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2010 Ford Fusion Preview

2010 Ford Fusion gets tweaked inside and out, adds advanced hybrid model and new Sport Edition

By Bill Roebuck

2010 Ford Fusion.Having learned over recent years that it is quite capable of building top-of-class vehicles in both safety and reliability, Ford has let its designers loose on its Fusion sedan, first introduced for 2006. The newly revamped model will be in showrooms in the spring of 2009. Pricing will be included when it is released.

Ford wants to be at the top of the heap in the highly competitive mid-size sedan segment, thus the many tweaks made to the Fusion, including the addition of a Sport model and a hybrid version.

Highlights of the changes include increased four-cylinder gasoline fuel economy, more power, a host of innovative technologies including a blind spot detection and warning system, and more total passenger space and luggage capacity than the Toyota Camry, the target at which the Fusion is aiming.

Ford has made powertrain enhancements to the new Fusion that include the availability of three gasoline engine options -- a Duratec 2.5-litre I4 and enhanced 3.0-litre and 3.5-litre V6 Duratec engines. The I4 engine is expected to deliver fuel economy that is about 2.0 litres/100 km better on the highway than the Honda Accord and 1.0 litre/100 km better than the Toyota Camry.

Taking the fuel economy challenge seriously, Ford also is introducing an all-new hybrid model that offers economy that is expected to beat the Toyota Camry hybrid by about 3.0 litres/100 km in the city.

The freshened Fusion gets a new design that gives it improved aerodynamics and also makes it look more upscale. The front end is new and includes a domed hood -- providing aerodynamic benefits, and new headlamps, grille and larger fog-lamp area. Underbody shields also have been added in another nod to improving fuel economy.

Inside, the décor is more contemporary, with a somewhat technical look. Metallic finishes highlight the centre console, doors and steering wheel. The instrument panel is finished with a soft upper and lower skin and has much less hard plastic than before. Displays and switches now have a soothing iced blue lighting.

All in all, the Fusion's new interior looks both classy and first class, a nice step up in quality.

As soon as you touch the outside door handle to enter the car, the gauge needles sweep back and forth and the lighting and chimes come on to provide a sort-of 'welcome in' feeling.

The horsepower and torque of the 2.5-litre I4 engine have been improved from the car's outgoing 2.3-litre I4 engine, rising to 175 hp and 172 ft.-lb. of torque from the previous 160 hp and 156 ft-lb. As a result, 0-100 km/h acceleration improves by a full second, so it's now quicker than either the Toyota Camry or the Honda Accord, the other strong contenders in this segment.

2010 Ford Fusion.All models now get a six-speed transmission, in automatic, or with the I4 engine, a choice of manual or automatic. The added gear allows for smoother acceleration and, again, improved fuel economy.

Ford's 3.0-litre V6 was also improved on the 2010 model to enable fuel economy gains of about one litre/100 km. Horsepower also was increased to 240 hp and 222 ft.-lb, up from 221 hp and 205 ft.-lb. in the previous version. This engine is now flex fuel-capable and can run on E-85 ethanol.

The other V6, available in the Fusion Sport, has a displacement of 3.5 litres and produces 263 hp and 249 ft-lb of torque using regular fuel. Both V6 engines are available with Ford's SelectShift option for individual gear control.

Electric power assist steering on 2.5- and 3.0-litre models is said to improve steering feel, driving dynamics and fuel economy. Another benefit is that the turning circle is nearly 30 cm smaller. Both front and rear suspension components also have been improved.

2010 Ford Fusion interior.Enhancements to improve sound quality of the new Fusion include an acoustic windshield, thicker front door glass, new hood insulators, inner and outer dash absorbers and carpet, revised sealing baffles, additional sound deadening in the trunk, and a new interior headliner absorption material. Wind noise has been reduced with better body and door sealing, bringing it to three sones better than the Camry or the Accord.

The all-new Fusion Hybrid sedan boasts a revamped hybrid system borrowed and improved from the company's Escape Hybrid SUV. The Fusion hybrid transitions between gas and electric power and back more efficiently and seamlessly.

This model goes as fast as 76 km/h under electric power before it needs to switch on the gas engine for a boost. That's pretty much a record, as most current hybrids need gas engine assistance at under 40 km/h or so.

It also means you can do a lot of city driving under emissions-free electric power. The city driving range on a single tank of gas is expected to be more than 1,127 km.

The Fusion Hybrid has a novel new instrument panel display called SmartGauge with EcoGuide.

Instrument panel on the 2010 Ford Fusion Sport.Since driving style affects fuel economy, to encourage a gentler press on the go pedal, the display shows a picture of a leafy green vine. The more environmentally friendly you drive, the more leaves you see. Stomp on it and the leaves will start to fall off. Visually, you're reminded what you're really capable of doing to the environment with your car.

The Hybrid model also has an eco-friendly seat fabric, which is made from post-industrial 100% recycled materials, plus a standard 110-volt power outlet.

Innovative interior options available on the 2010 Fusion include Ford's SYNC hands-free in-car communication and entertainment system, Voice-Activated Navigation, Sirius satellite radio, an integrated DVD player, a music jukebox that stores more than 150 hours of music, and a screen that can be customized with personal photos.

Also available are a Reverse Camera System, customizable interior lighting with seven base colours, and a Sony-branded audio system with surround sound as a factory option.

Safety options include a Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert -- a neat feature that helps you back out of a parking spot in a busy shopping mall by alerting you to passing vehicles you might not see.

Clearly, after spending some time poking and prodding a pre-production version of the new Fusion, it seems likely Ford will deliver on its goal of challenging the top contenders in the mid-size sedan market. Now we just can't wait for that first test drive.

Posted Jan. 19, 2009. Bill Roebuck is the editor of CarTest! . ©  TM

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