2014 Ford Fusion SE 1.5L
2014 Ford Fusion SE 1.5L
2014 Ford Fusion SE 1.5L
2014 Ford Fusion SE 1.5L. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Is Ford’s fetching Fusion mid-size sedan really only entering into its second model year? Hard to believe. At the rate the hotly contested family sedan segment is blasting along, this five-door family car with the Aston Martin grille almost feels like a veteran.

I guess that’s what the media will do to ya’. Right now it’s all about the 2014 Mazda6 being named AJAC’s Car of the Year, the upcoming all-new Chrysler 200, the soon-to-debut Hyundai Sonata and the Honda Accord Hybrid.

Nonetheless, there is some news in the Fusion camp for 2014. If buyers weren’t spoiled for drivetrain choice before, yet another four-cylinder motivational source is on the menu. This brings the count to five when including the $28,699 Fusion Hybrid and $38,899 plug-in Fusion Energi.

Today we’re looking at the 2014 Fusion SE FWD ($24,599) with Equipment Group 202A ($3000). This switches out the base naturally aspirated 175-hp 2.5L four for a new-for-2014 1.5L EcoBoost four that makes 178 hp and 177 lb-ft from 1,500 rpm.

Checking this box last year would have netted a 1.6L EcoBoost that made 178 hp and 184 lb-ft from 2,500 rpm. The 1.6L is now only available with a six-speed manual gearbox.

So why go through all this trouble for a mere 0.1 litres of displacement?

Improved fuel economy would be a good guess, but that is not the case. The numbers are all but identical.

The answer to this riddle lies on the other side of the globe. China is now the world’s largest automotive market, and there, cars above 1.5L of displacement are subject to additional taxes. Hence, a new mill for Ford’s global mid-size sedan.

Additionally, the demand for the Ford Escape crossover with the 1.6L EcoBoost is high, so this frees up production of that mill for the hot-selling cute ute.

The 1.5L EcoBoost wasn’t engineered to mate with a manual tranny. Why? Here’s a clue – in 2013 three-pedal Fusions accounted for a mere three percent of Canadian sales, and we are probably one of the more manual-enthusiastic markets.

It still rattles when cold like most modern direct-injection fours are prone to do, but overall it feels smoother than the 1.6L. While down a tad on torque, its peak arrives 1,000 rpm sooner.

2014 Ford Fusion SE 1.5L2014 Ford Fusion SE 1.5L
2014 Ford Fusion SE 1.5L. Click image to enlarge

Despite its relatively puny displacement, this direct-injection turbo engine punches above its weight, delivering 177 lb-ft of torque from a low 1,500 rpm. It’s a charming little thing too, running with relative smoothness and making an earnest snarl when you put your foot in it.

The six-speed auto is tuned for maximum fuel economy. As such, it upshifts early and does its best to keep the engine spinning at low revolutions. As a result, when calling down to the engine bay for some acceleration you’re waiting a couple of beats for the transmission to find a lower gear and the turbo to spool up. Once all systems are online the Fusion moves out quite smartly, but highway throttle response is tardy.

2014 Ford Fusion SE 1.5L
2014 Ford Fusion SE 1.5L. Click image to enlarge

There is a toggle switch on the side of the shifter that will select gears manually.

Official fuel economy figures for this front-drive Fusion 1.5L are 8.8 L/100 km city and 5.5 L/100 km highway. My wintry week netted 9.7 L/100 km, which is nothing to write home about. That seems to be the issue with Ford’s EcoBoost engines. They post good figures in the unrealistic test cycle, but real world economy suffers the more of that “turbo” power you use.

This comes into play mostly in city driving. On the highway I saw fuel usage drop to the low sevens.

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