2010 Ford Fusion: In Its Basic, Non-Hybrid State
March 17, 2011
No, that isn't our Ford Fusion Hybrid in the midst of the Mauna Ulu lava field in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Driving there is a bitch, so I flew and rented (quite thankfully) a 2010 Ford Fusion for my vacation on Hawai'i last week.
It's one thing to be impressed by the Fusion in its top-dog Sport or Hybrid trims, but a car's true merits are often best seen in its more basic form. No leather, no Sync, no navigation, no fancy-pants hybrid gauges, no fancy-pants hybrid system, no Sport steering, no Sport engine and no Sport suspension. This was the Fusion most people will buy, and you know what? It's damn good.
The suspension still strikes an excellent balance between ride and handling. The steering, though electric, transmits a surprising amount of information (Ford is the EPS champ as far as I'm concerned). The seats are superb and the driving position is as tall-friendly as it gets. The interior is well constructed of the same high-quality materials that go into our top-dollar Hybrid. The engine's power is about what you'd expect from a four-banger family sedan, but its fuel economy is exceptional. I managed 28.6 mpg during my week -- lots of reasonable Hawaiian highway speeds but also lots of hills/volcanoes.
Even without all our Hybrid's luxury equipment, my rental Fusion SE (second in the line-up after the S) came with foglamps, a six-way power driver seat, steering wheel audio controls and a six-speaker stereo with an aux jack and satellite radio (not that the latter works in Hawai'i). Besides perhaps an outside temperature gauge, I wasn't really missing anything and a 2010 Fusion SE would only cost $21,615.
Now, let me compare my rental Fusion to the Toyota Camry LE 4Cyl that stopped by the office a few weeks ago. Its interior (like every current gen Camry I've driven) was filled with mismatched plastics in varying shades of grey with giant panel gaps and sharp flashing. There was even some glue residue on a door panel. The switchgear is flimsy, the seats are flat and the new car smell has this awful chemically floral quality to it. Yuck. I'd love to tell you how it drove, but I can't. Don't remember, or rather, chose not to remember. That Camry LE cost roughly the same as my Fusion rental, but it definitely shouldn't have.
All told, I'm convinced that giving the midsize family sedan crown to the Ford Fusion back in July 2009 continues to be the correct one. At the very least, it continues to be the one I'd choose even though the new Sonata and Optima may look better, offer a bit better value and have engines that are certainly champs. It's a push in most other areas, but the Fusion's just better to drive and that's still my top priority.
And frankly, I'd rather have a Fusion SE than our Hybrid. It's cheaper, lighter, the gauges aren't crazy, the brakes aren't all hybrid-regenerative weird and it still gets great gas mileage.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor, Aloha!