Automakers are in the business of making money. Building cars and trucks is merely the tool they use to keep the dollars rolling in. For most manufacturers, the sweet spot in their lineup lies with the mid-size segment because there are a whole lot of greenbacks ready to be spent by the car buying public. For years this segment was dominated by a select few. Now, however, the mid-size segment is the best it’s ever been and competition is especially fierce.
Names like Camry, Accord, Sonata, and Altima seem to sit on the tips of tongues when this mid-size discussion begins. Ford is eager to be a major part of that discussion, and to that end the automaker has completely redesigned the Fusion for the new model year.
The 2013 Ford Fusion has arrived just in time to do battle with the best that Japan, Korea, and its U.S. counterparts have to offer. The problem for everyone else? The 2013 Fusion might the best of a really good bunch.
For the new model year, Ford has ditched the popular SEL trim in order to clean up and simplify the Fusion family tree. The base model is the 2013 Fusion S, which starts at $21,495. It’s equipped well enough, but the real features start arriving when you jump up to the Fusion SE. That trim starts at $23,700, and features power-adjustable seating, the Ford Sync system, and keyless entry. A Hybrid SE is offered, which returns 47 miles per gallon on both the city streets and the highway, and that model starts at $27,200. At the top of the tree sits the 2013 Fusion Titanium and it will cost you at least $30,200. The Titanium Fusion has all of the bells and whistles, and easily pushes the car past entry-level and on into the world of premium vehicles.
The 2013 Ford Fusion slots neatly into the mid-size segment, which means it lines up grille-to-grille with the likes of the Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, and Honda Accord. Additionally, the Korean kissing cousins of the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata are also on the playing field vying for your bucks. Compared to all of the mid-sized players, the Fusion offers a hefty dose of exterior style that is hard to match. The only vehicle that comes close is the Sonata, and that pushes the boundaries a bit for some with its polarizing exterior shape.
On the inside, the Fusion doles out a hefty dose of top-notch interior amenities as standard features. Nearly everyone in the segment sits in the same pricing zone, but some offer more than others and the Fusion sits on the more side of the fence here. Beyond that, it’s also near the top of the list when it comes to driving enjoyment. The Accord and Altima line up wheel-to-wheel with the Fusion from a driver’s seat happiness viewpoint thanks to the solid steering feel and sporty suspension.
There’s no question that the immediate visual impact provided by the 2013 Ford Fusion is quite stunning. This car is a looker, and it invokes visions of far more premium machines. Starting up front, the nose is reminiscent of products that are hand-shaped by gents in Aston Martin coveralls. When the eye slides down the middle of the Fusion, images of German sedans begin to float in the brain, and it wouldn’t be crazy to compare this section of the roofline with the Audi A7. Finally, the rear adds a dash of Italian flare because the taillights are similar in style to those found on any modern Maserati, when viewed in profile.
When your car can combine the best of British, German, and Italian styling, you know the designers did something very right. The Fusion is the best looking car in its class… hell, it’s the best looking car in a lost of classes.
While the outside has flare, the inside tones it way down. Instead of swooping, elegant curves, we’re provided with a flat slab-like center stack that feeds into the rest of the instrument panel. It’s 2001: A Space Odyssey meets the Blue Oval brand. We’re not dealing as much with form inside as we are presented with function.
The best part about the cabin space has to be the very comfortable seats. Ford stuffed the thrones with as much padding as accounting would let them get away with, then stuffed some more in once the bean counters turned their backs.
Ergonomically, everything falls within quick reach of the driver and front passenger. Still, we’re still not head-over-heels with regards to the Ford MyTouch system. The screen response needs to be quicker with regards to reacting to a press from the finger. It’s nice to have the audible beeps for on-screen presses, but we’d also like some feedback for the buttons not placed within the confines of the screen. There is no feel to these “buttons” so we have to take our eyes off the road to make sure we’re even touching anything.
The entry point into the Fusion world goes through the S model, which is powered by a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine. It produces 175 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque, and it’s paired with a six-speed automatic gearbox. Ford doesn’t expect that to be the volume selling machine though, because just one step up puts a 1.6-liter turbocharged EcoBoost mill under the hood of the Fusion SE. This torque happy unit pumps out 178 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of thrust from just 2,500 rpm. Like the base engine, it’s also paired with a six-speed automatic but you can also opt for a rather slick-shifting six-speed manual gearbox.
If you’re interested in getting the greatest driving range out of your Fusion, you’ll want to opt for the Hybrid. This green-tinted machine makes use of a combination gas-electric powertrain that helps it return class-leading fuel economy. We’re talking about a very impressive 47 miles per gallon in the city, on the highway, and in combined driving.
If you jump all the way up to the Fusion Titanium, you are rewarded with V6 power in an I4 package. Ford has equipped this model with the 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost unit, which produces 240 horsepower and a tire-chirping 270 pound-feet of torque. Only a six-speed automatic is offered here, but you can shift the gears yourself by way of the paddle-shifters parked behind the steering wheel. Additionally, unlike the rest of the front-drive-only Fusion family, the 2.0T-powered Fusion can be had with either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive.
Ford has managed to straddle the line between sporty and comfortable. The 2013 Fusion utilizes a MacPherson-front and Multilink-rear suspension setup that helps keep it planted in corners and smooth out on the highway. To aid in handling, Ford engineers have done a wonderful job of tuning the electronic power steering system. Typically, these units result in overly numb or artificially heavy boosted steering feedback. This isn’t the case with the new Fusion as it relays a steering feel that results in confident knowledge of where your tires are, and where they’re heading.
The 2013 Ford Fusion drives nearly as good as it looks, which means a lot because it looks pretty damn good. The brakes are responsive, and work wonderfully with the suspension and steering to provide a ride that handles the scope of driving that most people will throw at it on a daily basis. Passengers will remain comfortable on short and long-haul trips, while the driver will remain happy on blasts down a canyon road. Of course, we’re not dealing with a Mustang here. The Fusion will understeer stylishly if you huck it into a corner with too much speed. That said, it’s sportier than most of the mid-size segment offerings and can easily put a smile on the average driver’s face.
Ford has fitted the 2013 Fusion with a slew of safety features designed to give you and your occupants peace of mind. The standard stuff that you’d expect is all there, of course. The 2013 Fusion is equipped with electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, and Ford’s AdvanceTrac traction control system. On top of that, Ford offers the Fusion with adaptive cruise control, active park assist to ease with parallel parking, and a lane assist system that makes sure you’re staying between the painted portion of the roadway.
Ford knew it had to produce something compelling to garner for the dollars of the mid-size sedan car buyer. The result is the 2013 Fusion, and it’s a terrific vehicle that should command a great deal of attention in this segment. It’s got serious style on the outside, a comfortable cabin on the inside, and a choice between good engines and transmission underneath the skin. On top of that, it’s priced competitively while offering up premium amenities as standard features.
Sure, the competition in this segment gets better every year. The new Altima is great, and the new Accord is pretty good. The Toyota Camry is predictably a fine choice, and the Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata are both good decisions as well. The problem for all of them though… is that the 2013 Ford Fusion is the best choice.
-Standout styling that is better than cars costing far more. -Steering feel is well adjusted. -EcoBoost motor loves to provide torque.
-Lack of feedback from center-stack buttons. -Touch screen responsiveness needs to be much faster.