Full 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid Review
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid is fully redesigned, while the 2013 Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid is essentially the same vehicle with supplemental at-home or station charging.
For those who are looking for a driving experience beyond the norm for midsize sedans, plus luxury car options and head-turning looks, a test-drive of the all-new 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid should be on your to-do list. The Ford Fusion has been one of America's most popular midsize sedans of late, and with this year's complete redesign of its mainstream four-door, the Dearborn company hopes to push the car to the top of shoppers' lists.
The 2013 Fusion Hybrid first entices with its handsome styling. A bold grille, curvaceous sheet metal and a slightly longer and wider body give the new Fusion a sportier and more upscale look than its predecessor. Underneath, the Fusion is based on a new "world-car" platform from Ford that offers more structural rigidity for both enhanced safety and improved driving dynamics. And while the Fusion's exterior dimensions grow only slightly, the interior expands noticeably to better accommodate passengers.
Ford has also improved the Fusion Hybrid's fuel economy. The 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid has a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (replacing last year's 2.5-liter engine) as well as a new lithium-ion battery pack that's more powerful and lighter than the previous nickel-metal hydride battery pack. The EPA now estimates the 2013 Fusion Hybrid will earn 47 mpg in all three cycles: city, highway and combined -- a rare achievement considering most hybrids do their best work in the city. Also, this EPA-estimated fuel economy is better than that of the popular Toyota Camry Hybrid.
Ford is also anxious to name the forthcoming 2013 Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid the most fuel-efficient midsize car in the world. Although the official tests from the EPA to verify the claim are still pending, Ford anticipates the Fusion Energi will achieve greater than 100 MPGe (the official EPA mile-per-gallon equivalency for electric vehicles). If achieved, this would indeed put the Fusion at the top of the list ahead of the Toyota Prius Plug-In (95 MPGe), the Chevrolet Volt (98 MPGe), and even the all-electric Nissan Leaf (99 MPGe). We'll see.
Technology is at the forefront of the 2013 Ford Fusion's redesign. Notable Fusion features include adaptive cruise control, automated parking assist, blind-spot detection, the Sync voice command system and the latest generation of MyFord Touch. The latter is a new addition to the Fusion and utilizes a customizable touchscreen display to control many of the Fusion's electronic features. It's a cool feature in theory, but we've found MyFord Touch to be finicky to use, although it has been improved in this newest iteration.
Even so, the Fusion Hybrid's newfound combination of excellent fuel economy, sharp styling and feature content have placed it as our top pick for a midsize hybrid sedan for 2013. We also like the Toyota Camry Hybrid, although it's not as enjoyable to drive and its fuel economy isn't quite as good. The Volkswagen Passat with the turbocharged diesel engine (TDI) is another alternative, though the Fusion would again be our choice. Overall, the 2013 Fusion Hybrid is a must-see for hybrid shoppers and perhaps even those just looking at midsize sedans in general.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid is available in two trim levels: SE and Titanium.
Standard equipment on the SE includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, full power accessories, keypad entry, cruise control, dual-zone air-conditioning, rear air ducts, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat, the voice-activated Sync audio and cell phone interface and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, auxiliary audio jack, USB and iPod connectivity.
The Appearance package (Equipment group 504A) adds 18-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler, foglights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and special cloth upholstery. The Luxury package (Equipment Group 505A) adds auto-dimming mirrors, leather upholstery, heated front seats, driver memory settings and a power-reclining passenger seat. Opting for the Technology package equips the Fusion Hybrid with the MyFord Touch electronics interface (with 8-inch central LCD touchscreen and two 4-inch configurable gauge cluster displays), an upgraded version of Sync, a media hub (two additional USB ports, SD card reader and RCA video input jacks), a rearview camera and a 110-volt power outlet.
Springing for the top-of-the-line Titanium effectively gets you the SE's optional features listed above as well as remote start, sport front seats and an upgraded Sony 12-speaker audio system (with HD radio).
Optional on both trims is a sunroof as well as the Luxury Driver Assist package. The latter includes automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers, a 110-volt power outlet, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-departure warning/lane assist. The SE (with the Technology package) and Titanium can also be equipped with a navigation system, an automated parallel-parking system (with front parking sensors) and adaptive cruise control (with collision warning system and brake intervention).
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Fusion Hybrid has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine joined to 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).
According to the EPA, the Fusion Hybrid achieves an estimated 47 mpg city/47 mpg highway and 47 mpg in combined driving. That's the best of any midsize hybrid sedan and just a few mpg lower than the vaunted Toyota Prius.
In Edmunds track testing, the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid posted an 8.4-second time to 60 mph, placing it alongside the Kia Optima Hybrid and Toyota Camry Hybrid in acceleration. While this is not a record-breaking performance, it is on the quicker end of the spectrum for hybrid sedan acceleration. High-performance hybrids from BMW, Infiniti and Porsche are much quicker, but the Prius and Honda Insight are significantly slower.
The 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid 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 and lane assist (it automatically helps the driver keep the car in its lane), and collision warning with brake support.
In Edmunds testing, the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid stopped from 60 mph in 132 feet, which is a little longer than average for its class.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside the 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, 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. One might think that the Fusion's swoopy styling would cut down on rear headroom, but headroom is comparable to its competition, with enough clearance for normal-size adults. Even outward visibility to the front has been improved thanks to the new Fusion's relatively slender front roof pillars.
The MyFord Touch system is new to the Fusion Hybrid this year. As is the case in other Fords, this interface consists of a main display, supporting gauge cluster displays and the ability to input commands for various audio, phone and navigation functions via voice (Sync), touch controls or buttons on the steering wheel. 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 somewhat slow to respond and the icons difficult to locate and press while on the move.
Finally, choosing a Fusion Hybrid over a standard Fusion means no loss of passenger space. Both have the same interior measurements but one: trunk space. The Hybrid's checks in at 12 cubic feet (4 fewer than the non-hybrid 2013 Fusions), but that's still on par with the trunks of other midsize hybrid sedans.
The previous-generation Ford Fusion Hybrid was one of the better-handling models in its class while still boasting a comfortable and controlled ride, and the 2013 Fusion Hybrid improves upon this performance thanks to a more sophisticated suspension design. In our testing, the Fusion Hybrid handled as well as many so-called sport sedans in both the slalom and skid pad exercises.
While we've typically found electric-assist power steering to be notably lacking in feel, the Fusion's is remarkably communicative and one of the better versions of this new industry-wide trend. The Fusion's handling is also at the top of its class.
As with most hybrid cars, the task of adjusting to the electricity-regenerative braking feature in everyday driving requires 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 low levels of road and wind noise. At a 70-mph cruise, our tests showed the Fusion Hybrid to be luxury-car quiet. The one measure where we found the Fusion Hybrid louder than a non-hybrid Fusion Titanium was at wide-open-throttle when the engine is working hardest.