2017 Ford Fusion Sport Review

For a lot of people, it’s all about numbers. They love to talk about 300 horsepower this and 400 lb-ft that, five seconds from zero to 60 over here, 13-second quarter miles over there, but all of this focus on numbers usually misses something. While it’s easy to build a numbers car, it’s more difficult to build a numbers car that also rides smoothly, places just as much emphasis on comfort as performance and is equipped with a generous array of desirable luxury features.

Think of it as a three-sided matrix of comfort, performance and affordability. Generally speaking, if it’s comfortable and fast, it won’t be cheap. If it’s comfortable and cheap, it won’t be fast. If it’s fast and cheap, it won’t be comfortable. In other words, you can usually have two of the three, but getting all three—

Enter the 2017 Ford Fusion Sport, a serious effort to deliver all three sides of the matrix. Based upon what is universally agreed to be one of the finest family sedans currently on offer, the 2017 Fusion Sport goes with a twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 good for 325 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque — when you run it on 93-octane fuel. This makes the 2017 Ford Fusion Sport the first mid-sized family sedan to break the 300-horsepower mark.

A six-speed automatic transmission routes power to all four wheels. The suspension system has been reinforced with anti-roll bars, higher spring rates and wider tires on 19-inch wheels. It is also adjustable; in an effort to preserve Fusion’s family-car ride quality, while providing enthusiastic drivers with the ability to tighten things up for strafing twisty back roads.

Inside, the Fusion Sport is differentiated from its more pedestrian siblings by leather-trimmed seating with faux-suede inserts, carbon fiber accents and an S (for sport) setting on the transmission selector dial. Paddle shifters behind the steering wheel allow the driver to take control of the transmission. An adjustable drive mode selector allows the driver to advance throttle response, stiffen the suspension system and change the exhaust note to a more aggressive signature.

Meanwhile, all of the comfort and convenience features available for other Fusion models can also be had with Fusion Sport. This includes automated parking, lane keeping assistance, smart cruise control and voice-activated navigation.

Distinguishing its outward appearance are revised front styling with larger air intakes and a gloss-black mesh grille to inform left-lane hogs this is the fast Fusion. The aforementioned 19-inch wheels add to the profile view, while the rear end gets four exhaust outlets and a spoiler on the trunklid.

That’s it for the show — now for the go.

Nail the throttle with the "S" button depressed and you will see right away this is more than just the family Fusion. Acceleration is brisk, determined and darn near relentless. Thanks to the all-wheel drive system, torque steer is negligible and wheelspin is non-existent. The Fusion Sport just squats and goes.

The smart suspension system does an admirable job of keeping ride quality civil in day-to-day activities. Then, when you choose to go bombing into corners, it firms to keep body roll at bay and the tires squarely planted. There is marked difference between the handling of the Fusion Sport and the standard Fusion models. This is a car fast drivers will enjoy driving fast.

However, while the suspension system reveals itself to be capable of remarkable feats of grip, it’s let down by less than responsive steering feel and a brake pedal that asks you to press rather deeply into its range of travel before providing substantive retardation. This makes modulating the brakes a bit less than intuitive. Further, the Fusion Sport, while gripping the road mightily, feels heavy doing so. This becomes very apparent when rapid repeated transitions are asked for, such as in an extended series of “S’ curves.

The lithe agility you get from some of the better sport sedans in that situation isn’t found at the controls of the 2017 Ford Fusion Sport. While we’re on the subject, the all-wheel drive system could also be re-calibrated to give the car more of a rear-drive feel, which would add to the sportiness of the driving experience.

Now, with all of that said, as Fusions go, this is massively more fun to drive than anything else wearing the model designation. Further, among its natural competitive set (Accord, Altima, Camry, Malibu et. al.) nothing else really comes close. But when you compare it to similarly sized (and considerably more expensive) European models with corresponding powertrain and suspension configurations (Audi S4 for example), the Fusion Sport comes up a bit short in the overall driving experience category.

So, where does that leave us in terms of the three-sided matrix?

Well, the 2017 Ford Fusion Sport isn’t exactly cheap (though it is priced rather reasonably for what you get), but it is legitimately fast and unquestionably comfortable. While Ford hasn’t exactly broken the matrix, it’s definitely cracked it, which is an admirable feat. Ford Fusion Sport pricing starts at $33,605.

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