The 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid embodies all the good qualities of the gasoline-powered Fusion and bolsters them with an eco-friendly drivetrain that makes it one of the most fuel-efficient cars in its class. Offered only in sedan form, the Fusion Hybrid is sort of the anti-Prius, as it's sporty and sleek and provides the added security of a lockable trunk. With the exception of the engine shutting down every time the car comes to a stop, the driving experience behind the Hybrid's wheel is not far removed from that of its gasoline counterpart. Firm steering, good brakes, minimal body roll plus a comfortable and quiet cabin are the hallmarks of the Fusion Hybrid, as is stellar fuel economy. The car also features such über-cool innovations as an LCD instrument cluster with an animated vine that sprouts new leaves as you drive more efficiently, and the marvelous Sync entertainment and communications system that allows voice control of iPods and cell phones.

Nearly identical to the 2010 Fusion Hybrid, the 2011 car sees only minor upgrades -- including the addition of HD radio to the available navigation system and blind spot mirror inserts on cars not equipped with the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS).

What We Like

Excellent fuel economy and reliability ratings; resale value; fun to drive; looks cool

What We Don't

Too many hard plastic surfaces and tiny buttons on the dash and door panels; problematic navigation system; pricey compared to non-hybrid model

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The Fusion Hybrid employs a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and a 93-kilowatt electric motor -- meaning there are two power sources under the hood that can work individually or together, depending on speed and power demand. A highly efficient continuously variable transmission (CVT) sends power to the front wheels.

At highway speeds, the gasoline engine does most of the work; around town, the electric motor powers the car and the gasoline engine assists when an extra surge is required, or when the nickel-metal hydride battery pack needs recharging. The batteries also recharge when the car is decelerating, a process known as regenerative braking. Unlike most hybrids, which only operate in pure electric mode up to 25 miles per hour, the Fusion Hybrid can run solely on battery power at speeds up to 47 mph. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the 2011 Fusion at 41 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.

Standard Features & Options

The Fusion Hybrid comes standard with dual-zone automatic air conditioning, keyless entry with external keypad, the Sync entertainment and communications system, power front seats, folding rear armrest with integrated cup holders, Ford's Reverse Sensing System rear park assist, a 110-volt outlet, Sirius satellite radio (requires subscription) and a premium sound system with 6-disc, MP3-compatible CD player. Standard safety equipment includes AdvanceTrac electronic traction and stability control plus front, front-side and side-curtain airbags.

Optional equipment includes a power sunroof, the BLIS, a 390-watt Sony 5.1 Surround Sound audio system and a hard drive-based, voice-activated navigation system with Sirius Traffic and Travel Link features.

Pricing

The 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid is projected to retain strong resale values that are slightly higher than Toyota Camry hybrids, on par with the Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid, and much better than the Nissan Altima hybrid.

To get a good idea of the Fusion Hybrid's price range, we suggest using the Kelley Blue Book used-car values at KBB.com. You can also search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see what models are currently for sale in your area.

Recalls

To date, there are no recalls to report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Safety Ratings & Warranties

Safety-wise, the Fusion Hybrid receives high praise from both NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The government gives the Fusion Hybrid five stars (its highest rating) in driver and front-passenger frontal- and side-impact crash tests; rear-seat occupant protection scores slightly lower with four stars. IIHS gives the Fusion Hybrid a Good rating in its frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests, earning it a Top Safety Pick rating.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid left the factory with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty for the hybrid components, which include the high-voltage battery, CVT, the DC/DC converter, high-voltage battery connector, fan assembly, thermistor temperature-sensing probe, hybrid battery pack sensor module and the battery energy control module. Ford does offer extended warranties on its certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles, which includes seven years/100,000 miles on the powertrain from the date the car entered service, and a 12-month/12,000 mile comprehensive plan for cars no longer covered by the factory basic warranty. CPO cars also undergo a rigorous 172-point inspection to repair or replace any part not up to Ford standards. The CPO plan has many additional benefits, such as a free Carfax vehicle report, 24-hour roadside assistance and rental car reimbursement.

Other Cars to Consider

Toyota Camry Hybrid -- The Camry Hybrid offers the same interior room as the Fusion Hybrid, but its dash is not as busy and the seating a bit softer. However, the Camry Hybrid can't match the Ford's fuel economy or trunk space.

Toyota Prius Hybrid -- The Prius has less passenger volume than the Fusion, but it has much better fuel economy ratings and a more practical hatchback design.

Honda Civic Hybrid -- The Civic Hybrid has a rather small rear seat and is not as much fun to drive as the Fusion Hybrid. On the flip side, the Honda touts a superior highway fuel economy figure of 43 mpg vs. 36 mpg for the Fusion.

AutoTrader's Advice

We really like this car, but if you need to carry large objects (or just enjoy the idea of being able to carry large objects), then the massive hatch and folding rear seat of the Toyota Prius must factor into your final decision. If cargo space is not a concern, however, then the Ford Fusion Hybrid's cool styling, amazing suite of technology, entertainment equipment and impressive fuel economy put it at the top of our hybrid must-have list.

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Joe Tralongo started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2000 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He's well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to communicate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations.

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