View Full Version : Ford Fusion: Can It Finally Conquer Camry, Accord? (Review)

13th October 2012, 09:27 PM

Ford Motor Co.’s 2013 Fusion recently began rolling into dealerships with a number of goals. Among them is raising consumer’s expectations for comfort, features and good-looking design in the traditionally dowdy, midsize-sedan market.

At the top of its to-do list, I suspect, is unseating Toyota’s Camry as the best-selling car in the U.S. — a perch it has occupied for most of the last 20 years.

Can it succeed? After driving standard and hybrid versions of the redesigned sedan, I think so.

The Fusion was already a roomy, smooth-riding car that was especially pleasant to drive over long distances. The new version improves on the overall driving experience with a more comfortable, better-looking interior and a driving position that feels higher and more upright. Unlike many basic sedans, the Fusion does not make drivers feel as if their rear ends are nearly scraping the pavement.

In early impressions the Ford stacks up well against its big-three rivals. Compared with the 2013 Fusion, the Honda Accord is noisy, the Nissan Altima seems cheap and the Camry is less comfortable. The Ford also looks better without appearing to try too hard. It is not simply inoffensive, but a real pleasure to behold. This is an important distinction because really good-looking midsize family sedans are rare.

My family of four had no complaints after a 1000-mile round trip to Maine in the Fusion hybrid over the Columbus Day weekend. When I took such long trips in Camrys and Accords (I admit these were last-generation models, not the newest ones) I wound up longing for the comfort of a big SUV.

I know all drivers are different, with varied requirements of their cars. I also have friends — smart friends — who swear by their Camrys. But I have driven every version of Toyota’s top seller since 1993 and consistently found them to be rolling torture chambers. One 2007 drive from Boca Raton, Fla., to Hilton Head, S.C., left me wondering if I’d ever walk upright again.

I plan longer drives in the 2013 versions of the Honda and Nissan before drawing conclusions. But I have driven the latest Camry, redesigned for 2012, and have yet to find a comfortable adjustment for the driver’s seat.

Despite its good looks and pleasant driving dynamics, the new Fusion could face an uphill struggle in catching the Camry. Despite many recalls in the last two years, Toyota has a reputation for high-quality, long-lasting cars established over decades. Ford’s record is relatively spotty in the eyes of many car shoppers.

To dominate teh midsize-car market the Ford will have to build a similar record of long-term reliability and win back former customers who, over time, have migrated to other brands following disappointments with earlier Fords.

Looking for a prediction? I think the Fusion will top the Camry in U.S. sales within two years.


15th October 2012, 09:37 PM
Geez I'm glad that I'm the only that doesn't like Ford's new corporate look.

20th October 2012, 09:44 PM
2013 Ford Fusion Full Test

Plus-Size Utility, Petite Road Manners

By Josh Jacquot, Senior Editor | Published Oct 17, 2012

The festival of upsizing that has dominated the midsize sedan segment for generations has mercifully come to an end. Everywhere, that is, but Ford.

The new generations of the Honda Accord and Mazda 6 have both evolved into sedans with less overhang and shorter overall lengths than their predecessors. Chevy's 2013 Malibu is shorter, too. At Ford, however, the 2013 Fusion grows in both length (1.0 inch) and wheelbase (4.8 inches).

And despite perpetuating a dying trend, the upsizing pays dividends for Team Blue Oval in tangible ways.

At 112.2 inches, the 2013 Ford Fusion has the longest wheelbase in the midsize segment by a large margin. Though this added length makes the car look big, it is beneficial for rear-seat passengers. More importantly, from behind the wheel you never know it's there, as this Fusion is the best-handling family sedan we've tested in recent memory.

The Power of EcoBoost
It's worth noting that our 2013 Ford Fusion test car is an all-wheel-drive model, which likely contributed to its strong handling in our instrumented tests. As important, though, is that Ford succeeded in making a large car with a very long wheelbase drive like, well, a smaller car.

Part of the credit goes to the new 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. It's now the most powerful engine in the lineup and it stomps out 237 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 270 pound-feet of torque at a low 3,000 rpm on 87 octane fuel. Compare this to the V6 in Honda's Accord — probably the best big engine in the segment — and the Ford's liveliness begins to make some sense. The 3.5-liter Honda mill needs 1,900 more revs to deliver 18 fewer lb-ft of torque. Advantage: turbo engine.

The new four-cylinder is smooth and quiet, too. There's virtually none of the unpleasant harmonics common to this layout and it gladly revs to its 6,500-rpm redline.

Questionable Efficiency
Of course, the real reason Ford replaced the Fusion's old V6 options with a turbo-4 was to improve fuel economy. On this front the verdict is still out. Like most boosted four-cylinders, this engine encourages use of its low-rpm grunt enough that most drivers will take advantage of it.

We are no exception.

The EPA says this powertrain is good for 22 city/31 highway/25 combined in the 2013 Ford Fusion. We recorded 22.1 mpg over 432 miles spent largely on the highway. The words "your mileage may vary" have never been more true.

Comparing the Other Numbers
Ford couples the EcoBoost engine to a six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and a Sport mode, which is a huge step up in control over the "Drive" and "Low" positions common to Ford products in recent years.

If we had to pick a midsize sedan for pure driving pleasure, the all-wheel-drive 2013 Ford Fusion would be our first choice.

Our test car requires 6.9 seconds (6.6 seconds with 1 foot of rollout) to achieve 60 mph and passes through the quarter-mile in 15.1 seconds at 90.6 mph. These milestones are slower than most other turbocharged four-cylinder or V6-powered family cars. Kia's Optima SX, for example, hit 60 in 6.5 seconds (6.1 with rollout) and completed the quarter in 14.6 seconds at 98.4 mph. Honda's stonk-fast Accord V6 hits 60 in 6.1 seconds (5.7 with rollout) and purrs through the quarter in 14.3 seconds at 98.1 mph.

Here, the all-wheel-drive system that makes the car so nimble is a burden, as it contributes to the Fusion's 3,736-pound as-tested weight. That's 201 and 205 pounds heavier than the Optima and Accord, respectively.

The Fusion's brakes don't seem to mind, though, as it stops from 60 mph in 123 feet, which is a few feet shorter than both the Optima and Accord.

Back to the Handling
Remarkably, the longest-wheelbase car in the segment also produces the quickest slalom speed we've ever seen for the group. Balanced by an all-wheel-drive system using an electronically controlled clutch-type center differential, the system yields a more neutral attitude on the throttle than its front-drive competition. The result is a 66.3-mph slalom speed despite nondefeat stability control.

If we had to pick a midsize sedan for pure driving pleasure, the all-wheel-drive 2013 Ford Fusion would be our first choice. Its light steering yields ample feedback and the whole package changes direction with remarkable ease. Circling the skid pad at 0.87g puts it at the top of the field in outright grip, too.

The Fusion's Practical Side
Inside, the Fusion now sports Ford's latest instrument panel design that uses a centered speedometer flanked by reconfigurable displays on each side. On the right is a screen displaying phone, navigation or audio functions, and on the left you can select from various displays including a digital tachometer, trip meters or fuel economy data.

Other than these flashy displays, the new interior offers a clean layout thanks to the largely smooth center stack, which has only two traditional buttons and one knob. There's an open area for small-item storage just below the center stack and easily accessible cupholders. Leather is standard on Titanium trim models like our tester, and while it doesn't feel luxurious, we know from experience that it is durable.

As one might imagine from a car with the longest wheelbase in its class, there's ample interior space — especially in the rear seats. Even large adults swim around in the rear like toddlers in an Olympic pool. Bulky, rear-facing child seats are swallowed without a thought — even behind 6-footers up front. Also, the trunk pass-through coupled with 60/40-split folding rear seats is large enough to accommodate a bike, while the overall space in the trunk is near the top of its class at 16 cubic feet.

Tech Wars
With the passing of the size war in the midsize segment, manufacturers are turning to features — mostly tech features — to distinguish themselves. The technology arms race includes Toyota's Entune and Honda's Hondalink, which couple Internet services with a Bluetooth-paired smartphone to ensure you're never without your social media or streaming music. Ford's answer is Sync, a system developed by Microsoft, and although it was first on the market, it hasn't necessarily been without issues.

Our own experience with Sync has been mixed. Pairing a phone is commendably easy and the system's traffic rendering on freeways is good. Overall usability is solid, with straightforward access to major functions like phone, navigation, climate and entertainment.

But there were glitches in our test car. It periodically refused volume control on both Sync's single-knob interface and its steering wheel buttons until we turned the car completely off and then back on again like a seized-up computer. Another Fusion we had repeatedly took minutes to bring the whole system to life after starting the car. "Powered by Microsoft," indeed.

There are additional gripes with My Ford Touch, the biggest of which is that, unlike buttons, contact with the touchscreen isn't registered without your having to take your eyes off the road. Of course, if you happen to like talking to your car, there are voice commands for most functions.

The Take-Away
A $35,980 tab for the 2013 Ford Fusion produced real sticker shock, but it's a fully loaded Titanium model with nearly every box checked. Among its $2,985 in options are 19-inch wheels, navigation, Platinum Tri-coat paint and the Driver's Assist package which includes blind-spot monitoring and a lane-keeping feature.

For perspective, a fully loaded Honda Accord Touring V6 will run up a $34,220 tab and it isn't available with all-wheel drive. Nor are the Hyundai/Kia twins for that matter. Stick with front-wheel drive and the midgrade SE trim and the Fusion starts closer to $26K and goes up from there.

Pricing aside, the Fusion's road manners and solid powertrain make it a sedan we prefer over many cars in the segment, even if it's bigger on the outside. Plus, the added size pays off on the inside, where its passenger and cargo room are exceptional. And despite the Sync glitches, its interior is largely functional and easy to use.

Perhaps bigger still is better.


20th October 2012, 09:54 PM
Not a bad all-round package, and it's good to see that it's still dynamically superior in that segment.