Full 2011 Ford Fusion Review
What's New for 2011
After last year's extensive refresh, the Ford Fusion sees only detail changes involving standard features for 2011. Blind-spot mirrors and the MyKey system are standard for all trim levels, while one-touch up/down front windows, HD radio and additional power adjustments for the front seats are found on the upper trims. Other changes include a new Luxury package and a standard manual-shift feature for the six-speed automatic transmission.
You remember that overachiever in high school? The honor society kid who did extra credit work even though he didn't need to? That's how it is with the 2011 Ford Fusion. Earlier incarnations of the Fusion already had the basics down, including a pleasant driving demeanor, a comfortable ride and a high level of overall refinement. Last year's makeover of the Fusion vaulted the car to the front of the midsize sedan class, however, with sizable improvements in performance and efficiency. And this year, Ford goes for extra credit by chipping in a few more standard features.
The Fusion earns some of its high marks because of its architecture, which is a slightly stretched version of the first-generation Mazda 6 platform. The Fusion's slightly smaller size than some other sedans doesn't negatively impact interior room, and it gives the Fusion more agility than the norm. For power, there's a fully competitive 175-horsepower four-cylinder base engine, a 240-hp 3.0-liter V6 or a 263-hp 3.5-liter V6 in the Fusion Sport. The midlevel V6 is a bit down on power and acceleration compared to the V6s in most other models, but it still provides decent real-world performance.
The Fusion does have some downsides -- a button-happy center stack and numb steering being the most notable -- but overall the Fusion is very well-rounded. It drives well, is comfortable and has very good safety ratings. On top of this, it also offers Ford's excellent Sync multimedia voice-control system and available all-wheel drive. Certainly, there are other solid picks for a midsize family sedan, including the 2011 Honda Accord, 2011 Hyundai Sonata, 2011 Mazda 6, 2011 Suzuki Kizashi and 2011 Toyota Camry. But no matter which one you end up with, know that a 2011 Ford Fusion is going to earn high marks for you.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2011 Ford Fusion is a midsize sedan available in S, SE, Sport and SEL trim levels. The base S comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, blind-spot mirrors, keyless entry, the MyKey system (limits top speed and audio volume), full power accessories, a trip computer, cruise control, air-conditioning, 60/40-split rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a four-speaker stereo with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The SE adds 17-inch steel wheels (alloy-look covers), foglamps, automatic headlights, dual exhaust tips, a fold-flat passenger seat, an eight-way power driver seat with manual recline and lumbar, steering-wheel radio controls and a six-speaker stereo with satellite radio.
The Sport adds a sport-tuned suspension and steering setup, 18-inch alloy wheels, exclusive styling cues inside and out, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a 10-way power driver seat, a four-way power passenger seat, unique leather-trimmed seats and the Sync entertainment and communications interface. The Fusion SEL adds heated exterior mirrors, puddle lights, a numerical keyless entry pad, ambient lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats and leather upholstery.
Options on the base S are limited to remote engine start (automatic transmission only) and all-weather floor mats, which are available across the lineup. SE options include an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Sync and a sunroof. The Sport model can be optioned with the SEL's standard equipment plus a blind-spot warning system, a back-up camera, a sunroof and a 12-speaker Sony sound system. On the SEL, you can get 18-inch wheels and the sport-tuned suspension by ordering the Appearance package. Optional on Sport and SEL models is a voice-activated hard-drive-based navigation system with Travel Link (includes real-time traffic and weather information).
Other options (depending on trim) include rain-sensing wipers and HD radio. There are also several packages available (depending on trim) that include a Monochrome Appearance package that provides a body-color grille, a rear spoiler and 18-inch wheels. The highlights of the Luxury package include chrome exterior accents, premium leather upholstery (with contrasting stitching/piping), unique alloy wheels and illuminated front door sills. Reverse parking sensors are a stand-alone option on all models except the S.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2011 Ford Fusion features three different engines. The base power plant -- standard on S, SE and SEL models -- is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 175 hp and 172 pound-feet of torque. This mill comes with a six-speed manual transmission by default, while a six-speed automatic with manual shift control is optional.
A 3.0-liter V6 (240 hp and 223 lb-ft) is optional on SE and SEL models, and it's only available with the six-speed automatic. The Sport model comes exclusively with a more powerful 3.5-liter V6 (263 hp and 249 lb-ft). The automatic is standard here, too. All-wheel drive is optional on the Sport and V6-powered SEL.
In testing, we found a V6-powered Fusion SEL went from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, which is a bit slower than most other V6-powered family sedans. Fuel economy ratings for the four-cylinder Fusion with the automatic check in at 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined. The 3.0-liter V6 has a 20/28/23 mpg rating and the 3.5-liter V6 drops to 18/27/21 mpg.
Antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags are standard on all Fusions. In government crash testing, the Fusion earned a top five-star rating for its protection of front occupants in head-on collisions. In the side-impact test, the Fusion earned five stars for front passengers and four stars for those in the rear. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, the Fusion earned a top rating of "Good" in both the frontal-offset and side-impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2011 Ford Fusion's cabin features soft-touch materials and a somewhat austere but attractive design. The center stack is a bit busy, however, with a lot of similar-looking and -feeling buttons. The available Sync system works great, integrating audio and Bluetooth functionality with voice-recognition technology to provide easy hands-free operation of cell phones and portable MP3 players.
There's plenty of room for passengers in the Fusion. While Ford's midsizer isn't the largest car in its class, its generous interior dimensions prove that such sedans need not be as controversially large as the Accord or Mazda 6 in order to accommodate families' needs. A pair of adults will be content in back, and storage space is adequate. The 16.5-cubic-foot trunk is one of the largest around, and the split-folding rear seat enables larger items to be carried inside the car.
The 2011 Ford Fusion is one of the most engaging family sedans from the driver's perspective. Body control through corners is impressive, yet the ride remains comfortable and hushed. The Sport model feels particularly buttoned-down thanks to its sport-tuned suspension. Performance from the base four-cylinder is adequate, and while the revised 3.0-liter V6 is still down on power compared to its rivals, it's plenty capable for most shoppers in this segment. Should you find the 3.0-liter unit lacking, the 3.5-liter V6 is a good match for competing V6s. On the downside, the electric power steering on non-Sport models is light and numb, and the four-cylinder engine makes raucous noises during spirited acceleration.