Long-Term Review

2014 Ford Fusion Energi: Surviving Winter

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Brian Moody March 2015

It's no secret that battery-powered things don't like really cold weather, and our Ford Fusion Energi is no exception. To illustrate that fact, we charged the Energi up on a fast charger, then left it in a parking garage (unplugged) overnight. By the next morning, we had lost about 15 percent of the previous night's 22-mile range. This issue isn't unique to the Fusion Energi, however; cars such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt experience similar setbacks. To be fair, Atlanta winters are generally mild with a bit of snow, but they're nothing like what happens in the Northeast. However, this Atlanta winter has been especially cold, with temperatures falling into the single digits several times since the beginning of the year. You may not like subfreezing temperatures, but electric cars like them even less.

Tachometer Trouble

One feature in the Fusion Energi that we didn't expect to notice, let alone dislike, is the absence of a tachometer. This is the gauge that tells you how fast your engine is spinning in revolutions per minute. You generally see this in cars with a manual transmission or on performance cars, where keeping tabs on engine speed helps you know when to shift or gives the driver additional information on how the car is performing. The Fusion Energi isn't a performance car, but the icy weather has caused the lack of a tachometer to be an issue.

When the Fusion Energi's battery uses up its electric-only range, the car automatically switches over to hybrid mode. In this mode, it works a lot like a Fusion Hybrid or Toyota Prius, using a combination of the gasoline-powered engine and the electric motor to move the car forward. When the car is operating as a hybrid, you can hear the gasoline engine working. When driving on slippery roads, however, the sound of an engine revving could mean that the drive wheels are losing traction. Drivers familiar with wintry conditions generally keep an eye on the tachometer for this reason. However, since it's a hybrid that uses the gas engine to send some electricity back to the batteries, it could mean the onboard computer is signaling the gasoline engine to produce a little more power. Without the tachometer to tell us what the engine is doing and if the revving is being caused by our heavy foot or just a computer doing its job, we felt an unsettling disconnect. Adding a tach to future Fusion plug-in hybrids might be a good call.

Warming Up

On a more positive note, the Ford Fusion Energi has a feature that lets you walk out to a warmed-up car, even when the temperature is eight degrees. Using the SYNC screen, you can customize the temperature and the time of day that you want the car to be warm. This is a big deal because cars that don't rely on a gasoline engine to generate heat need to take precious electricity from the battery that could be used for driving farther. But this programmable feature works when the car is plugged in and therefore doesn't run the battery down. It's the kind of customizable feature that you'd expect to find in a $40,000 car. We're also getting a lot of use out of the 3-level heated leather seats.

As much as the Fusion Energi hates cold weather, it comes with enough cold-weather-friendly features to make winter a little more bearable.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2014 Ford Fusion Energi: Surviving Winter - Autotrader