Test Drive: 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE car test drives hybrids ford
Test Drive: 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE car test drives hybrids ford
Test Drive: 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE car test drives hybrids ford
2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

For many of us, the pleasure of driving is one of the great joys in life. I would argue that even drivers who just want to get from Point A to Point B appreciate a car with responsive steering, secure handling, strong acceleration, good brakes and a comfortable ride. That’s why I’m not a big fan of hybrids, plug-in hybrids or electric cars. In their effort to maximize fuel economy, they often compromise performance and comfort.

But to give credit to the car companies, they have put a lot of effort into making hybrid vehicles drive like ‘normal’ cars even as new ‘green’ technology such as engine start-stop systems, electric steering, continuously variable transmissions and regenerative braking systems have made that job harder. The recently redesigned 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid is a good example of a hybrid car that has ironed out some of those hybrid-specific compromises. Compared to its predecessor, the 2013 Fusion Hybrid offers smoother automatic engine starts, more responsive steering, less cabin noise and vibration, improved ride and handling, and a roomier cabin – all of which contribute to a more pleasant driving experience.

Fuel economy first

First, let’s look at what hybrid buyers are most interested in: fuel economy. According to the EPA, the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid’s fuel consumption (L/100 km) of 5.0 city/5.0 hwy/5.0 combined is a big improvement over the previous generation Fusion Hybrid’s 5.7 city/6.5 hwy/6.1 combined, and better than most other current hybrid cars in the market, including the Toyota Camry Hybrid (5.7 L/100 km combined), Hyundai Sonata Hybrid (6.5 L/100 km), Kia Optima Hybrid (6.5 L/100 km), Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid (5.2 L/100 km), Buick Regal e-Assist (8.1 L/100 km) and Chevrolet Malibu Eco (8.1 L/100 km). The Fusion Hybrid is bested only by the Toyota Prius and Prius V (4.7 L/100 km) and the smaller Prius C (4.7 L/100 km ).

The EPA figures are an excellent guide and good for comparison purposes, but your real-world fuel economy will differ vastly if you do a lot of city driving (where hybrids can run on battery power alone) or if you do more highway driving (where the gas engine does more of the work). For example, in our five previous test drives of the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid (with five different drivers with different driving routes), we observed average fuel consumption figures of 5.7, 5.9, 6.0, 6.1 and 6.5 L/100 km respectively. At the end of my week with the Fusion Hybrid tester, its fuel consumption readout was showing an average of 6.3 L/100 km after 3,680 km on the odometer. Still, this is excellent fuel economy for a mid-size sedan weighing 1,640 kg.

Test Drive: 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE car test drives hybrids ford Test Drive: 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE car test drives hybrids ford Test Drive: 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE car test drives hybrids ford Test Drive: 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE car test drives hybrids ford
2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid SE. Click image to enlarge

Apart from its sleek new shape, a number of technical upgrades are responsible for the Fusion Hybrid’s improved fuel economy: a new more fuel-efficient 141-hp 2.0-litre Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine that replaces the previous 156-hp 2.5-litre Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine, and a new Ford-built continuously variable transmission that replaces the previous Aisin CVT. An electric air conditioning compressor, electric water pump and electric power steering eliminate the need for an accessory drive belt, thereby improving fuel economy by reducing engine load – the air conditioning and power steering continue to operate on electric power when the engine shuts off automatically at stop lights. As well, a new more powerful 118-hp electric motor replaces the previous 106-hp motor allowing the 2013 Fusion Hybrid to run on electric power alone at speeds up to 100 km/h, up from 75 km/h in the previous model. Finally, a new lighter and more powerful 1.4 KW/h lithium-ion battery pack replaces the previous nickel-metal hydride battery pack behind the rear seat.

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