Plug-in hybrids are popping up everywhere, with most major carmakers offering some sort of vehicle that can drive solely on electricity for a while before a gasoline engine kicks in to help out. If you have a short commute, your trips to the gas station should be months apart. The 2017 Ford Fusion Energi may not be as recognizable as a Chevrolet Volt, but this more-conventional sedan may be a better fit for some buyers. Let’s take a look at how the revised 2017 Fusion Energi compares with the 2016 version.
Like every 2017 Ford Fusion, there are subtle styling changes that enhance this family sedan’s already attractive styling. The grille is a little smaller and sleeker, the headlights have been reshaped, and a chrome strip now connects the taillights. With both the 2016 and 2017, however, the only major visual differences between the Fusion Energi and its conventionally powered sibling are special badges and the small round door on the front fender that hides the electricity input.
The cabin’s tasteful design and impressive quality carry over from 2016 to 2017, but functionality has been improved. A rotary transmission selector is now standard, and besides providing visual appeal, it frees up center console space for an electronic parking brake, more useful cupholders and an additional bin for placing a smartphone. Interior storage in the 2016 Fusion Energi is comparatively meager.
Another difference for 2017 is the new luxurious Fusion Energi Platinum trim level that slathers the dash and doors in classy brown leather and covers the supportive seats in softer cream-colored hide with quilted stitching. It’s certainly the most luxurious plug-in hybrid this side of a Mercedes-Benz.
More efficient electric motors for the 2017 Ford Fusion Energi result in improved fuel economy and range, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates. The Energi will now travel an estimated 22 miles on electricity alone versus 20 (admittedly a small gain) while returning 42 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving versus 38 mpg. Together, this equates to a special EPA rating of 97 mpge (miles-per-gallon equivalent) versus 88 mpge and average annual fuel-cost savings of about $50. We should note, however, that if you have a longer commute and therefore won’t spend most of your time driving in all-electric mode, the Energi won’t be much more efficient than the standard, cheaper Fusion Hybrid. Then again, the Energi may be able to get carpool lane access.
Otherwise, Ford says it altered the Energi’s software for a more engaging driving experience and increased refinement. That sounds good, but the Fusion Energi was already one of the most comfortable, refined and surprisingly sharp hybrids to drive. We doubt you’d be missing out on much with the 2016.
Features & Technology
Technology usability was never a Fusion strong suit, and if anything, its MyFord Touch interface was a reason to think twice about the 2016 Energi. For 2017, the new SYNC 3 touchscreen is quicker, much easier to use and packed with additional features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Unlike in other Fusion models, SYNC 3 is standard.
Ford also upgraded the available automatic parking system to include perpendicular parking and enhanced the adaptive cruise control system to be able to creep along automatically in stop-and-go traffic.
We doubt you’ll be able to tell a difference between how the 2016 and 2017 Ford Fusion Energi drive, which is just fine. The Energi stands out from most other hybrids by not feeling like a weird futuristic car when you’re behind the wheel — it’s pretty normal. True, its silent, all-electric acceleration is certainly unusual, but you’re likely to appreciate the smooth kick in the pants it provides when pulling away from a traffic light. When the gas engine does kick in, its noise isn’t as obtrusive as that of some other hybrids.
You’re also likely to find that the Fusion Energi, in general, drives with a great degree of composure and sophistication. The ride is particularly impressive and comfortable yet still composed, allowing you to feel what the car is doing without also transmitting every bump in the road.
The Fusion Energi hasn’t specifically been crash-tested, but the regular 2017 Ford Fusion received improved crash-test ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Specifically, its small-overlap front crash rating went from the second-best score of Acceptable for 2016 to the best-possible Good for 2017. All other ratings for both years are Good. Changes to the optional forward-collision warning system, including the addition of pedestrian detection, resulted in IIHS upgrading its front-crash prevention rating from the lowest score, Basic, to the highest, Superior.
The differences aren’t huge, and you probably won’t be kicking yourself if you get a great deal on a 2016, but the 2017 Ford Fusion Energi is a bit more efficient, slightly better-looking and considerably more functional.