Quick Drive: 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Reviews I By John Beltz Snyder I September 27, 2012
—Santa Monica, California
While in Santa Monica to try out the new Ford Fusion (full drive review underway—stay tuned), we had the chance to take the 2013 Fusion Hybrid for a short drive through the city.
Sometimes, hybrids can feel a bit delicate. That is not the case with the new Fusion Hybrid, which feels very solid and much like a regular sedan, rather than a fragile piece of new technology. This goes from fit and finish, to ride quality, to the way the controls feel when you use them. It’s all good, sturdy, American stuff—the kind of car quality we’re now used to from the Blue Oval.
The design of the new Fusion, which carries over to the Hybrid, is a mixed bag, but mostly good. We like that Ford has broken up some of the large swaths of plastic with some subtle design elements. Some of the materials were still a little off. We weren’t big fans of the piano black plastic surrounding the door handles and cup holders—something a bit more tactile would have done well there. The cloth inserts on the doors seemed a little out-of-place. Finally, the design of the center stack looks a little flat and drab, partly because of the low visual relief of the touch controls, but fans of MyFord Touch will be used to this. In general, though, the interior offers a totally livable space, that feels like an upgrade from the last-gen model.
The Fusion Hybrid has a very quiet ride about town. It is nearly silent at stops and when going slow under electric power only. Any motor noise remains low, and is generally kept, not surprisingly, in the low area of the rev range. That’s not to say this feels weak, though. Quite the contrary, the Hybrid always felt eager to accelerate quickly. A little bit of right pedal, and there was always an appropriate, telepathic response from the powertrain, even when climbing steep grades.
When it comes time to slow down, the regenerative brakes kick in to restore electrons to the battery pack. On the left side of the instrument panel, a digital gauge gives you feedback when coming to a complete stop, letting you know how efficiently you’ve been braking. It’s not hard to get 100-percent recovery, it just takes a little forethought and a lot of smoothness when slowing down.
Like the old Fusion Hybrid, this one offers up the “Efficiency Leaves” on the right side of the instrument panel, which is a visual depiction of how efficiently you are driving. The higher the mileage, the more leaves grow. Drive too aggressively, and the leaves fall off the vine. Of course, you also have actual numerical figures to give you a more exact measurement of fuel economy. On our short, hilly, traffic-laden test drive, we fell far short of the advertised 47 mile-per-gallon figure. We actually averaged 36.9 mpg—and we admit to hot-footing it here and there, as well as keeping the air conditioning on blast. During the second half of our drive, though, that number was steadily increasing, and probably would have continued to climb were we to extend our drive route.
We liked putting the Hybrid through corners. The steering weighted up nicely, and the wheel felt substantial in hand. There weren’t a lot of body movements, and information about the road surface was telegraphed acceptably through steering wheel and seat. Because of the aggressive raking of the windshield, the averagely thick A-pillar did tend to obstruct our view in certain curves, but otherwise, visibility was good overall.
This is going to be a great car for people who appreciate what a hybrid can do for fuel economy, but still want a substantial sedan to get them to their destination. It’s not too weird or unordinary, and is actually quite appealing without seeming gaudy, smug, or boastful. Plus, if real-world fuel economy is as good as Ford is saying it is (which we really have no reason to disbelieve), it will definitely give other hybrids a run for their money.
2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid
Engine: Inline-4 and electric motor, 2.0 liters, 16v
Output: 188 hp/ [TBD] lb-ft
Weight: 3615 lb
Fuel Economy, City/Hwy: 47/47 mpg (est)
Base Price: $27,200 (est)

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