2008 Ford Fusion

For decades, domestic manufacturers have been taking a one-two punch dealt by that unrelenting duo known as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. In 2006, Ford decided it was time to start blocking punches and award the title to a domestic car. With the Fusion, Ford has created a stylish, comfortable, economical and, most importantly, reliable family sedan good enough to lure import buyers back into Ford showrooms. In truth, the Fusion is not wholly domestic, having much of its suspension, engine and transmissions co-engineered with then-partner Mazda. Sharing much of its mechanicals with the Mazda6 is far from a shortcoming, however, and actually may have allowed the Fusion's entrance to American driveways, once off-limits to anything wearing a Ford, GM or Chrysler badge.

 

Why you want it

There are numerous family sedans littering the used-car lots of America. So why choose the Ford Fusion over such favorites as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima? Bang for the buck, that's why. Thanks in part to its joint Mazda/Ford engineering, the Fusion retains an exceptionally good reliability and customer satisfaction rating, and yet its domestic nameplate means – fairly or not – that the car doesn't hold the same strong resale values as its popular Japanese rivals. This translates into lower sales prices; buyers can get a lot more car for the money.

Another huge selling point for the Fusion is the Sync in-car communication system, which is available on 2008 and later models. Developed in conjunction with Microsoft, Sync allows for voice control of the driver's cell phone, portable MP3 player and USB drives; later versions include 911 Assist as well as traffic updates and turn-by-turn directions. Toss in the fact that the Fusion can also be had with all-wheel drive, and the Accord/Camry/Altima trio suddenly go weak at the knees.

 

Notable features and options

Between 2006 and 2009, Ford offered the Fusion in three trim levels: S, SE and SEL. In 2010, the Fusion gained another trim, the performance-oriented Sport. Even the base S trim comes fairly well equipped and includes a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine; five-speed manual transmission; power operation for windows, mirrors and locks; remote keyless entry; cruise control, and a tilt/telescopic steering wheel. Front seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags were made standard in 2007, with anti-lock brakes joining the list in 2008. Optional equipment varies by trim and mostly appears on SE and SEL models, which offer such luxuries as a power moonroof; heated front seats; leather seating; Sync voice-activated navigation and audio; six-speed automatic transmission; 3.0-liter V6; AdvanceTrac electronic stability control; premium audio, and 18-inch alloy wheels. In 2010, the Fusion received a major overhaul both inside and out, gaining a rounded, more contemporary front end, a revised interior, and a new, more powerful 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, as well as standard traction and stability control. Available equipment includes a new six-speed SelectShift automatic and a high-output 3.5-liter V6 available only in the Sport trim.

 

Model milestones

2006: The front-wheel-drive Fusion is offered for the first time in three trim levels – S, SE and SEL.

2007: New standard features include front seat and side curtain airbags, and an auxiliary audio input jack. The SE trim receives more standard content, including a six-disc CD/MP3 changer, 16-inch wheels and fog lamps. All-wheel drive is introduced on SE and SEL V6 models, as is a folding front seat. Navigation is also offered for the first time.

2008: New standard features include anti-lock brakes and a tire pressure monitoring system. Optional equipment includes Ford's Reverse Sensing System, Sync hands-free communications system and a new Sport Appearance package. SEL models now come standard with an external keypad locking/unlocking feature.

2009: SEL trims receive a new multi-color interior lighting feature and Sirius satellite radio, while AdvanceTrac traction and stability control is made available on all trims.

2010: A major update brings new front and rear fascias; new wheels; a new interior; more standard equipment, including AdvanceTrac traction and stability control; front seat side-impact and side curtain airbags. Available features for 2010 include upgraded Sync with 911 Assist, the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) and a 12-speaker Sony audio system.

 

Engines and performance

For model-year 2006 through 2009, the base Fusion S offers a 160-horsepower, 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine teamed with a five-speed manual transmission. Although this combination makes the Fusion a bit more fun to drive, as well as providing better fuel economy, most Fusions were bought with the five-speed automatic. SE and SEL models could be ordered with a 221-hp V6 and six-speed automatic transmission. In 2010, the base engine grew to a 175-hp, 2.5-liter four, while the 3.0-liter V6 saw its output raised to 240 hp. The Sport trim's high-output 3.5-liter V6 pumps out an impressive 263 hp.

Early models earn good marks for handling and overall driving fun, but the four-cylinder engine doesn't provide much confidence when it comes to overtaking or climbing steep grades. The V6 is a much better partner and sees only a few miles per gallon difference in both city and highway fuel economy compared with the less powerful four-cylinder engine: 20 mpg (city) and 28 mpg (highway) for the four, against 18/26 for the six. All-wheel-drive models are a bit heavier and therefore, slightly slower, but they deliver the same competent overall driving experience as their front-drive counterparts. The 2010 Fusion received some major suspension and transmission upgrades, as well as a new electric power steering system that makes it even more enjoyable to drive.

 

Recalls, safety ratings and warranties

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued the following recalls for the 2006-2010 Ford Fusion:

2006 to 2009 Fusions have no recalls issued at this time.

2010 recalls include a possible defective seat recliner that could cause the head restraint to move forward during an accident, risking injury to the occupant. A defective parking pin on automatic transmissions could allow the vehicle to experience unintended movement.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs have been carried out and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

As for safety, the Fusion earns four out of five stars from the NHTSA in front and side impact crash tests, except for cars with side curtain airbags, which earn five stars for the driver in a side impact collision. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2007 to 2010 Fusion Acceptable or Good ratings in its frontal offset, side impact and roof strength crash tests. In the side impact crash tests, only the 2006 Fusion without side airbags receives a Poor rating.

The 2006 to 2010 Ford Fusion has a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Ford offers extended warranties on its Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, which include six years/100,000 miles on the powertrain (36 months/64,000 miles on 2006 cars), and a three-month/3,000-mile comprehensive plan. Plans for additional comprehensive coverage may also be purchased from your dealer.

 

Word on the web

We've scoured a number of online consumer and enthusiast websites including Carcomplaints.com, ConsumerReports.com, fordfusionforums.com and fordfusionclub.com. Outside of some minor gripes about tiny buttons and poorly placed heating and ventilation controls, we really don't find any universal complaints. Some owners of earlier models gripe about breaking interior door handles, while others focus on problems with poor shifting transmissions. Ford has issued a number of technical service bulletins to correct these points. As for reliability, Consumer Reports gives the 2006 to 2009 Fusion high marks in all categories, with only a few average or poor marks centering around the 2006/07 body hardware and climate systems.

 

AutoTrader recommendations

While all Fusion models are good buys, the best ones are the 2007 to 2010 V6 trims, because of their improved safety features, such as the 2007 model's side curtain airbags and the availability of traction and stability control. If money is not too tight, finding a pre-owned 2010 model would be optimal, as the car not only comes standard with six airbags, anti-lock brakes and stability control, but also has upgraded engines, styling and features.

 

Competitive set

Honda Accord

Toyota Camry

Chevrolet Impala

Dodge Avenger

author photo

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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