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2017 Ford Fusion: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader September 2016

Some soft-hearted people might feel sorry for the 2017 Ford Fusion. There are two big attention-getters on its block, and as a result, the Fusion doesn't always get the notice it deserves. Of course, the block we're talking about is the popular midsize sedan segment, and the two bullies are the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

However, you shouldn't feel bad for the Fusion. There's room for more than two midsize sedans, and Ford considers Fusion to be a "challenger brand." Fusion sales have been around the 300,000 mark for each of the past 3 years, and it looks as if they'll match or top that number in 2016.

Ford's not standing still, though. They've given Fusion a thorough refreshing for 2017, including some new trim levels, performance enhancements, technology tweaks and other updates designed to bring the spotlight its way.

What's New for 2017?

Fusion receives two new trim levels for 2017, Fusion Platinum and Fusion V6 Sport. All trim levels benefit from interior updates, including a new rotary shift dial and greater storage. You'll have to look closely to spot the minor exterior changes, which are focused on the front- and rear-end designs. More noticeable are technology improvements in safety, driver assistance and telematics. Fusion drivers will now have access to adaptive cruise control, automatic parallel and perpendicular parking and the first implementation of SYNC 3 and SYNC Connect.

What We Like

A wide range of choices in trim level; all-wheel drive (AWD) available on some models; near-luxury features on the new Platinum trim; four gas-only engines and two hybrid engine choices

What We Don't

Some desirable features, like continuously variable damping, are only available in specific upper (more expensive) trim levels; no manual transmission option, even in the V6 Sport model

How Much?

$22,120-$39,120

Fuel Economy

Fusion has a broad range of choices when it comes to powertrains and a broad range of fuel economy ratings. In the conventional gasoline-only category, there's a normally aspirated (non-turbo) 2.5-liter 4-cylinder rated to achieve 21 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. Then, there are three turbocharged engines (EcoBoost in Ford-speak), starting with a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder with a 23 mpg city/34 mpg hwy rating. Next up the ladder is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 21 mpg city/31 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive and 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive. King of the hill is the 2.7-liter V6 that's shoehorned into the new Sport trim level, delivering 17 mpg city/26 mpg hwy.

There are two hybrid powertrain choices, the Hybrid, which gets 43 mpg city/41 mpg hwy, and the Energi, a plug-in hybrid that receives an impressive 104 mpgE city/91 mpgE hwy rating for electric mode operation.

Standard Features & Options

Ford builds the Fusion in 12 (that's right, 12) trim levels across gasoline, hybrid and plug-in models.

S models come with push-button start, a rotary gear shift dial and SYNC infotainment/telematics. The standard features pile up as the trim levels and prices rise.

SE adds power driver's and passenger's seats and the option to add adaptive cruise control, auto stop/start, voice-activated navigation with SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link, SYNC 3, SYNC Connect, enhanced park assist and all-wheel drive.

Titanium models add leather seating surfaces, standard SYNC 3 and a 12-speaker Sony audio system.

Sport comes with standard AWD, 19-inch painted premium wheels and active noise cancellation.

Platinum models have all that and the kitchen sink, with cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, a power moonroof, universal garage door opener and 19-in polished aluminum wheels standard and all-wheel drive optional.

Safety

2017 Fusion received a Good rating in all categories from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Superior for front crash prevention (with optional equipment) and a 5-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Ford's loaded the Fusion with an impressive range of standard safety features, including AdvanceTrac electronic stability control and traction control, a full complement of airbags, child-safety rear-door locks, daytime running lamps, tire-pressure monitoring, LATCH connections for child-safety seats, a perimeter alarm, a rear-view camera and SecuriLock Passive Anti-Theft System.

Optional safety systems (not available on all trim levels) lean toward the high-tech, like a blind spot information system (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, lane-keeping assist and pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection.

Behind the Wheel

There's a fine line between refined and bland, and the Fusion manages to walk that tightrope successfully. Sitting behind the wheel, you have to admire the comfortable and convenient way the dashboard and controls are arrayed. Everything's in the right place, and the change to a rotary shift dial frees up space in the center console for more storage. The cabin feels roomy and comfortable. The second row is also pleasantly proportioned, with enough space for three adults to share. There are no sharp edges or glaring gaps in the Fusion. Everything fits together beautifully, and surfaces reward your touch with pleasant textures.

Once underway, the most impressive feature in the Fusion is what's not there, and that's road noise and wind noise. Improved engine seals and acoustic glass help with that.

Horsepower can be enticing, but as with all delicious features, it comes at a price. In Fusion's case, the more horsepower you choose, the more fun you can have driving. Of course, the dollars and cents go up proportionally, and the fuel economy numbers go down (which also costs dollars and cents). We found the sweet spot in the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine that comes standard in the Titanium and Platinum models and optional in SE. With 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost gives the Fusion a fun amount of zip that balances well with the chassis, brakes and suspension. We have yet to drive the Sport V6, but we're sure we'll like its over-the-top 325-hp/380 lb-ft of torque V6. Whether it makes sense from a bottom-line view remains to be seen.

The choice between hybrid and plug-in hybrid models depends on your own infrastructure. If you have a garage with adequate power or you're willing to add a dedicated line for 220-volt charging, the Energi models can be great choices. If you're just looking for the best hybrid bang for your buck, the Hybrid S is a bargain without bundled features to hike the price.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Honda Accord and Honda Accord Hybrid -- Newly refreshed, the Accord lineup celebrates its 40th anniversary with a lineup that's nearly as broad as Fusion's. Some trim levels can even be ordered with a manual transmission.

2017 Toyota Camry and Toyota Camry Hybrid -- The other big dog on the block, Camry has a reputation as the default choice for midsize sedan buyers. The trade-off for emotional involvement is appliance-like reliability. Maybe not such a bad swap.

2017 Hyundai Sonata and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid -- Hyundai applies its value formula to the midsize sedan, providing a roomy cabin with an impressive list of standard and premium features.

Autotrader's Advice

Ford is one of the world's biggest automakers, but somehow, Fusion manages to come off as the scrappy underdog in this class. The 2017 Ford Fusion is the best-looking, best-driving, best-built Fusion yet, and the range of selection from base S to Platinum is truly impressive. Drive the Fusion before you buy anything else, and see if this scrappy sedan catches your eye. Ford's worked hard to push its midsize sedan out of the ordinary territory, and in many ways, it's a car worth considering.

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2017 Ford Fusion: New Car Review - Autotrader