In fact, the 2006 Ford Fusion is the replacement for the outgoing Taurus. The Fusion is smaller than its predecessor and borrows critically-acclaimed design cues from the 427 Concept car that made its rounds on the auto show circuit a few years ago. The Fusion inherits the 427’s distinctive three-bar grille and projector beam headlights, which give the Fusion its distinctive identity and which will filter to all Ford cars and crossovers to make each product wearing the familiar blue oval an instantly identifiable appearance.
The 2006 Ford Fusion is based on a corporate platform that originated with the Mazda 6. (Ford owns a controlling interest in the zoom-zoom Japanese automaker.) For use as Fusion underpinnings, the structure has been stiffened to deliver improved ride and handling characteristics. Ford is packaging the Fusion with your choice between two powerplants; a 2.3-liter DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder or a 3.0-liter DOHC 24-valve V6. The four-cylinder delivers 160 horsepower and 156 lb.-ft. of torque while the V6 produces 221 horsepower and 205 lb.-ft. of torque. Choosing the four-cylinder engine offers you the choice of either a standard five-speed manual transmission or the optional five-speed automatic. Sorry enthusiasts, the V6 only comes with a six-speed automatic. Every Fusion is equipped with rack-and-pinion steering and an independent suspension with 24mm stabilizer bars front and rear. The six-cylinder adds a one-millimeter thicker bar at the rear. Four-wheel-disc brakes are standard; ABS with electronic brake-force distribution is available as an option. Ford does not offer stability control on the 2006 Fusion, a huge oversight and competitive disadvantage.
Inside, Ford offers eight decor options and four distinct treatments for the instrument panel. Color choices for seating are light gray, tan or black. Instrument panel options are grained plastic, faux carbon fiber, fake wood, or black lacquer plastic. The door panels and dashboard are covered in soft-touch materials and every Fusion gets integrated cruise-control switches on the steering wheel, power door locks with remote keyless entry, power windows, and power mirrors. Optional upgrades include a height adjustable driver’s seat, a tilt and telescopic steering column, heated seats with six-way adjustment, and a six-disc in-dash CD changer that is also is MP3 capable. Creating a spacious interior was a priority for Ford, and the cargo area is big, too. The Fusion seats five comfortably and the trunk has almost 16 cubic feet of space that’s easily accessed thanks to a low liftover height. This sedan easily meets the requirements of a small family.
Ford has a lot riding on the Fusion, which is available in basic S, mid-grade SE, and top-level SEL trims. To help you decide whether the company has gone far enough to deserve a second-chance at the midsize sedan market, we borrowed a Fusion SEL equipped with a four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, and a sticker price of $22,830 to offer our insight and perspective on whether or not Ford has struck gold with the 2006 Fusion.