2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid Review

Hybrids don't need to be dull.

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February 1, 2013

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid Review

There's a perception of hybrids as plodding slowmobiles that clog the passing lane, but this one doesn't fit that bill.

Introduction
With all the focus on extended-range electric powertrains and electric vehicles, one might think that the hybrid has been forgotten. It hasn't, of course, but Ford is doing its part to bring hybrids back to the front of conversation, thanks to its C-Max Hybrid SUV and the redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid.

Ford's newest Fusion is restyled, with luxury-car looks that feature plenty of curves. Gone is the razor-sharp angular styling of the past and the grille that reminded us of the 'other' Fusion--Gillette's razor--replaced by sinewy lines and a grille that screams Aston Martin. The new Fusion is a looker, for sure, but how does its hybrid powertrain work in real-world driving?

2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid On the Road There's a perception of hybrids as plodding slowmobiles that clog the passing lane, but this one doesn't fit that bill. The horsepower and torque numbers don't look enticing at 188 total system horsepower and 246 total system lb-ft of torque, but the car has a surprising amount of get up and go when the accelerator is pressed to the floor. Hybrids don't always make us grin while accelerating, but this one did.

In electric mode, the Fusion was nice and quiet, but when the gas engine kicked on it got growly, making sounds that are usually associated with the aftermath of a fast-food breakfast. Thankfully, you won't be hearing it much; our test car was in EV mode a large percentage of the time when cruising, with the gas engine staying in the background until we accelerated hard.

The Fusion was a joy to drive on a curvy road, too, thanks to limited body roll and a suspension setup that allowed the car to stay smooth and stable in each corner, giving the driver plenty of confidence. The ride was smooth without being soft--Ford got the suspension tuning right. Ford also got the steering feel mostly right--it felt a little artificial at times but it was accurate.

Our tester felt like a large luxury sedan instead of the mid-size sedan it is--which is a good thing.

Ford advertises an EPA rating of 47 mpg city, highway, and combined (those claims have earned the company a lawsuit from disappointed owners who haven't achieved those numbers), and we saw somewhat less than that--around 28-33 mpg, according to the trip computer, though we admit to some aggressive driving mixed in with our stop and go commuting. We'd also note that 33 mpg is still pretty good, and the computer indicated that we still were using minimal amounts of gas to get from point A to point B.
2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid Inside the Cabin Ford's infernal MyFordTouch infotainment actually didn't act up during our time with the car, which was a minor miracle. MyFordTouch does become slightly more intuitive as you spend time with it, but there are still some commands that annoy us. For example, tuning to a radio station that isn't in the preset list requires too much work (unless you're willing to use the voice recognition) and the haptic touch buttons often missed the mark when trying to set the temperature.

We liked the dual five-way controllers that operated menus on each side of the speedometer better, and we especially liked the wealth of fuel-efficiency information available from the trip computer. On the other hand, Ford's 'efficiency leaves' display, which uses a tree of leaves to show how efficient your driving is, struck us as gimmicky, since it doesn't provide the hard data that the trip computer does.

Interior materials were generally high-class (one exception--we didn't like the cheap-feeling steering wheel, which is a downgrade from non-hybrid Fusions) and the layout made sense, with a nice little cubbyhole for cell phones and small items located just ahead of the shifter.

Rear-seat space was on the tight side, which is an issue in a mid-size car. But we had plenty of legroom and headroom up front.

Trunk space suffers somewhat due to the hybrid hardware--it's listed at 12 cubic feet as opposed to 16 cubic feet in non-hybrid Fusions.
2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid Exterior The Fusion's a looker, no doubt about it. Not only does the gaping grille lend luxury car ambiance to the car, but the swept rear end also gains stares. We applaud Ford for bringing high-end style to a mid-price class.

We saw a few other 2013 Fusions on the road during our testing, and we couldn't help but steal a glance. The design is just that good.
2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid Final Thoughts A mid-size car that looks and feels like a luxury car? With a hybrid powertrain that sips fuel? What's not to like?

Well, a few things. We lamented the lost trunk space, the pinched rear seat, and a few downgraded materials. The gas engine sounds unpleasant, and we still don't trust MyFordTouch. Enthusiasts will be bummed by a lack of manumatic shifting on the transmission.

These mild complaints don't overshadow the whole package, though. The Chevrolet Volt may offer cooler technology and the Toyota Prius may offer more mpg, but we'd be hard-pressed to pass over this hybrid.
2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid Specs, Features, Prices Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated to electric motor

Transmission: continuously-variable automatic (CVT)

Drive Wheels: Front-wheel drive

Fuel Economy: 47 mpg city/47 mpg highway

Base Price: $27,200

As-Tested Price: $30,975

Available Features: Navigation, adaptive cruise control, SE Technology Package (dual-zone climate control, rearview camera, Sync infotainment, 8-inch screen, 110-volt outlet), reverse-sensing system.

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