By Shari Prymak
Being a car journalist, you’d expect that I’d be able to identify any car on the road just by a glimpse of its turn-signal. For certain cars, usually the ones that only millionaires can afford, that is often the case. But sadly, the truth is that the majority of cars you see on the road today are about as unique as washing machines. Just examine a new VW Passat and Jetta side by side to see what I’m on about. For the most part, mainstream cars are just transportation tools, indistinguishable and boring.
That’s why I like the Ford Fusion so much. It’s a car that was clearly not designed to blend into the herd. With its sexy sculpted body, and Aston Martin-like horizontal bar grille, the Fusion is easily the best looking mid-sized mainstream sedan on the market today. After having a moment to take in all those beautiful design cues, you wouldn’t be blamed for mistaking the Fusion for a new Jaguar, Audi, or indeed, an Aston.
Forget about paying an Aston Martin-like price tag though, because the Fusion starts at only $22,481 for a base S model, with prices that climb to over 40 grand for a well-optioned Platinum or Sport model.
Optioning out most cars is a bit like ordering dinner from a specials menu, you get three or four choices and that’s it. With the Fusion, on the other hand, Ford gives you the full menu. There are three 4-cylinder engines and one V6 engine to choose from, three of which are turbocharged, ranging in power from an adequate 173 horsepower to a class topping 325. You can get front-wheel or all-wheel drive. There’s even a super-efficient hybrid model and an extended-range plug-in hybrid, the latter of which is capable of 35 kilometres of all-electric range.
The optional features list is seemingly endless as well. Mid-range SE and Titanium models can be equipped with features like heated and cooled leather seats, heated steering wheel, the user-friendly SYNC 3 infotainment system with navigation, active park assist, and every conceivable modern safety system. The decked-out Platinum model is downright opulent with its leather-wrapped instrument panel, console rails, armrests, and diamond quilt pattern seating in upscale leather.
My pick of the range would be the SE Energi plug-in hybrid model, optioned with navigation and nothing else, for an MSRP under 35 grand. That way you get a sensibly-priced and well-equipped car, complete with a refined, fuel efficient, well-proven drivetrain. In Ontario, it also entitles you to a $7,730 electric car rebate from the government, bringing the price down below that of a regular hybrid model. Turbocharged engines are nice, but I can do without the complexity of the technology, which, in my mind, equates to higher repair costs down the road. The same holds true for the optional all-wheel drive.
One of the really nice things about the Fusion is that the high-end European feel is not limited to the design. Out on the road, the apparent level of build quality, quietness, and general solidity that the Fusion offers is reminiscent of many expensive German sedans. The handling is a similar story. With its minimal slack in the suspension, pedals, and steering, the Fusion can be tossed into corners with a huge amount of confidence, all while maintaining the comfortable ride quality that mid-sized sedan buyers expect.
Despite its overall brilliance, the Fusion is not without its limitations. Thanks to its rakish profile, outward visibility and rear-seat head and leg room are a bit tighter than that of a similar-size Accord. And even though the plug-in hybrid Energi model would be my pick, it does come at the expense of trunk space, which is far less than that of the gas models. The seatbacks don’t fold down either.
For those looking for an all-around polished package with a conventional drivetrain, the Honda Accord or Mazda 6 arguably make a bit more sense. There are few mainstream mid-sized sedans that are quite as perfect as that duo. Then again, being just a notch below perfection is hardly a bad thing. And when the package comes in such a visually stunning wrapping, well, perfection suddenly starts to take on a whole new meaning.
For more details, please visit the Ford Canada website.