoy living with. And now we've gone so far as to pay the entry fee.
Hybriding Into the Future
We've seen the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid named "Most Environmentally Progressive" vehicle at the 2009 L.A. Auto Show and we've seen it average 81.5 mpg in the hands of seasoned hypermilers. But we haven't seen a Ford Fusion Hybrid every day. Haven't lived with one for a full year. Haven't tested the range and battery life and seamless integration of electric-gasoline motor after 20,000 hard miles.
We've been impressed over the short term, but now it's time to see if the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid lives up to the hype of being the best midsize hybrid available. Follow along on our Long-Term Road Test blog for updates on Ford's Camry killer as we put our hyperbole to the test.
Current Odometer: 1,729 miles
Best Fuel Economy: 35.8 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 30.1 mpg
Average Fuel Economy (over the life of the vehicle): 33.2 mpg
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.