2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6
Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Bob McHugh

During the nineties, Ford made the best selling family sedans in Canada. The new Fusion is a determined attempt by Ford to regain sales respectability in a market segment that it basically abandoned in recent years to concentrate on trucks and SUV’s.

Size and price-wise, the Fusion fits nicely between the Focus and the Five Hundred in Ford’s passenger car line-up. Although based on Mazda6 architecture, it’s a little longer, wider and taller; it has unique Ford safety features, and it looks totally different. To my eyes, it’s the best-looking Ford sedan in recent memory.

In addition to a Lincoln version, called Zephyr, plans are already in place to spin-off another eight new products based on this architecture, including all-wheel-drive and hybrid engine versions.

Ford buyers expect value for money and the Fusion certainly delivers that plus a slick driving experience. There’s a choice of two engines, three transmissions, and all are packaged into four model: the base SE ($22,999) comes with a 2.3-litre (160-horsepower) four-cylinder engine coupled to a five-speed manual transmission.

2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6
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A four-speed automatic transmission is optional ($1,200). The SEL upgrade ($25,299) adds fog lamps, 17-inch wheels, climate control air conditioning, an upgraded to wood or piano black interior accents, a six-disc in-dash CD/MP3 player, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an analog clock.

The two 3.0-litre V6 engine versions of Fusion, SE ($25,999) and SEL ($28,299), come with a six-speed automatic transmission – no manual is offered. The other major options are a power moonroof ($1,150) and leather seating ($1,205) that can be ordered with the SEL.


Styling

The front view of the Fusion is particularly impressive and a refreshing change from Ford’s oval theme designs of yore. The fat three-bar chrome grille

2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6
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is a styling highlight that looks great and apparently it will be a key design element in future Ford passenger products.

Most of the styling ideas used on the Fusion – the bent-bar grille, the un-square head lights – trace back to the Ford 427 concept car first shown at the Detroit auto show in 2003. Although based on the Mazda6, the Fusion has a more rigid body, a longer wheelbase, more interior room and doesn’t share a single outer body panel.
Viewed from the rear its wide track is more obvious, probably due to its high trunk line. I’d prefer something tamer, however, than the large chrome triangular taillight clusters that look like after-market additions.


Interior impressions

Our tester, an SEL V6, had black leather upholstery with attractive beige stitching.

2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6

2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6
Click image to enlarge

A centre dash mounted chrome-ringed clock and glossy piano-black dash trim also added a touch of class.

An upper dashboard central storage bin is not something I’ve noticed in any other Ford and the strategic use of soft-touch surface materials were unexpected treats. The test car’s black on black colour scheme was a little too dark for my liking, and a stouter steering wheel would be an improvement – but overall it’s still a classy package.
There’s a decent amount of legroom and headroom in the rear – better than the Mazda6 as far as I can recall – and all versions of the Fusion come with a 60/40 split rear seatback. The trunk is big, has a flat floor and its low lift-over access height is convenient.


Safety features

The basic safety package is good but the “Enhanced Safety Package” for $795 is certainly worth buying. It includes seat-mounted side air bags, roof-mounted side curtain air bags, and an anti-theft alarm system. It’s also available in all Fusion trim levels.

A check by the BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation for child seat compatibility did not show up any major problems. A close upper tether anchor location for the rear centre seat, however, may make a tight cinch of the anchor strap difficult, depending on the design of child seat.


Driving impressions

Out on the road, the Mazda6 similarities are much more evident. This is a slick machine with excellent road manners. The body feels tight, the steering is nicely weighted and it handles with the agility of a smaller car – yep, Ford has got itself a well-balanced genuine ‘Sport Sedan’.

Loved the driving position adjustments, which was a mix of power and manual on the SEL trim.

2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6
Click image to enlarge

Large side mirrors help offset vision constraints of the rear window. Although big in size, the rear window is quite steeply raked, which compresses the driver’s view of the road behind.

The V6 engine is super-smooth and quiet, most of the time. It growls a bit when you push it, but it’s not unpleasant and it’s a very willing worker. The horsepower numbers are impressive for its size and it’s a quick car, but don’t expect tire-smoking acceleration. In independent acceleration tests conducted by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, the Fusion V6 zipped from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.2 seconds, and braked from 100 km/h to 0 in just 39.2 metres, both very respectable numbers.

Official fuel economy figures are City: 11.4 L/100 km (25 mpg) and Highway 7.4 L/100 km (38 mpg).

The six-speed automatic is as smooth as they come and perfectly mated to the V6.

Ford Fusion front suspension
Ford Fusion front suspension. Click image to enlarge

It’s too bad that Ford doesn’t offer it with a manual-mode control or even an overdrive lock-out switch.

The Fusion has independent suspension systems front and rear that differ from the Mazda6, and feel a tad suppler. The front is a double wishbone variation that uses a strut with short and long control arms, mounted on a sub-frame. In the back, it has a version of the ‘Control Blade’ multi-link system used in the Focus.


Competitors

The crowded mid-size family sedan class includes these competitors:

  • Chevrolet Malibu: $19,995 – $29,885
  • Chrysler Sebring: $24,880 – $40,810
  • Honda Accord: $24,800 – $36,700
  • Hyundai Sonata: $21,995 – $28,095
  • Mazda6: $23,795 – $38,795
  • Mitsubishi Galant: $23,995 – $33,795
  • Nissan Altima: $24,795 – $37,098
  • Pontiac G6: $23,160 – $29,885
  • Subaru Legacy: $28,495 – $41,795
  • Toyota Camry: $24,990 – $33,345
  • Volkswagen Jetta: $24,975 – $29,180


    Technical Data: 2006 Ford Fusion SEL V6

    Base price $28,295
    Options $2,640 ($795 Safety package: curtain airbags, side airbags, alarm; $695 premium stereo with 6-disc CD changer/MP3 player & eight speakers; $1,150 power moonroof)
    Freight $1,150
    A/C tax $100
    Price as tested $32,185 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives
    Type 4-door, 5-passenger midsize sedan
    Layout transverse front engine/front-wheel-drive
    Engine 3.0-litre V6, DOHC, 24 valves
    Horsepower 221 @ 6250 rpm
    Torque 205 @ 4800 rpm
    Transmission 6-speed automatic
    Tires P225/50R17 performance
    Curb weight 1521 kg (3354 lbs)
    Wheelbase 2727 mm (107.4 in.)
    Length 4832 mm (190.2 in.)
    Width 1835 mm (72.2 in.)
    Height 1453 mm (57.2 in.)
    Cargo capacity 447 litres (15.8 cu. ft.)
    Fuel consumption City: 11.4 L/100 km (25 mpg Imperial)
      Hwy: 7.4 L/100 km (38 mpg Imperial)
    Fuel type Regular unleaded
    Warranty 3 yrs/ 60,000 km
    Powertrain Warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km
    Assembly location Hermosillo, Mexico
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