2015 Ford Fusion Driving Impressions

The Ford Fusion feels like a big car on the road as well as in the cabin. Steering is light and comfortable. Handling is solid and on par with our expectations for a midsize family sedan, although, Fusion doesn’t feel as nimble as other cars in its class.

Fusion’s turning circle of 37.7 feet bests the Honda Accord’s 38.1 feet, while both need more space than that required of the Toyota Camry with its 36.6-foot turning circle. Those figures don’t sound that much different but can spell the difference between making a U-turn in one fell swoop versus having to make a three-point turn. Brakes are smooth and confidence-inspiring.

In its base 2.5-liter iteration, the Fusion provides decent, albeit docile acceleration. For more oomph, go for the 2.0-liter turbo.

The 6-speed automatic transmission shifts in all the right places. Titanium models are equipped with paddle shifters for manual gear changes should the driver be so inclined.

Thanks to its electric motor, the Fusion Hybrid offers plenty of pep off the line. The electronically controlled CVT is smooth and seamless, and brakes are firm and responsive, without feeling grabby like many vehicles that use regenerative systems. Its low, grumbly sound is rather unpleasant, however, despite Ford’s attempts to muffle it with acoustic material.

The Ford Fusion Energi is plug-in hybrid that uses the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder found in the Fusion Hybrid, along with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. Fusion Energi is designed to run on pure electric power for short commutes and can be charged using a 120-volt or 240-volt outlet. It has a bigger onboard battery and uses different cells. Ford claims a combined range of up to 620 miles between the battery and the gas tank, with up to 21 miles in all electric mode. It’s EPA rated at 100 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), and allows the driver to choose between three modes: EV Now, EV later and Auto. As the names suggest, EV Now will operate only in all-electric mode; EV Later switches into hybrid mode and saves the battery, and Auto will self-select modes depending on driving demands.

We drove the Fusion Energi SE around sprawling Los Angeles, and found that its EV range lived up to Ford’s claims. On a 19.5-mile drive on city streets, we kept the Fusion Energi in EV Now mode the entire time and brought it back with 3 miles of charge to spare. We didn’t modify our driving style to maximize range, and even passed a few cars with gusto. Although, we kept the A/C off, which helped to stretch our range (Ford engineers say the climate control system is the biggest drain on the battery). This isn’t much of an issue for those living in mild climates like Southern California, but expect performance to drop if you use the A/C or heater frequently.

Regenerative braking systems typically make for a grabby brake pedal feel; not so in the Fusion Energi. The pedal feel was the smoothest we’ve felt in this type of car. The only thing that irked us, besides certain aspects of the MyFordTouch interface, was that startup was completely silent, which created a debate amongst passengers as to whether the car was actually on. However, this characteristic is typical of electrified vehicles.

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