As I write this, every fiber of my being wants to go purchase a car. It’s not the car buying experience that I love, it’s the fact that within a few months, I’ll be the proud owner of a shiny new piece of the automotive world that I will have researched all on my own and purchased with unbiased results. This whole process has made me look at cars differently thus far, and I hope some of the coming reviews will aid you in a new purchase or even shed some light on cars in which you are interested.
For the 2013-model-year, Ford came out with a revamped version of their highly successful, mid-sized sedan that’s aptly named the Fusion (known as the Mondeo in Europe). This redesign included a completely new outside appearance along with a total interior refinement. And I must say that this new model is everything a mid-sized car should look like.
The original Fusion debuted in the US in 2006. Hoping to piggy-back on the success of the Taurus during the 1990s, Ford introduced the Fusion as their new mid-sized offering. The Taurus was originally marketed as a mid-sized car (1986-2007), but as the years went on, it got bulkier and larger as most cars tend to do and became a full-size model. When the Fusion was introduced it was an instant hit and garnered praise from major automotive magazines including Car & Driver and Road & Track for being fun to drive and well equipped. The exterior was nothing special. It blended into the mid-size segment very well and acted like it belonged.
This was the problem with the original. It was just there. There was nothing special about it and Ford changed that in 2010. An updated look, but not a complete remodel, brought forth a better, more aggressive and sporty looking Fusion. Especially noticeable in the grille and front hood, the newer shape gave the Fusion an edge over competitors like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Mazda 6. This kept it competitive and in the public eye until the recent, groundbreaking re-design.
When Ford decided to come out with new models in 2012 and 2013, they took on the challenge of meshing all markets into one. Ford now offers looks of the Fiesta, Focus, and Fusion in the same way in all global markets. Something that Volkswagen has done with great success to its entire line of autos. Taking that strategy and applying it to their entire line, Ford hit it out of the park. All of their new cars are sleek and sexy, but sporty and approachable. The Fusion hits on all those points with ease.
The new body, at a cursory glance, reminds me of a 4-door Aston Martin offering. This being apparent in the large-mouthed-bass-like grill. It also helps that Ford owned Aston Martin for a short period of time, clearly stealing and successfully executing styling cues. Any angle I look at this car, I like it. The back-end could use a little work, but for what it is, in the class it’s in, it’s a near flawless exterior. No other mid-size comes close, less the Hyundai Sonata and even that’s pushing it. The Fusion truly fuses classic, sporty, masculine, and mature styling on the outside. It’s aggressive front headlights look angry, but in a good way, and with the optional LED bulbs they look as thought they can light you on fire. Truly the new Fusion is a beautiful machine on the outside.
Unfortunately, that’s where the praise will stop. For the amount of love I have on the outside, I have an equal amount of disdain for the interior. The first thing I noticed when I sat in the drivers seat was the severe lack of space between my right knee and the center console. Now, I’m only 5’6” so I can only imagine what someone 6’2” would feel like. Yes the seats were fully adjustable, but it was not enough to give a comfortable experience. Directly to the right of my right knee, is the cubbyhole that could have been better used to move the center console forward, towards the dash about 4”-5” to give better leg room and added comfort. This space is not easy to get to and doesn’t seem to serve much purpose other than to hold your cell phone. And I wouldn’t recommend placing it there. It would be quite dangerous and is not easily accessible.
From there if you move north, you’ll find the navigation screen complete with My Ford Touch and Sync technologies. Ford has touted these as the best in the business and I had high hopes that this would sway me back towards the Fusion as I could deal with the cramped driving position. Nope. More bad news as the completely confusing (and that’s saying a lot coming form a tech-junkie) and unintuitive controls not only on the touch screen, but also on the wheel and to the left and right of the speedometer, were completely disjointed. It was as if I was attempting to play a video game whilst driving. Even when stationary, it was difficult to fully grasp where the radio was, how to control it, and how to find a proper station. Eventually I was able to figure it all out and with time, I’d be able to master it with ease, but for overall driving experience, I found that this system was a massive disappointment. BMW’s iDrive is easier to understand and the industry pans that as one of the worst systems made. A massive let down for what I was hoping to be the best tech package available.
If you’re saying there must be some redeeming qualities about the Fusion’s interior, never fear, there is in fact one plus. The back seat is spacious and large enough to play a quick match of croquet. That’s about it. From there, I’m afraid it gets progressively worse. The seats felt heavy when the rears folded down and could be quite difficult to manage for the older folks with bad arthritis. The seats themselves held you in place well enough, but did not offer proper lumbar or shoulder support and on a long trip would get uncomfortable quickly. The red stitching on the cloth seats was tacky and I would have gone for the optional leather if it was in my price range. And speaking of price, for what I would be paying if I were to purchase the SE trimmed as tested, it would not have been worth the money. If you can, and if you must purchase this car, go for the titanium level. You will thank yourself. The SE and S are not worth it when better equipped/built cars are out there.
Upon taking it out on the road, The Fusion’s steering felt heavy and laborious. It was as if I was in the brain of a large man, attempting to navigate him through a china shop. I had to be careful and it was all I could do not to hit anything around me. The braking was adequate, but when it comes to the second most important part of your car next to tires, I do not want “adequate.” Ride was smooth, but the rest of the experience wasn’t as pleasant as I had hoped. The entire car just felt chunky, from the indicator stick to the buttons. Also, the door handle was made of a cheap plastic and it felt like that was a common theme throughout the car. For as much time as Ford spent on the outside, it’s as if they completely forgot they had an interior to the car at all.
When driving a car in this class, visibility should be a main priority as safety is one of the main selling points. Ford completely misses this mark. The A-pillars protrude on either side of the windshield towards you, enhancing the claustrophobic feeling originally brought forth by the center console. The windshield itself felt small and my view was obstructed by those damn pillars. The doors were expansive, both inside and out, and even with the seat in the most longitudinally vertical position, I could barely rest my arm on the open window. The door windows themselves felt small compared with the size of the rest of the door. That’s more space poorly used. The rear window was by far the worst as it looked like it was squinting. Ford was trying to provide sports car feel, and that was apparent, but it wasn’t properly executed and did not provide a sufficient view.
The engine was good, I have to say. It had enough power, but I test drove the 2.0L Ecoboost engine. That’s the best engine you can get in this car. I think if I drove the 2.5L inline-4 or the 1.6L Ecoboost, the Fusion would feel very underpowered. The engine note, however, was excellent and by far the best sounding car I have driven (I’ve driven 3 cars as of this post).
Going into this test drive, the Fusion was hands down my favorite family sedan on the market. Now, it’s nothing more than a bulky yet beautiful reminder that you should always drive a car before you purchase. My official scores are below based on a score of 100 in 10 categories. In the coming weeks, I’ll be reviewing many different cars as I inch closer and closer to my new purchase. Stay tuned for some interesting takes, and possibly some surprises.