Although not available until later this year, the 2013 Ford Fusion is the official car of the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). It made a simultaneous debut here and at the 2012 Detroit motor show. While this new-generation mid-size sedan has plenty of traditional mechanical things going for it, Ford also realized the need for it to be in the vanguard of the electronics revolution that's taking place throughout the automotive world.

With that in mind, the company has opened up a research and development laboratory in northern California's famed Silicon Valley, where apps and virtual services will be cooked up. One idea being touted is not to bring things into the car (like the usual radio signals, for example), but to have the car transmit information. If its wipers are on, that means rain. So the car's geographic location and equipment used could let weather forecasters know when a front was coming in.

Back to the present: features usually found in more expensive machines - like blind spot monitoring and lane-keeping assistance - are in the new Fusion, along with Ford's Sync voice-activated infotainment system (developed in conjunction with Microsoft), which has evolved into MyFord Touch. Earlier versions took plenty of critical knocks for being somewhat clunky in operation, but this third generation has improved voice recognition while being faster and simpler to use. There are some new apps coming up for MyFord Touch and they will first become available in the 2013 Fusion (current apps include NPR News and health information).

It wasn't just the regular sedan making waves at CES, though. Ford also brought along a plug-in hybrid version - a production car, not a concept. Called the 2013 Fusion Energi, its makers are touting the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon.

Incidentally, the eagle-eyed reader might see a resemblance to the Ford Evos concept displayed at last year's Frankfurt auto show, perhaps also seeing more than a passing likeness around the grille to several Aston Martin models. This might be purely coincidental, but the man who designed many recent Aston Martins is Ian Callum and it just so happens that younger brother Moray is part of Ford's design team. Family dinners are probably interesting.

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Colin Ryan has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.

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