The Ford Fusion has been getting a lot of attention lately. It’s Motor Trend’s Car of the Year for 2010, Consumer’s Digest gives the car a “Best Buy” rating and KBB.com voted it one of Top 10 Green Cars of 2009. The wide range of awards is likely due to the fact that the Fusion comes in a variety of flavors from base four-cylinder all the way up to a 263-hp, V6 powered Sport model. Plus, many consider the Fusion Hybrid to be the best all-around hybrid on the road. Ford even offers an all-wheel drive version of the Fusion. And it looks like the Fusion is stealing sales from other brands as well. Of the buyers who recently purchased a Ford Fusion Hybrid, 82 percent of them were buying their first Ford.

But is the car really all that? We’re determined to find out. This time around, the average test drive just won’t do – no, we’re going to press the 2011 Ford Fusion into service the way you would. We’re packing up luggage, kids, snacks and booster seats for a three day, 1,100 mile trip starting at Ford’s World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan and ending at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. We’ll be putting things like seat comfort, rear seat space, fuel economy and even the navigation system to the ultimate test.

Sure, the Ford Fusion might be great at tackling the slalom and grabbing Car of the Year awards from gear head magazines, but real buyers want more than low 0-60s times. We want to see what happens when you grind Cheerios and Gummy bears into the seat tracks and attempt to pack a full complement of Disney Princess bedding and sleepwear into the trunk. One thing’s for sure, we’re going to find out. Along the way we’ll be posting videos and written updates right here in the Car Research section of AutoTrader.com.

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Brian Moody has been an automotive writer and presenter for more than 10 years. He has contributed to such media outlets as CNBC, Fox Business, the Today show, Speed TV, Edmunds.com and KTLA in Los Angeles. He currently covers the automotive industry and reviews new cars for the nationally syndicated Car Concerns radio show.

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