Third Place: 2013 Ford Fusion SE 1.6 Ecoboost

2013 FORD FUSION SE 1.6 ECOBOOST. Click image to enlarge

We had decidedly high expectations of the 2013 Ford Fusion in this comparison because, well, we love it. It’s gorgeous and sporty and is the car many of us here at would actually buy. But that’s not how these comparisons work. We evaluate these cars on a range of qualities we believe are important to consumers in this segment, and it’s impossible to overlook certain weaknesses once we objectively evaluate a car against its competitors.

However, fans of the Fusion can be consoled with the fact that the Fusion scored better in the vehicle ratings, but the Camry’s efficiency and value turned the tables and pushed it ahead of the Fusion in our final calculations. The 2013 Fusion SE with the 1.6 Ecoboost engine was well equipped and rang up at a pricey $31,499 ($1,550 freight and A/C tax in), but not the most expensive in test (Accord). At that price, customers can expect leather seating, high quality interior, back-up camera, heated front seats, and driving aids like lane-keeping system and blind-spot detection.

Also included at that price was the controversial MyFord Touch system, with its touchscreen infotainment unit and touch sensitive plastic panel for audio and climate controls. None of our testers experienced any system failures, and it worked well in our limited use, but we’d all like to see the screen response times improve. Other than that, the stereo and other features were all appreciated, but nowhere did the Fusion perform as well as on the road.

This is the driver’s car of the bunch, sweeping the Fun to Drive, Handling, Steering, and Brake feel categories, and almost matching the Accord in Comfort, not to mention dominating in Exterior Styling and emotional appeal that is through the roof. Toss the Fusion into a corner and you’ll come out grinning thanks to its responsive chassis and well-sorted steering.

Factor in that you can get a slick-shifting six-speed manual with the 1.6 SE, allowing full use of its 178-hp turbocharged 1.6L inline-four and you have your driver’s choice right there. But even with the six-speed automatic, 1.6L turbo’s 184 lb-ft of torque, on tap as early as 2,500 rpm, is enough to motivate the 1,551-kg (3,421 lb.) sedan to adequate acceleration until you begin to eclipse highway speeds. However, the Fusion’s 1.6 Ecoboost and six-speed automatic seemed coarse and rough compared to some of the smooth operators in this crowd.

2013 FORD FUSION SE 1.6 ECOBOOST. Click image to enlarge

Whether we drove the Fusion a bit harder because of its eager responsiveness is impossible to say, but it delivered worst-in-test fuel consumption of 10.4 L/100 km. Compare that with its official estimates of 8.7/5.5 L/100 km city/highway. Not good, but the Nissan was still further off from its estimate, so Ford is not alone in this ‘optimistic’ rating game.

But returning to a family sedan’s core duties, the Fusion managed to match the Accord in Ride Comfort and even scored better in Cargo Space thanks to its large, fully lined square trunk and wide pass-through when folding the seats down. The stereo was as good as any in this test, and its seats were admired in all four primary positions, but it was the tightest squeeze with three abreast in the back, and the child seat installation was difficult.

As much as we like it, we can acknowledge that it performs best in those categories that we subjectively prioritize (driving dynamics, looks), yet it has a ways to go when it comes to appealing to the masses looking for a practical, reliable, transportation for the family. In some ways, it just looks too good for people to believe it is actually a fairly practical car. –JY

Pricing: 2013 Ford Fusion SE 1.6 Ecoboost
Base price:
Optional equipment: $5,350 (SE Tech Package: MyFord Touch, back-up camera – $850; Equipment Group 205A: luxury package, heated front seats – $3000; Driver Assistance Package: lane keeping system and blind spot detection — $1500)
A/C tax: $100
Destination charge: $1,550
Price as tested: $31,499

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