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2017 Ford Fusion Sport Review: The Ultimate Family Sedan Sleeper?

Horsepower makes everything better and the Ford Fusion Sport is no exception. This quiet family sedan has been transformed into a missile, thanks to a twin turbo V6 and an all wheel drive system ready to launch you and your entire family to 60 mph in only 5.3 seconds. The Ford Fusion Sport faces tough competition in the highly contested midsize sedan market, but the Fusion’s new dose of horsepower and high-end features help it stand out.

Although the Fusion Sport has a spec sheet that reads more like an Audi S4 rather than a midsize sedan, this car was never designed to “take on” established sports sedans. Instead, the Fusion Sport is meant to be fun to drive, but centered around accommodating a family rather than setting lap times around the Nurburgring. When we see a car with a Twin turbo V6, magnetic ride, and all-wheel drive, it’s easy to assume it’s going to be a sports car, but that’s not the case. At a starting price of only $34,000, the Fusion Sport is the best bargain sleeper of the last decade.

When Ford dropped off my purple, I mean Velvet Burgundy, press car I was met with a bit of nostalgia. My first car was a 2004 Nissan Altima with a 3.5-liter V6 sporting 240 horsepower, which seemed like a million to a 17-year-old, and here I am today stepping into a 325 horsepower family sedan. Powerful V6 midsize sedans have been an automotive staple for over 20 years, but their power levels have plateaued over the last decade, until the Fusion Sport shattered the 300 horsepower ceiling.

With 325 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque from its 2.7-liter twin turbo V6 sourced from the base F-150, the Fusion Sport has taken the idea of a fast midsized sedan to another level. All of this extra horsepower is channeled through a Haldex all-wheel-drive system that easily manages the power without a hint of torque steer. This system offers the Fusion a huge leg up against competition that relies solely on the front wheels for their V6 sedans. These front wheel drive rivals may get better fuel economy but they have a very hard time putting the power down and suffer from fun killing torque steer. During hard accelerations with the Fusion Sport, there was never a hint of torque steer or wheel spin as the system easily puts the power down making it useful at every spotlight or highway on ramp.

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Ford added a very interesting magnetic damper system to round out the extra engineering of the Fusion Sport. These dampers can easily manage the 4,000lb body of the Fusion while offering a family friendly ride. Body roll is kept to a minimum without the added harshness of a traditional setup. This suspension also features Ford’s Pot Hole mitigation system, which works quite well from my rigorous testing of hitting every crater in site. It cannot erase every bump, but it goes a long way at improving the ride quality in the real world. This suspension system is the most important feature of the Fusion Sport as it adds to the car’s athleticism, but works just as hard to promote passenger’s comfort.

In addition to the major engineering improvements, Ford has included a sprinkling of passive tech that makes this car easier to drive and a more pleasant place to be. Features you didn’t know you needed like adaptive cruise control or a heated steering wheel are all present and show just how far the humble family sedan has come. The remote start will automatically warm your steering wheel and defrost your windows for you, while the navigation system will display traffic volume or accidents on the center display. Although the center console and Sync 3 is difficult to master at first, after a few days of driving I was able to get the hang of it. In addition to the comfort features, the Fusion Sport also possess some very impressive safety tech to prevent collisions. It uses the front facing radar to detect an impending collision. If a collision threat is detected, the car will beep and flash interior lights to warn you. If the warning attempt fails the car will brake by itself. This feature will not only keep you safe but it will also decrease insurance costs.

With the relentless march of autonomous driving tech, the Fusion Sport also has the ability to not only parallel park itself but also back into normal parking spots. Although I am a firm believer that if you can’t back into a parking spot you probably shouldn’t have driven there, I decided to give this system a fighting chance. The system engages with the press of a button and instructions are displayed on the center console. You simply drive through a parking lot until the car finds a spot it likes. The car will then tell you to pull forward, stop, and then shift into reverse. After shifting into reverse, you release the steering wheel while the car slowly approaches the parking space. My first two attempts resulted in the car scaring the shit out of me and backing into a curb. On my fifth and final attempt, the car did indeed park itself, but right on the line resulting in a few human led corrections.

All of these extra features and horsepower make the Fusion Sport one of Ford’s most exciting sedans to date, but minor issues hold this good car back from being truly great. To start the 6-speed automatic transmission does a decent job of working with you but loathe every single request from the steering wheel mounted paddles. The transmission is clearly the weak link in this superb drivetrain and seems to have trouble coping during hard acceleration runs. Moving on to the interior my biggest criticism of this car lies with the sound of the engine. Having an engine that sounds good is a very important part of the driving experience but, Ford had to turn to a fake engine noise from the speakers as this twin-turbo V6 sounds pretty bad. It’s understandable to add sound as everyone else is doing it; however, Ford chose to play a V8 over the speakers further adding to the charade. If you didn’t know you would probably be okay but it’s something the vexed me all week. Besides the fake engine noise and flawed transmission the Fusion Sport carries over the same gauges from lesser Fusions. This becomes a problem as the tachometer is a small screen to the left of the speedometer and looks like it came from a Gameboy Color. To use digital gauges means going all in like Lexus who uses a high-resolution setup that displays even more information.

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Moving on to the interior my biggest criticism of this car lies with the sound of the engine. Having an engine that sounds good is a very important part of the driving experience but, Ford had to turn to a fake engine noise from the speakers as this twin-turbo V6 sounds pretty bad. It’s understandable to add sound as everyone else is doing it; however, Ford chose to play a V8 over the speakers further adding to the charade. If you didn’t know you would probably be ok but it’s something the vexed me all week. Besides the fake engine noise and flawed transmission the Fusion Sport carries over the same gauges from lesser Fusions. This becomes a problem as the tachometer is a small screen to the left of the speedometer and looks like it came from a Gameboy Color. To use digital gauges means going all in like Lexus who uses a high-resolution setup that displays even more information.

The Fusion Sport may seem like the obvious spiritual successor to the original Taurus SHO, but it’s actually much closer to another Ford Sports sedan, the Volvo S60R. During Ford’s ownership of Volvo, they produced a 300 horsepower sedan with all-wheel drive and adaptive suspension to compete against cars like the M3. A decade later this technology has trickled down to Ford’s average family sedan for a fraction of the price. The Fusion Sport’s formula isn’t new but, it has never been more accessible for the average family.

The Ford Fusion Sport is the perfect commuter car if you’re willing to pay for the extra cost of fuel. It can easily shuttle around four adults without feeling overcrowded and offers the creature comforts needed to keep everyone happy. The new drive train and suspension turn this average sedan into something quite special. This level of performance and tech is new to this segment putting pressure on established competitors who will need to respond with more capable offerings.

 

About Chris Okula - Contributor

Chris was raised on Top Gear and automotive magazines, which still dominate most of his free time today (he is not a fan of the new TopGear). After he graduated from Desales University, Chris started his career in the pharmaceutical industry, but missed writing which lead him to the creation of his own automotive blog. This blog lead him to work with Road & Track and now as a contributor here at Shifting Lanes. In his free time, Chris is constantly on the popular automotive auction site, Bring a Trailer, as well as Craigslist looking for ways to destroy his savings account and skip student loan payments.

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