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2015 Ford Fusion: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2015

A decade ago, the 2015 Ford Fusion wouldn't have been possible. Back then, Ford's European division got all the good stuff, and Americans were generally stuck with the leftovers. But there's been a quiet revolution within Ford in the years since, and the 2015 Fusion is a case in point. Sharing most of its parts with the decorated Euro-market Mondeo, the Fusion is an all-out assault on the midsize-sedan segment. It's Ford's honest best shot at taking down Camry and Accord, and we won't be surprised if the Fusion does just that.

Naturally, we've found some nits to pick, but the real story here is the current Fusion's emergence as a no-excuses contender. From the peppy, fuel-efficient turbocharged models to the incredibly fuel-efficient Hybrid, the Fusion lineup is packed with star performers. Giving your best is never a bad idea, and we suspect that Ford will be reaping the benefits once Americans get familiar with this world-class Fusion.

What's New for 2015?

The 2015 Fusion receives a number of minor equipment updates, including standard power passenger seats in the SE (6-way) and the Titanium (10-way), wider availability for the 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine and a standard rearview camera. Also, the SE loses its formerly available 1.6-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine and manual transmission.

What We Like

Drop-dead gorgeous; sophisticated driving dynamics; outstanding hybrid fuel economy; impressive technology; available all-wheel drive

What We Don't

Front seats might be too narrow for some; hybrid trunk is hurt by awkward battery-pack hump

How Much?

$23,325-$33,155

Fuel Economy

Standard on the Fusion S and SE is a 2.5-liter inline 4-cylinder rated at 175 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission is a 6-speed automatic, and fuel economy is estimated at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.

Optional on the SE is a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder rated at 181 hp and 185 lb-ft. It comes paired with the 6-speed automatic and offers an auto stop/start function that helps deliver fuel economy up to 25 mpg city/37 mpg hwy.

Also optional on the SE and standard on the Titanium trim is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder rated at 240 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. The 6-speed automatic gets shift paddles here, and fuel economy estimates are 22 mpg city/33 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive or 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive. Notably, this engine is the only one that offers all-wheel drive.

As for the Fusion Hybrid, it derives 141 hp and 129 lb-ft from its gasoline engine, while the electric motor adds 118 hp and 117 lb-ft of on-demand torque. The Hybrid's transmission is a continuously variable automatic (CVT), and its fuel economy is superb at 44 mpg city/41 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The Fusion is offered in six trim levels: S, SE, S Hybrid, SE Hybrid, Titanium and Titanium Hybrid.

The S ($23,325) kicks things off with 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic halogen headlights, LED taillights, full power accessories, air conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel with auxiliary controls, intermittent wipers, a height-adjustable manual driver's seat, a trip computer, MyKey parental-control capability, a rearview camera, SYNC voice-command functionality with MyFord mobile-app support and a 4-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input jack.

The SE ($24,370) steps up to 17-in wheels, SecuriCode keypad access, a 10-way power driver's seat with adjustable lumbar support, a 6-way power passenger seat, satellite radio, six audio speakers instead of four and eligibility for a variety of options that the base S doesn't get, including smaller turbocharged engines and a navigation system that upgrades the default central display to a large, colorful touchscreen.

The S Hybrid ($26,910) gets 17-in wheels of its own, dual-zone automatic climate control and the Hybrid-only SmartGauge instrument cluster, and it also trades the regular car's compact spare tire for a less space-consuming mobile repair kit. Otherwise, it's equipped similarly to the nonhybrid S trim.

The SE Hybrid ($27,715) enjoys the S Hybrid's special add-ons and is otherwise equipped similarly to the nonhybrid SE.

The Titanium ($31,115) turns on the charm with a powerful 2.0-liter turbo engine, 18-in wheels (a few different 19-in designs are available), fog lights, dual exhaust tips, keyless entry with push-button ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats with 10-way power passenger adjustments, rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, aluminum pedals and an exclusive 12-speaker Sony audio system with MyFord Touch.

The Titanium Hybrid ($33,155) essentially pairs the Hybrid's exclusive hardware and technology with the regular Titanium model's standard features.

Options on lower trim levels include various items that come standard on higher trims. Also available are such niceties as a navigation system, adaptive cruise control, an automated self-parking system and a sunroof.

In terms of versatility, the regular Fusion's trunk boasts 16 cu ft. of capacity, which is on the large side for this class. Unfortunately, the Hybrid's hauling ability is hampered by its crudely integrated battery pack, which sticks out of the trunk floor like the front stoop of a house. For a hybrid, though, the Fusion Hybrid is pretty capacious, checking in at 12 cu ft.

Safety

The 2015 Ford Fusion comes standard with 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and eight airbags (front, front-side, front-knee and full-length side-curtain). Crash-mitigating inflatable rear seat belts are optional on all trims.

Numerous electronic driving aids are also offered, including a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure assist to keep you pointed straight, adaptive cruise control and a cross-traffic warning system for when you're backing out of a tight spot.

In government crash-testing, the Fusion received a perfect five stars out of five overall, including five stars for front impacts and four stars for side impacts.

Behind the Wheel

In our interior evaluation, we were immediately struck by how modern the Fusion's dashboard and controls have become. The cabin seems thoroughly up to date, with crisp gauges, standard steering-wheel-mounted controls and a rakish driver-ward sweep to the center stack. We also appreciated the snug front seats, though those accustomed to generous American seat dimensions might not.

Rear passengers should enjoy their time in the Fusion. Maximizing space beneath the fastback rear roofline was clearly a priority, since even 6-footers have headroom to spare. Legroom, too, is plentiful, if not quite as limolike as the generous wheelbase would suggest.

On the road, the Fusion impresses with its athletic demeanor, shrinking around you at speed like a sport sedan. Around town, the trade-off for that athletic poise is evident in the Fusion's firm ride. While we think there's a great balance here between sport and comfort, it's definitely weighted toward the European end of the spectrum. One aspect that's top-notch by any regional definition is noise suppression, which approaches luxury grade.

Under the hood, the base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is a serviceable workhorse, but it's a carry-over from the previous-generation Fusion; you're not getting the latest and greatest. The pint-sized turbo 3-cylinder is more in tune with the times, delivering both satisfying fuel economy and decent punch. The 2.0-liter turbo is saucier, no doubt, but it also packs some extra pounds. The difference is more like going from mild to medium salsa, especially with the weighty all-wheel-drive system aboard.

As for the Fusion Hybrid, it feels quite responsive underfoot thanks to the always-on torque of its electric motor, and the surprisingly attentive CVT is happy to follow orders. The Hybrid's gas engine is noisy, though, as if it's grumbling at you for having woken it up.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Hyundai Sonata -- The recently redesigned Sonata is a very appealing alternative, offering sophisticated style, great value and an available Hybrid variant.

2015 Toyota Camry -- The Camry Hybrid is the Fusion Hybrid's closest competitor, and we wouldn't buy one before trying the other.

2015 Honda Accord -- The Accord Hybrid is late to the game, but it's also the most fuel-efficient car in its class.

Used Lincoln MKZ -- If you like the Fusion's basic formula but want more luxury, the MKZ is Lincoln's version of the car. Pricing for lightly used specimens falls readily into Fusion territory.

AutoTrader's Advice

Our pick would be an SE with the 1.5-liter turbo. It's a satisfying combination that won't break the bank.

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2015 Ford Fusion: New Car Review - Autotrader