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2018 Ford Fusion Energi: New Car Review

The thing to remember about the 2018 Ford Fusion Energi is that even though it’s a plug-in hybrid, it will still work with a depleted hybrid battery. Apparently, some people look as far as the "plug-in" bit and start getting range anxiety by the very thought.

The Fusion Energi is not a completely electric vehicle, but a hybrid whose battery can be topped up by connecting it to a power source, which can then provide an extended range without using the gasoline engine. This makes it a win-win proposition, since that impressive fuel efficiency is part of a great-handling mainstream midsize sedan.

Also in the "for" column is an optional array of advanced safety features. Plus a lot of standard equipment for the entry-level model, which starts at around $34,000?? The main entry in the "against" column is reduced trunk capacity, but battery packs have to go somewhere.

What’s New for 2018?

This model year brings no changes. See the 2018 Ford Fusion Energi models for sale near you

What We Like

Good looks; smart handling; high energy efficiency; serious technology; family sedan convenience

What We Don’t

Narrow front seats; compromised trunk capacity due to hybrid/electric equipment; pedal feel of the regenerative brakes requires some acclimatizing

How Much?

$34,275-$42,275

Fuel Economy

The Fusion Energi employs a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and an electric motor. A total output of 195 horsepower goes solely to the front wheels. The transmission is a continuously variable automatic (CVT). Plug-in functionality means the lithium-ion battery pack in the trunk can be charged (in 2.5 hours with a 240-volt charger) to achieve 85 miles per hour or run for up to 21 miles purely on electric power. After that, the gasoline engine kicks in, effectively turning the Energi into a regular hybrid.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates miles per gallon equivalents (MPGe) for electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in hybrids (PHEV). In hybrid plus EV mode, the Energi’s EPA figure is 97 MPGe combined; as a regular hybrid, the Energi is estimated to achieve 42 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 5-seater 2018 Ford Fusion Energi comes in SE Luxury, Titanium and Platinum trim levels.

The SE Luxury ($34,275) has 17-inch alloy wheels, full LED lighting including fog lamps, heated exterior mirrors with puddle lamps, keyless entry/start, remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, dual LCD EcoGuide displays, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel (leather-wrapped) with auxiliary controls, a trip computer, a self-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, an 8-way power-adjustable heated driver’s seat with memory settings, a 6-way power-adjustable heated front-passenger seat, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, a Sync 3 infotainment system with voice control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, an 8-in touchscreen, Bluetooth, satellite radio, an 11-speaker audio system, an auxiliary audio input, two USB ports and a 110-volt outlet. It also includes active noise cancellation as standard, along with MyKey parental control capability and MyFord mobile app support.

The Titanium ($35,275) adds sport front seats with 8-way power adjustment on the passenger’s side, ambient cabin lighting, HD Radio and a 12-speaker Sony audio system. It’s also eligible for optional ventilated front seats.

A Driver Assist options bundle provides advanced safety features like blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assistance, rain-sensing wipers, driver-drowsiness monitoring and automatic high beams. It also features a heated steering wheel. Other options are navigation, a sunroof, a self-parking system (parallel and perpendicular) and adaptive cruise control with emergency braking.

The Platinum ($42,275) has everything listed so far, along with power adjustment for the steering and higher-quality leather.

Both Titanium and Platinum trims can be ordered with 18-in alloy wheels, and all three trims can have inflatable rear seat belts.

The trade-off in superior fuel consumption is a cargo capacity compromised by a large and rather crudely installed battery pack, which creates an unsightly bulge in the trunk floor. Luggage space is just 8.2 cu ft., maybe enough for two sets of golf clubs.

Safety

The Fusion Energi comes standard with 4-wheel antilock disc brakes and eight airbags (front, front side, front knee and full-length side curtain).

In government crash testing, the Fusion Energi received five stars out of five overall; five stars for front impacts, four stars for side impacts.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the regular Fusion its top score of Good in all major categories, except for the small-overlap front crash test, where the car still achieved the second-best Acceptable score.

Behind the Wheel

The dashboard and controls have an impressive sleekness. This is a technologically advanced vehicle with a cabin to match. Slimmer riders will enjoy the narrow, supportive front seats, but those of a broader beam might find them a bit confining.

Rear passengers are unlikely to complain. Despite the fastback roofline, there’s still enough headroom for 6-footers. Legroom is also generous.

The hybrid drivetrain makes the car feel quicker than it really is, thanks to its always-available electric torque. And the CVT is surprisingly responsive. The gasoline engine is rather noisy, though, especially at full throttle. However, this may never be an issue if the commute is short enough. Being whisked along in silence by the electric motor has its own particular thrill. And the all-electric acceleration is satisfying in its own right.

The Energi shares the sporty character of its conventional sibling. Corners are taken with confidence, while the steering is precise and direct. Around town, the ride is a bit firm, but never harsh. Overall, there’s a taut European feel that’s a bonus in this eco-conscious class.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Chevrolet Volt — Can roll up to 53 miles on battery power and has hatchback versatility.

2018 Honda Clarity PHEV — All new for 2018. Beats the Fusion Energi on electric-only range (47 miles), combined MPGe (110), power (212 hp) and trunk space (15.5 cu ft.) and it’s well-equipped. But not quite so much fun for a driver.

2018 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid — Perhaps not as involving to drive as the Ford, but has slightly more cargo space and an electric-only range of 27 miles.

2018 Toyota Prius Prime — The plug-in version of this archetypal hybrid hatchback. Has an all-electric range of 25 miles.

Autotrader’s Advice

Although the Fusion Energi starts off at a higher price than its regular hybrid counterpart, it comes with much more equipment. The SE Luxury has enough to please most people, while adding the Driver Assist package is a good move.

Find a Ford Fusion Energi for sale

 

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