2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid/Energi/Sport Review

Long one of my favorite sedans in the mid-size segment, the versatility of the Ford Fusion platform is perfectly exemplified in these two very different versions of the model. At the performance end of the spectrum, we have Fusion Sport, boasting a turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 good for 325 horsepower and a giggle-inducing 380 lb-ft of torque.


At the economical end of the spectrum is Fusion Hybrid, capable of delivering 44 mpg in the city, 41 on the highway and 42 overall. There’s even a plug-in hybrid Energi model capable of traveling up to 20 miles on electric power alone.

And yet, the same handsome styling adorns each version of the Fusion, so unless you have a sharp eye for detail, you’ll be hard-pressed to know which one you’re looking at—unless of course the Sport goes blowing past you at full chat. Closer examination of the Sport reveals quad exhaust tips, a slightly different grille treatment and a more substantial tire and wheel package.

 

Meanwhile, the Energi models feature a charging port near the trailing edge of the left front fender and LED exterior lighting. The lower front fascias are also styled slightly differently for each model. But by and large, the public sees only a mid-size family sedan with a Ford badge on its nose.

Standard equipment for Fusion Hybrid and Energi includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, full power accessories, a rearview camera, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a pair of driver-configurable information displays, a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat, voice controls, Bluetooth, a 4.2-inch central display screen, smartphone app integration and a nine-speaker sound system with a CD player, auxiliary audio jack and USB port.


Meanwhile, key features of the V6 Sport include most of the above, along with all-wheel drive, a different grille, 19-inch wheels, quad exhaust tips, a rear spoiler, and an adjustable suspension system, along with leather and Alcantara upholstery. Both models offer the Sync 3 infotainment system, which replaced the MyFordTouch solution for the 2017 model year.

Power for Fusion Hybrid comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor fed by a lithium-ion battery pack. Total system output is 188 horsepower (195 for Energi). Recharging is accomplished when coasting and/or braking. Energi’s battery pack can also be recharged from an electrical outlet. This takes 2.5 hours with a 240v source and seven hours with 120v.

 

Both hybrid instrument clusters have an “eco” readout, which adds leaves to a tree branch in response to the economy with which you drive. The more careful you are about conserving fuel, the more leaves the readout generates. It becomes a game to see just how fully foliaged you can keep the branch. This kept me solidly in the low 40-mpg range in the Hybrid and well into the high 30s with the Energi.

Meanwhile, Fusion Sport caught me quite off guard. Having done no research on the car, I expected it to be little more than a styling exercise. This misconception was left in the dust the first time I nailed the throttle—along with all of the cars behind me. Clawing hungrily at the pavement, Fusion Sport leaps forward in great bounds of acceleration and pulls with abundant determination. The six-speed automatic transmission sometimes gets caught off guard on downshifts, but it’s pretty well matched to the rest of the drivetrain otherwise. Ford claims 5.3 seconds to 60.

While the utter versatility of the Fusion platform is remarkable, passenger comfort, ride quality and noise levels are respectable, regardless of your powerplant choice. In fact, the only time the turbocharged V6 reveals its capability aurally is at full throttle. Further, even with its more aggressive handling potential, the Fusion Sport delivers comfort on par with both of the other models covered here. Yes, the Hybrids do sacrifice four cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk (down from 16 in other Fusion models), but at 42 and 38 mpg overall, the fuel economy tradeoffs are substantial.

Bottom line, regardless of how you configure it; Ford’s Fusion is a remarkably good car, which is why it’s one of my personal favorites.  Pricing for the 2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid starts at $25,295, Fusion Energi starts at $31,120, while Fusion Sport starts at $33,750.


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