Back in 1986, the Taurus was heralded as the car that would save Ford Motor Company. And it did. Now, 20 years later the same monumental responsibility has been thrust upon the 2006 Ford Fusion.
Although its outgoing Taurus sold 6.7 million units in its 21-year run, Ford has never really offered a proper midsize sedan to battle the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, and Toyota Camry -- until now. Positioned with neat alliteration between the Focus and the Five Hundred, Ford hopes the Fusion will bridge the long-standing abyss in the company's product lineup.
A Mazda Underneath Although it's based on a Mazda 6 chassis that has been lengthened over 2 inches and widened over an inch, the Fusion is Ford's first completely digital car, featuring computerized design, engineering and testing. The results, according to Ford, are improved interior and exterior panel fit, tighter tolerances, more efficient aerodynamics, and increased torsional stiffness (by 12.7 percent) without adding weight.
Visually, the Fusion appears smaller than its competitors, though the spec sheet indicates differently. It's greater in wheelbase, overall length and width than the Honda, Hyundai and Toyota.
Inspired by the 427 sedan concept car from 2003, the Fusion's styling is slick and uniform. Body panels are smooth and flush, and come across as looking expensive for the price point. Although its face recalls the somewhat staid Cadillac STS, its clear-lensed taillights are pure 20-something tuner.
Three Models/Two Engines Three models are offered: the base S, which starts at $17,995; the SE; and the top-of-the-line SEL. Each comes standard with the same 2.3-liter, all-aluminum, DOHC four-cylinder that's used in the Mazda 6. It makes 160 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 150 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm and can be paired with a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic.
If you want V6 power you have to step up to the SE model. Its optional 3.0-liter six-cylinder, which is also borrowed from the Mazda, makes 221 hp at 6,250 rpm and zings the price up to $21,275. Although still more expensive and less powerful than a 2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6, the Fusion SE V6 is cheaper than its Japanese competition.
The V6 SEL costs about $22,000 and features 17-inch aluminum wheels, automatic temperature control, upgraded interior trim, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with redundant stereo and climate controls. Add all the stand-alone options and the price can climb as high as $26,000.
Perhaps the biggest foul in the Fusion's specs are its lack of a manual transmission with the V6. Despite this V6 being paired with a five-speed manual in the Mazda, it's only partnered with a six-speed automatic in the Fusion.
Nice and Roomy Fusions come in three different interior color schemes based on trim levels, and our SEL model featured a discreetly tasteful charcoal interior with off-white top stitching and piano black accents. The large analog gauges are also a high point, clearly indicating Ford's desire to step up the quality of its interiors. Seat comfort is also good.
Most textures are nicely finished and the secondary controls are ergonomically sound, though cabin temperature was inadvertently raised on more than one occasion by an awkwardly positioned steering wheel-mounted climate control button. In keeping with the domestic theme of supersized excess, Fusions offer six cupholders for five passengers.
Head and legroom measurements are just within the competition's range, and its 15.8 cubic feet of trunk space places it ahead of the Accord but behind Camry and Sonata in the cargo room department. The Fusion's trunk opening is extra large, however, and its rear seats drop flat with the pull of a lever.
Fusing With the Road During the several hours we spent driving the SEL-trimmed V6 Fusion on North Carolina's winding Blue Ridge Parkway, the car felt well sorted, composed and connected to the road.
Torque peaks at 205 lb-ft at 4,800 rpm, but feels evenly spread across the power band thanks to the V6's variable valve timing. Ford estimates a six-cylinder Fusion can run from zero to 60 mph in the mid-8-second range, which would make it significantly slower than the last V6 Accord we tested, which hit 60 mph in 7 seconds flat.
The six-speed automatic transmission was the weak link in our V6 Fusion's driving dynamic. Though the six-speed automatic offers well-chosen ratios that maximize the engine's torque curve, it often hunts for the correct gear during aggressive driving. Enter a turn with a slight scrub of speed, and the transmission upshifts. Heavier throttle application will eventually kick the transmission down another gear, though it takes a heavier right foot than it should.
Enthusiasts will also no doubt disdain the transmission shifter's single low gear "L" option. A traditional 3-2-1 option would offer more driver control.
Equipped with V-Rated Michelin Pilot tires and the same four-wheel independent suspension as a Mazda 6, we weren't surprised that the Fusion felt stable and handled predictably. Hard driving yielded some understeer, but torque steer is kept in check, and the Fusion was well mannered for a car of its size.
Steering feel is positive at high speeds and the four-wheel disc brakes provide strong stops, though initial pedal feel is a bit soft. Ford engineers indicated that complaints of excessive brake dust and roughness have been addressed, implying that softer pads have been incorporated into the Fusion.
Although the car we sampled had antilock brakes, the feature does not come standard on all models. Instead, it's available as part of the Safety and Security package, which includes side airbags, first- and second-row side air curtains, and an anti-theft perimeter alarm. A traction control system is also optional, but stability control, which is standard on the Hyundai Sonata, isn't available on the Fusion.
The Verdict Transmission indecisiveness and lack of stability management aside, the Fusion is a solid performer that feels well equipped to battle the competition. It's aggressively priced and the top trim levels are nicely finished and appointed. Ford seems to have done its homework and finally produced a car that can compete with the finest from Japan and Korea.
At the end of the day, though, it's the public that will decide whether the 2006 Ford Fusion is good enough to save the Ford Motor Company.
Is the 2006 Ford Fusion a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2006 Ford Fusion and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2006 Fusion featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process All of our reviews are written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
How do people like the 2006 Ford Fusion? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2006 Ford Fusion and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2006 Fusion 4.6 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2006 Fusion.
Review I personally loved the car until I became victim of the 50k + transmission defect. There is a big problem with these transmissions. The car becomes outright dangerous to drive. Symptoms include, violent jerking when trying to accelerate to pass, followed by loss of speed. At times the tranny with simply drop out of gear, as if it went into neutral while cruising along on the express way. That's always fun when there is a semi on your tail. There are ALLOT of complaints to Ford and government agencies, but they refuse to do anything about a known defect in certain transmission that is extremely unsafe.
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What options are available on the 2006 Ford Fusion?
Available Ford Fusion 2006 Submodel Types: Sedan, Hybrid
Available Trims: SE, S, Titanium w/EcoBoost, Titanium, SEL, Sport w/EcoBoost, SE w/EcoBoost, SPORT, Hybrid
Exterior Colors: Ingot Silver Metallic, Shadow Black, Magnetic Metallic, Ruby Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Oxford White Clearcoat, Tuxedo Black Metallic, White Platinum Metallic Tri-Coat, Sterling Gray Metallic, Burgundy Velvet Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Lightning Blue, White Gold, Deep Impact Blue Metallic, Deep Impact Blue, Steel Blue Metallic, Guard Metallic, Black, Blue Metallic, Red Candy Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Bronze Fire Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Dark Side, White Suede, Sunset Metallic, White Gold Metallic, Oxford White, Tectonic Metallic, Tuxedo Black Clearcoat Metallic, Bordeaux Reserve Metallic, Sport Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Sterling Gray Clearcoat Metallic, White Suede Clearcoat, Black Clearcoat, Redfire Clearcoat Metallic, Blue Flame Metallic, Brilliant Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Sangria Red Clearcoat Metallic, Smokestone Clearcoat Metallic, Silver Birch Clearcoat Metallic, Dune Pearl Clearcoat Metallic, Vapor Silver Clearcoat Metallic, Alloy Clearcoat Metallic, Cinnamon Metallic, Dark Blue Pearl Clearcoat Metallic, Dark Ink Blue Clearcoat Metallic, Atlantis Green Clearcoat Metallic, Charcoal Beige Metallic, Merlot Clearcoat Metallic, Moss Green Clearcoat Metallic, Ginger Ale Metallic, Light Sage Clearcoat Metallic, Silver Frost Clearcoat Metallic, Titanium Green Clearcoat Metallic, Tungsten Silver Clearcoat Metallic, White Platinum Tri-Coat Clearcoat
Interior Colors: Charcoal Black cloth, Ebony leather, Charcoal Black leather, Medium Light Stone cloth, Medium Light Stone leather, Dark Earth Gray leather/suede, Medium Soft Ceramic leather, Dune cloth, Earth cloth, Ebony cloth, Ebony premium leather, Dune leather, Charcoal Black premium cloth, Charcoal Black premium leather, Charcoal Black w/Black Inserts leather, Camel cloth, Camel leather, Ginger premium leather, Brick Red premium leather, Charcoal Black w/Sport Blue Inserts leather, Medium Light Stone premium cloth, Medium Soft Ceramic premium leather, Camel premium cloth, Charcoal Black w/Alcantara Blue Suede Seat Inserts and Stitching leather/sueded microfiber
Popular Features: Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Rear Bench Seats, Trip Computer, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Alarm, Aux Audio Inputs, Tire Pressure Warning, Stability Control, Power Driver Seat, Bluetooth, USB Inputs, Post-collision safety system, Back-up camera, Auto Climate Control, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Heated seats, Parking sensors, Leather Seats, Remote Start, Navigation, Keyless Entry/Start, Upgraded Headlights, Sunroof/Moonroof, AWD/4WD, Upgraded Engine, Upgraded Stereo, Mobile Internet, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Cooled Seats, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking, Pre-collision safety system