Ford took their sweet time introducing us to the new Fusion this morning but, boy, was it worth it. What you see above is easily the best-looking midsize sedan since the first-generation Mazda6. You’re free to disagree of course. That’s the beauty of America, after all. Being wrong is well within your rights. If you’re reading this from beyond our borders, then you may or may not be at liberty to contest our assertion. That being the case, you’re looking at the new Mondeo, and the rest still applies.
Ford spent a solid fifteen minutes regurgitating the salient details of my commentary from last March (next time, just link to us in the press kit, guys), then stepped aside to let this beauty out into the spotlight. Positive reaction was universal. And if you ask us, this Fusion is also a bit of a middle finger to Ford’s former “prestige” lineups, taking obvious cues from recent Aston Martins and Jaguars (especially in the grille and d-pillar). And it works. There hasn’t been a more attractive volume midsize design since Volkswagen gave us the B5 Passat.[nggallery id=202]
Ford press release and photos after the jump
DETROIT, Jan. 9, 2012 – Ford’s all-new Fusion brings alive the next generation of more expressive vehicles from Ford and is the first sedan to offer gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions – each expected to deliver top fuel economy and an engaging driving experience.
Featuring a sleek silhouette and fresh face, the all-new Fusion is the latest in a series of vehicles from Ford – following the 2011 Fiesta subcompact and 2012 Focus small cars – developed to satisfy customers everywhere looking for leading fuel efficiency, helpful technologies and game-changing looks.
“Our vision for Fusion was clear – deliver the very best of what ‘One Ford’ stands for,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president of Global Product Development. “We brought our global teams together around a blank slate with the charge to develop a midsize car with ground- breaking design and jaw-dropping fuel economy – one that featured technologies to help make our customers safer and better drivers. This car is the result.”
Fusion is revealed in North America in S, SE and range-topping Titanium series and points to the next Ford Mondeo for world markets.
Triple-crown fuel efficiency
New Fusion is expected to deliver best-in-class fuel economy across customers’ choice of gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid sub-segments, delivering on Ford’s commitment to be the fuel-efficiency leader – or among the leaders – with each new model brought to market.
Fusion brings the broadest selection of fuel-efficient powertrains in the midsize car segment. It offers hybrid and plug-in hybrid alternatives, a pair of EcoBoost™ four-cylinder engines, a normally aspirated four-cylinder engine, an automatic start stop system to shut off the engine at stationary idle, front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive applications, and a choice between automatic and manually shifted six-speed transmissions.
The 1.6-liter EcoBoost is expected to deliver best-in-class four-cylinder non-hybrid fuel efficiency of 26 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine – paired with a paddle-shifted six-speed SelectShift Automatic™ transmission, available 19-inch wheels and tires and all-wheel drive with the ability to send additional torque to the rear – is the Fusion performance option.
The Fusion Hybrid – 2010 North American Car of the Year – continues to innovate and evolve with all-new lithium-ion batteries that save weight and generate more power than previous nickel-metal hydride batteries, while raising maximum speed under electric-only power from 47 mph to 62 mph.
Fusion Hybrid also features an all-new 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gasoline engine, significantly downsized from the previous 2.5-liter unit while maintaining performance standards. This innovative powertrain is anticipated to deliver best-in-class fuel economy of 47 mpg in city driving and 44 mpg on the highway.
Fusion Hybrid fuel economy stands to outperform the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid by 4 mpg city and 5 mpg highway and the 2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid by 12 mpg and 4 mpg, respectively.
Topping the fuel-efficiency ladder is the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, aiming to be the most fuel-efficient midsize car in the world. Arriving this fall, Fusion Energi is anticipated to deliver more than 100 MPGe, a mile per gallon equivalency metric for electrified vehicles. This is 8 MPGe more than the Chevrolet Volt and 13 MPGe more than the projected efficiency of the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid model.
The next-generation Fusion 1.6-liter is the first automatic-transmission Ford product offered with an automatic start-stop system. It shuts off engine power smoothly when the car is stopped and seamlessly restarts as the driver releases the brake pedal, helping Fusion to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by approximately 3.5 percent.
Fusion looks out for you
The all-new Fusion offers an unprecedented portfolio of driver assistance and convenience technologies based on sensors, cameras and radar that enable the car to see and respond.
Fusion can help drivers maintain proper lane position, adjust vehicle speed to changing traffic conditions, identify suitable parking spaces and help park, even aiding drivers backing out of parking space where visibility is obstructed. Specific technologies include:
- Lane Keeping System: This class-exclusive technology consists of three elements to help a driver maintain proper lane position. Using a small, forward-facing camera behind the inside rearview mirror, the system “looks” down the road, monitoring lane lines to determine that the car is on course. The system will alert a driver if drowsiness or erratic lane-keeping is detected. The second element warns a driver with a steering wheel vibration if the Fusion drifts too close to lane markings. Finally, lane keeping aid will actually apply pressure on the steering to help bring the car back into proper lane position
- Adaptive cruise control: Using forward-looking radar, this system “looks” down the road when activated, slowing the Fusion when slower traffic is detected ahead. Adaptive cruise control enables collision warning with brake support to help slow the car if the potential of a crash is detected
- Active park assist: Employing sensors, this technology can identify a suitable parallel parking space, calculate the trajectory and steer the car to properly position it within the spot. All a driver need do is operate accelerator and brake pedals
- Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) with cross-traffic alert: Sensors in both Fusion rear quarter-panels are able to detect traffic in a driver’s blind spot, providing both audible and visual warnings if traffic – unseen by the driver – is detected. BLIS technology enables cross-traffic alert, warning the driver of oncoming traffic when backing out of a parking space with obstructed views, such as between two large vans
The power of voice
The all-new Fusion offers the latest iteration of Ford’s award-winning, industry-exclusive SYNC® communications and entertainment system, which enables voice-activated communication through a driver’s mobile phone and interaction with the car’s audio system.
Fusion also offers the latest version of MyFord Touch®, allowing a driver to interact with vehicle systems through voice control, a touch screen tap or a conventional button.
Both SYNC and MyFord Touch – powered by SYNC – help reduce the potential for driver distraction through voice-controlled functionality, allowing drivers to keep hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
Different, by design
“The previous Fusion was an easy purchase for a customer to rationalize,” said Chris Hamilton, chief exterior designer for the next-generation model. “Our design goal for the new car was to give the mainstream sedan buyer a top-drawer visual experience, adding some emotional appeal to an already sensible choice.”
These five elements provided direction for the design team behind the all-new Fusion:
- Silhouette innovation: Fusion’s sleek profile sets it apart from the powertrain/cabin/trunk “three-box” designs synonymous with midsize sedans
- Perceived efficiency: Fusion character lines sweeping to the rear and thin roof pillars suggest the car is nimble and light on its feet
- Refined surface language: Fusion demonstrates that a tasteful, well-executed design does not require add-ons or visual clutter
- Technical graphics: Fusion’s functional design elements such as headlamps, LED taillamps and polished exhaust tips communicate enhanced technological capability
- New face: Fusion signals the next evolution in Ford global design language for midsize cars and smaller
Inside, the new Fusion offers a sporty, driver-oriented environment with next-generation seating that brings expanded functionality. A higher center console supports the driver-centric theme and yields clever storage for items a driver wants to keep handy.
Additional passenger space was designed-in by moving the instrument panel toward the windshield, contributing to the cabin’s airy, open environment. Thinner, lighter frames support comfortable next-generation seats trimmed with fabric using recycled sustainable yarns.
Craftsmanship plus dynamics equals feel
Fusion design delivers on the promise of high visual quality, with improved materials, elevated levels of craftsmanship and attention to detail.
Interior surfaces are softer to the touch and interior and exterior gaps are minimized, while extra care has been taken to upholster or cover each edge and every surface a customer can touch. When the trunk lid is opened, for example, a spring-loaded cover automatically conceals the trunk latch hardware.
“The holistic goal of our craftsmanship process is to see that Fusion not only delivers a superior visual experience but also feels like quality to the customer,” said Adrian Whittle, Fusion chief engineer.
Key contributors to how the Fusion feels are the ride and handling components that maximize vehicle dynamics.
“This really is a driver’s car,” said John Jraiche, program manager. “Fusion is even more fun to drive with specially tuned electric power-assisted steering (EPAS), a MacPherson strut front suspension and an all-new premium-level multilink rear suspension – comparable to Audi and BMW configurations.”
Careful tuning by Ford’s vehicle handling and ride team has yielded a Fusion with a dynamic character that will please a well-seasoned enthusiast while increasing the confidence level of less-experienced drivers.
Fusion interior quiet reaches a new level with acoustic underbody shields and weight-saving sound-absorption material; both minimize road and powertrain noise while boosting aerodynamic efficiency to help save fuel. The all-new model adds content such as a full-perimeter hood seal to be among the midsize sedan segment leaders in giving drivers a quiet ride.
Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi models also are equipped with active noise control. This feature uses the audio system to mitigate extraneous road noise while enhancing powertrain sounds.
Strength and safety
Fusion is designed with customer safety in mind. Engineers increased its body strength by 10 percent, using more high-strength steels such as boron, and added dual first-row knee airbags and adaptive front airbags that vent and tether to conform to a specific occupant’s size, position and seatbelt usage.
The Fusion safety team targeted top-of-the-line ratings in each public domain safety benchmark, including National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ratings, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick and top ratings in world markets where the car will be sold.
The most prominent example is Fusion’s front-end architecture, as the same car must face simultaneous – and seemingly conflictive – standards across regions. The car’s front end is equipped to meet head-on and offset barrier standards for North America while still conforming to European standards for pedestrian protection – thanks to hours of computer modeling and 180 validating crash tests.
Fusion will be produced at Ford’s Hermosillo, Mexico, manufacturing facility, soon adding production at AutoAlliance International Plant in Flat Rock, Mich. The car will appear in Ford showrooms in North America and South America later this year. Mondeo will be introduced next year in Asia and Europe.