There’s no question that the most hotly contested segment in the automotive industry involves mid-size sedans. Many a car shopper finds just what they need from a mid-size sedan, and automakers work hard to make sure their respective offerings are fresh on the minds of buyers who are ready to write checks. It makes that check a bit easier to write when the car you’re purchasing might save you a few bucks at the pump.
Fuel economy concerns help filter down the mid-size segment a bit, but not by much. More and more automakers are offering hybrid variants of their most popular vehicles. The Toyota Camry Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, for example, are both good choices for new car shoppers with green-tinted glasses.
Now it’s Fords turn to shake the fuel-efficient mid-size tree, and the blue-oval-badged automaker is fully prepared to do battle for your bucks with the 2013 Fusion Hybrid. The car has been completely redesigned for the new model year, and it just might be the best the segment has seen to date.
Ford has priced the 2013 Fusion Hybrid in a very straightforward manner. The standard trim is the Fusion Hybrid SE, which is fairly well equipped and starts at $27,995. From there you can either opt for an Appearance package, which adds $1,000 to the starting price, or you can choose the Leather package that pushes up the starting point by $2,000.
There are, of course, plenty of available options to push that final price tag even higher. If you work hard enough, you can wind up with a Fusion Hybrid that costs you $35,000. You don’t need to spend that much though, because Ford stuffs a whole lot of standard goodies into the car already.
The all-new Fusion Hybrid is poised to go head-to-head with the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. All three are mid-size five-passenger sedans that utilize both gas and electricity to get things done. Both the Camry and Sonata start a little over a thousand bucks cheaper, but both also don’t feature the same amount of amenities right out of the gate. Ford fits the Fusion with standard 17-inch aluminum wheels, while the other two run on 16-inch rollers.
A lot of shoppers won’t be drawn in by extra features though, because the main draw for a hybrid sedan is just how far it can go in the city and on the highway. Ford has pulled off an impressive feat with the 2013 Fusion Hybrid by achieving a fuel economy rating of 47 miles across the board. That’s city, highway, and combined, and it’s significantly better than what the competition can do.
If the fuel economy figures draw potential buyers in, the styling will keep them coming back for more. This all-new Fusion Hybrid is one stylish machine that features flowing lines designed to keep the eye roving over the entire skin of this good-looking beast. Up front, there’s a clear resemblance to James Bond’s ride of choice, the Aston Martin. Out back, the taillights conjure up a bit of Italian flair by reminding folks of modern Maserati two doors. In the middle, Ford drew on inspiration from Germany because there’s a dash of Audi roofline thrown in for good measure. That sounds like a lot to draw on and it should be a jumbled mess… but it isn’t. Instead, the 2013 Fusion Hybrid is a seriously good looking sedan.
When driving or riding inside the Fusion Hybrid, you can’t help buy envy those outside of the car because they have the superior view. It’s not bad in the cabin; it’s just not as spectacular as the exterior. In fact, it’s nearly the complete opposite because it’s much more simplistic. The large center stack rises, slab-like from the transmission tunnel, while the arching window flies away from the front seats to create a cockpit-like feel.
Ford was not frugal with the padding for the seats, which results in a rather cushy throne. It’s not ultra-supportive, but it doesn’t need to be because this is a hybrid and not a Mustang or the Focus ST. Everything falls within easy reach of the driver yet the responsiveness of the touch screen is still in issue. In an age where everyone wants their electronics to respond “iPhone/iPad fast”, the central point of control for the Fusion infotainment system should do just that.
Under the hoods sits a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine, which is rated to produce 141 horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque. This gas unit teams up with an electric motor for a total horsepower rating of 188, and that is routed down to the front wheels courtesy of a continuously variable transmission. The electric motor receives its power from a pack of Lithium-ion batteries, and the whole system works together to make sure fuel economy is a priority. That becomes clear when you see that the EPA has estimated that the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid can hit 47 miles per gallon in the city and out on the highway.
The 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient mid-size sedan on the market.
It’s a hard task for an automotive engineer to make a hybrid exciting to drive. The Toyota Camry Hybrid is not an exciting car, and neither is the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. The Fusion Hybrid… isn’t either, but it’s not a dullard. Despite the electronic power steering system, Ford has managed to deliver a sedan that provides appropriate feedback to the driver. It doesn’t feel too light or artificially heavy, instead it pretends it’s Goldilocks because it’s just right.
The handling is further aided by the MacPherson front and multilink rear suspension setup, as well as the base 17-inch wheels. Eighteen-inch units are optional, and only push the driving sensation more towards positive.
Typically, this is the point where we tell you that the brakes are rubbish because it’s a hybrid. Again, this isn’t the case with the 2013 Fusion Hybrid because the regenerative system isn’t overly aggressive nor does it result in odd pedal sensations. The brakes simply realize they’re brakes, and act accordingly.
That slippery shape helps keep road noise to a minimum, but there is a slight hint of tire roar. It’s nothing major, and it’s easily drowned out with a quick tap of the volume button.
The 2013 Ford Fusion is fitted with the automaker’s suite of safety technology, which includes the AdvanceTrac system and Roll Stability Control. Active Park Assist helps you keep the stylish exterior dent free by steering the car into place with little input on the driver’s part. Adaptive Cruise Control ensures that the proper following distance is maintained by picking up on the traffic ahead, and the Lane-Keeping System helps make sure you’re still wide awake and staying between the painted stripes.
The Fusion was ready for an overhaul, and Ford really came to climb to the top of the class. The 2013 Fusion Hybrid is one of the best looking mid-size gas sippers on the road, and the good looks are paired perfectly with class-leading fuel economy. Inside, the automaker has fitted the cabin with a host of premium amenities and the interior itself is a comfortable place for trips both long and short. If you desire a more upscale experience, there are quite a few options that can be checked to push the Fusion Hybrid further towards the premium segment.
The competition has been put on notice. There’s nothing wrong with the Toyota Camry Hybrid, it does its job just fine. Additionally, the Sonata Hybrid is a solid machine. The 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, however, does everything the other two can do but does it better… and it looks damn good, to boot.
-Exterior style is stunning. -Class-leading fuel economy. -Premium amenities as standard equipment.
-Touch screen needs to respond faster. -No audible feedback on the “button” touch points below the screen.
Photos courtesy of Jeff Glucker.