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Review: 2014 Ford Fusion is a taste that’s easy to acquire
NY Daily News


The 2014 Ford Fusion is priced right, and has the driving dynamics to match rivals from Toyota, Honda, Nissan and GM.

Park a 2014 Ford Fusion just about anywhere, and you can exit the car and walk away without causing a scene. This definitely wasn’t the case when the current version of the Fusion went on sale for the 2013 model year. The stylish midsize sedan surprised everyone with its front end that bore a striking resemblance to Aston Martin sports and supercars. Curious onlookers rattled off rapid-fire questions once they learned they were looking at a Ford-badged family car, and not James Bond’s latest ride.

Today, the Fusion regularly outsells every other car in its class except the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry. While it remains one of the most visually appealing 4-door sedans in America, ubiquity has made it somewhat invisible to the average consumer, even when painted in the color seen in the accompanying photos. Called Darkside, this metallic paint appears to be black, dark blue, or dark green, depending on the angle of the light.

New paint isn’t the only reason to take renewed notice of the 2014 Ford Fusion. The most popular version of the car, the SE trim level, gets a new EcoBoost engine option this year. While differences between it and the engine it replaces are slight – in terms of size, horsepower, torque, and fuel economy – they still matter, especially in this highly competitive segment.

The Ford Fusion is still one of the most handsome midsize sedans available today, even if it's no longer mistaken for an Aston Martin.

Here’s the deal. Ford sells the Fusion all around the world, and some of those regions impose heavy taxes on engines larger than 1.5 liters. Therefore, for 2014, the Fusion SE’s optional turbocharged 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine is dropped in favor of a new 1.5-liter EcoBoost turbo four – but only in Fusions with an automatic transmission. Get a stick, and you’ll still be working with the larger motor.

Check the horsepower and torque figures, and you’ll see that the Fusion’s new 1.5-liter engine is slightly more powerful when operated on regular unleaded. It makes 181 horses and 185 lb.-ft. of torque, compared to 177 hp. and 184 lb.-ft. produced by the previous 1.6-liter. However, the new engine’s power peaks at higher rpm, making it less accessible under normal driving conditions. The Fusion with the 1.5-liter EcoBoost feels sluggish when accelerating from a stop, suffering what is commonly known as turbo lag. After the revs climb, however, the Fusion snaps out of it, and the car proves energetic and engaging to drive.

The new engine is slightly more fuel efficient when equipped with the optional automatic start/stop system, which shuts the engine off when the Fusion is idling at intersections or in traffic. This particular test car didn’t have this technology, and less than half of the test miles were racked up on the highway. As a result, and because I liberally employed the 6-speed automatic transmission’s Sport mode to enliven powertrain response, this Fusion averaged 23.5 mpg. That’s slightly more than the official EPA city rating of 23 mpg, but well short of the 28-mpg rating in combined driving.

Ford has been hard at work improving the usability of the MyFord Touch interface. We had no major complaints with the system during our test drive.
Dynamically, the Fusion is expertly tuned, from electric steering that feels completely natural, to responsive brakes with a pedal that is easy to modulate. The best of the Fusion’s attributes, though, is the suspension, which is calibrated to eliminate harshness from the road surface and restricts excessive body motion without clouding communication. My test car’s optional 18-inch wheels and lower profile tires delivered a remarkable balance between road holding and ride quality.

Speaking of these wheels, they look terrific, but they’re only available with the SE Appearance Package. Ordering that package puts severe restrictions on everything from interior color to what extra-cost equipment can be added to the Fusion. My brother, who just bought a Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid in the same Darkside color as my test car, saw this SE model pull up and said: “Awww, man. I like those wheels better than the ones on my car.” If appearance is important, be certain to choose your Fusion options carefully.

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Easily the very best in its class. I cannot stand how Honda uses the same bumper on the accord for the twin tail pipes and single tail pipes. So not cool and lacking respect for its customers.
 
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