2014 Fusion Energi: Four wheels firmly planted in the future

11 Mar 2014 | 1,508 views | No Comment
  By Don Hammonds       It should be no surprise to anyone familiar with Automobile Journal that  Ford's Fusion Energi is a popular car with us.      First of all, of course, is the fuel economy that this plug-in hybrid manages to generate--it's pretty spectacular; 100 mpg-e. Sure, most people who drive the car solely on its gasoline mode of operaton get anywhere from 47 to 50 miles per gallon if you read consumer comments. But even the idea of getting 100 mpg-e with this car is a tantalizing one and well worth considering as a reason to buy the Fusion Energi.         By the way,  for those who aren't familiar with that designation, the mpg-e designation rating is used by the government  for plug-in hybrids,  which often run exclusively on electricity. The figure should be considered an equivalent of what the buyer might expect in mileage.        And despite the high mileage, don't think it's a slug; it isn't. This is one hybrid that's balls of fun to drive.  It handles well, its eerily quiet, and it transports you in utter comfort, particularly if you buy the Titanium model, the top of the line for Fusion these days.         And what do we think of  the styling?  We don't think that it's quite as graceful as some other mid-sized "four door coupe" designs we've seen these days, such as the spectacularly graceful and expensive looking Mazda6.  Our reason for that is that the rear end of the Fusion looks a bit too stout for our taste and it's slightly taller than we'd like in the back.  Yet, we think that the Fusion is still far better looking than other intermediate family cars on the road, even the oft complimented Hyundai Sonata. And it beats the boxy design of the previous generation Fusion by a mile.          But what gives Fusion Energi the big edge with us is, as we said, the fact that it is a Fusion.  It is solidly built, has a nice, comfortable interior, and cavernous room front and back.  And the Fusion Energi is a technological tour de force, with such standard and optional features as automated parking assist, the Ford "My Touch" infotainment system, and countless items. The 2014 Ford Fusion Energi  uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine combined  with an electric motor that's fed by a lithium-ion battery pack. The combined hybrid output totals 195 horsepower that's sent to the front wheels through a specialized continuously variable transmission (CVT). The battery pack, by the way looks to be a lot bigger than the one we saw on the Hybrid Fusion and that shows up when it comes to trunk space as you'll see later on in this review. The Fusion Energi can be driven soley on electric power for up to 21 miles or 85 miles per hour only on electric power. Not a lot of change on the 2014 version;  mostly things are limited to the availability of a  heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats and inflatable (airbag) rear seatbelts.   So how does the Fusion Energi differ from other Fusions when it comes to operating it?  Mainly, the difference can be traced to the EV mode button.  You can choose any of three modes to drive the car : EV Now all-electric (up to 85 mph or for up to 21 miles), EV Auto for normal hybrid power blend  or an EV Later mode that largely relies on the gasoline engine for getting around, thus leaving the battery power for some other more opportune time.      And what are some of the challenges or problems you may have?     For one, be aware that trunk space is very limited on the Fusion Energi:  At luggage capacity is just 8.2 cubic feet, or 4 less than the Fusion Hybrid and only half  what you get with the gasoline powered Fusion.       Another problem for us were the extremely sensitive brakes.  A slight touch on the pedal causes the car to nosedive and jerk to a stop.  It takes quite a lot of time to get used to the brakes, and they particularly need to be modulated well and used carefully when you park or come to a stop sign.       The Fusion Energi is not cheap of course; base price is $34,700, and our Titanium version cost almost $41,000.  But you will find no more advanced plug-in hybrid than this one; and of course it comes with everything that people have come to love with Ford Fusions.      

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