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First Drive: 2013 Ford Fusion
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Manufacturer’s Website
Ford Canada

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Photo Gallery:
2013 Ford Fusion

There’s no question J Mays and his design team have upped the ante in the mid-size family sedan game with the all-new 2013 Ford Fusion. This car is a looker. From its Aston Martin-esque grille to its sweeping coupe roofline, the Fusion presents itself as an elegant, one-of-a-piece design whose simplicity of line and lack of unnecessary adornment all of a sudden makes the competition look fussy and cluttered.

Being a global vehicle, this Fusion distances itself from the outgoing North American-specific car that shared its platform with a two-generation-old Mazda6.

2013 Ford Fusion SE
2013 Ford Fusion SE
2013 Ford Fusion SE. Click image to enlarge

The 2013 Fusion is available with a variety of powerplants-a base 2.5L naturally aspirated four, a 1.6L Ecoboost (Ford-speak for turbo), a 2.0L Ecoboost, and a hybrid drivetrain that uses a 2.0L Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder paired with battery and electric motor. You can specify a six-speed manual with the SE 1.6L Ecoboost-otherwise it’s a six-speed auto for all models except the hybrid, which uses a continuously variable transmission. All-wheel drive is available with the 2.0L SE and Titanium models.

Prices range from the base $22,499 S to the premium Titanium Hybrid at $35,499. So as you can see, there’s plenty of choice when configuring a 2013 Fusion.

Today we’re looking at a front-drive Fusion SE ($24,499) fitted the $3,000 Equipment Group 205A that switches the 175-hp naturally aspirated 2.5L four to a 178-hp 1.6L Ecoboost, and adds such goodies as heated leather front buckets (10-way driver) with memory, auto-dimming mirrors, upgraded interior and exterior trim, 6-speaker audio with Sirius, fog lights, block heater plus leather-wrapped wheel and shift knob.

It only took a bit of seat time in this Deep Impact Blue tester to discover its athletic appearance is no empty promise. The dynamic signature of one of Ford’s other world cars, the Focus, carries forward here. The Fusion has a tight, responsive, and connected feel. The structure is solid and substantial, and the nicely weighted steering (better than the Focus) directs the car with accuracy and immediacy.

And good news-its sporty demeanour does not come at the expense of ride quality. Yes, it’s firm, but never harsh.

We give the Fusion’s front-drive chassis full marks.

2013 Ford Fusion SE
2013 Ford Fusion SE. Click image to enlarge

In the ongoing quest for improved fuel economy, Ford has put most of it eggs in the Ecoboost basket. The strategy here is the application of small displacement direct-injected turbo engines like we’re seeing with BMW, Audi, Cadillac, Mercedes, GM, Hyundai… and the list goes on.

This 1.6L generates 173 hp and 184 lb-ft at 2,500 rpm and, like many of its brethren (BMW and VW come to mind), it sounds like a blender full of walnuts when cold. The Ecoboost provides adequate urge but it needs to work hard if you have a heavy foot, and since the six-speed is programmed to keep the revs low for fuel economy purposes, calling for some giddy-up has the tranny kicking down a cog or two. Factor in a bit of turbo lag and you’re waiting a few beats before anything happens.

I’ve noticed this with Ecoboost-powered Ford Escapes, too.

Fuel economy for the front-drive Fusion SE 1.6 with six-speed auto is optimistically rated at 8.7 L/100 km city and 5.5 L/100 highway. In an upcoming mega-comparison test, this tester fared the worst, posting 10.4 L/100 km over an admittedly heavy-footed day. This is another trait I’ve noticed with Ecoboost engines-you have to pedal lightly to get near the claimed mileage.

With a mix of city and highway driving, my time with the Fusion ended at a respectable, if not remarkable, 9.6 L/100 km.

2013 Ford Fusion SE
2013 Ford Fusion SE. Click image to enlarge

While the Fusion’s sultry skin imparts a sense of timeless beauty, things on the inside, at least design-wise, are not in the same ballpark. The sculpted dashes of the Focus and Escape are not found in the Fusion-visually it’s a pretty bland effort featuring a sea of textured black plastic with some faux metal trim, only spiced up by the clear backlit speedo and colourful LCD displays that flank it.

This car was fitted with the $850 SE Tech/MyFord Touch Package that includes back-up camera. Ford has taken a ton of heat over this comprehensive touchscreen interface that initially proved overly complex, hard to operate, and slow to respond. And all that talk of recognizing 10,000 voice commands was a bit of hooey, too, as it seemed you had to ask it 10,000 times to do anything.

2013 Ford Fusion SE
2013 Ford Fusion SE. Click image to enlarge

This car had an improved version of MyFord Touch that sports simpler graphics and faster response to finger prods. Better but far from perfect. Much of this could be bypassed by using the panel below the screen that has redundant controls for seat heaters, HVAC and audio. The two rotary knobs were welcome landmark on this stark landscape.

But that’s just about it for griping. I found the front seats to be exemplary-snug, supportive, and firmly comfy in the finest European tradition. There’s plenty of legroom in the back, too-just a smidge shy of the class-leading Honda Accord-and the trunk is big, too.

With the recent influx of impressive new metal in this highly competitive segment, it won’t be a complete walk in the park for this fetching and fine-driving new offering from Ford. Or will it?

Stay tuned for our upcoming Family Sedan Mega Comparo.

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

Crash test results
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

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