Detroit 2012: Ford Announces 2013 Fusion

Ford’s Fusion, which debuted in the 2006 model year, was a big milestone for Ford.  It marked the beginning of a turnaround for Ford’s car division, which lost its way after the much-lauded Taurus became a dinosaur in the mid-sized sedan market.  Since the Taurus/Five Hundred had moved up to the full-size sedan market, a new mid-sized sedan was called for, especially one which would be competitive against offerings from Honda and Toyota.  The Fusion has been a great success, especially since its 2010 refresh, and for 2013, Ford is pulling out all the stops with its redesign.  Continue reading for details, pictures and Ford’s press release.

The current Ford Fusion has a nice interior, stylish exterior, decent power train options, and is a good value. While that may be working for now, it won’t in the near future.  With Hyundai’s Sonata and Volkswagen’s Jetta taking legitimate shots at the segment’s big guns (read: Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima), a mild redesign just isn’t going to cut it.

To that end, Ford is borrowing a page from Hyundai’s book and ditching the V6 for 4-cylinder options.  At the same time, it has improved its hybrid offering, and is adding a plug-in Energi trim level, which ought to be interesting.  While the Fusion itself competes against the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, the Energi plug-in hybrid will compete with the Prius Plug-In Hybrid and Chevrolet Volt.

Aside from the Energi, which is expected to achieve greater than 100 MPGe (gas/electric equivalency), the Fusion Hybrid should be rated at 47/44 city/highway, an improvement of 6 and 8 MPGs over the 2012 model, respectively.  Then there are the gasoline-only engines, of which there are three.  Two EcoBoost engines (1.6-liter and 2.0-liter) will be optional, with a naturally aspirated base engine.  While the EPA hasn’t certified the 2013 Fusion’s various engine options, Ford expects the 1.6-liter to garner 26/37 city/highway mileage.  The base engine will keep prices down, while the 1.6-liter will probably be the volume seller.  the 2.0-liter EcoBoost is the sporty option, and of course the Hybrid and Energi trim levels will be the fuel-economy headliners.

Besides engines, the 2013 Fusion will sport 6-speed automatics, with some trim levels sporting paddle shifters.  Further down the drive train, the Fusion will offer all-wheel drive for the first time, an option previously found only on its Lincoln MKZ sister car.

Enough talk of the drive train – let’s dissect the new sheet metal.  Starting out front, the front grille area is similar to the new Fiesta and Focus, while resembling the front of current Aston Martins.  The hood has sharp creases lifted from the Ford Taurus, as well as swept-back headlights.  The profile is reminiscent of Audi’s new A7 sportback, while the rear end really pulls from the new Focus’ design.  Two character lines run from front to back, one hiding the door handles and the other breaking up an otherwise flat sill area.

Wheel designs are on the sporty side, with very attractive designs, cribbing designs from BMW and Lincoln.  The new Fusion’s taillamps remind me of Ford’s Focus, but having the exhaust outlets integrated into the rear fascia is a classy move.

Inside, it’s more of the same from Ford, which is a good thing.  Ford’s current interior designers are right on the money, improving the cabins on all of its recently-redesigned vehicles.  Comfortable-looking seats feature plenty of bolstering for sportier trims, while a driver-oriented center stack keeps controls at easy reach.  MyFord Touch is present, of course, but it’s MyFord Touch 2.0, with a better layout for less-distracted driving.  An actual volume knob is present, which is one of the most-used controls while moving.

The dashboard on the new Fusion is also taller, which should translate to being better enveloped, versus feeling like you’re riding or driving atop the Fusion.  The instrument cluster hasn’t been touched too much, retaining its dual 4.2″ LCD screens which flank the analog speedometer.  Once the new Fusion goes on sale, check back for my impression of the materials used, but I expect quite a bit of soft-touch plastic, with harder plastics used in lesser-touched areas.

No vehicle redesign is complete without a listing of new technologies on offer, and the new Fusion is no exception.  The highlights include MyFord Touch for infotainment, Lane Keeping System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot monitoring (BLIS), Active Park Assist and Auto Start/Stop.

Lane Keeping System helps drivers stay in their lanes by monitoring lane markings and then using a three-tier system to alert drivers.  The first tier uses an audible alarm to alert the driver, while the second tier vibrates the steering wheel to get a driver’s attention.  If all else fails, the third tier actually applies pressure to the steering wheel to keep the Fusion in its lane.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) are already found on other Ford vehicles, and BLIS is currently an option on the Fusion.  ACC uses radar sensors in the front bumper to keep the Fusion a set distance from the vehicle in front of it, reducing engine power and applying the brakes to accomplish this.  BLIS uses sensors on the sides of the Fusion to detect cars where the driver may or may not see them, and illuminating LEDs in the side-view mirrors when cars are found.  The system also detects cross traffic in front and back, to help avoid accidents when pulling out or backing into traffic.

Active Park Assist (APA) uses the aforementioned sensors and electronic power steering to park the Fusion, once a suitable parking spot has been located.

Auto Start/Stop is a feature that has been found on several European-only models in the past several years, but is finally making its way to the US.  When the Fusion comes to a halt, the engine smoothly shuts down, and when the driver lifts their foot from the brake pedal, it’s restarted.  If you idle a lot in traffic, this feature will come in handy in keeping fuel usage down, and should be a must-buy option for anyone who drives in a city environment often.

In the end, the 2013 Ford Fusion should prove to be quite the competition for the stalwart Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry, as well as Hyundai’s upstart Sonata.  Look for the new Fusion in Ford showrooms sometime this year – but my money is on late spring/early summer.

by John Suit

Source: Ford

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