The Ford Fusion and C-MAX Energi are finally here and the wait was well worth it. Both cars offer plenty of reasons to make your next car a plug-in hybrid that might be a Ford.
Ford Fusion. The Ford Fusion is an interesting car. Its is the brainchild of the Mullaly-Ford Junior duo that was introduced to beef up the company’s sagging product portfolio. Originally based on the European Ford Mondeo platform, the original hybrid greatly impressed me a few years back. It was one of the only cars you could drive on electricity alone at speeds up to 47 MPH. Talk about a hypermiler’s dream. In fact, someone clocked in at over a 1,000 miles on a tank of gas on one of those.
Auto, EV, EV+. The Fusion Energy, as with the C-MAX Energy comes with a three system drive mode. Auto uses the electric motor with the engine stepping to recharge the battery once depleted and power the wheels. In EV mode, you only use the battery and electric motor, good for 20 miles or so. Last year Ford introduced EV+, a system that predicts where you are in relation to your destination and allows you choose whether electricity alone will work or if you will need gasoline to reach your final destination. Let’s say you have two miles left of battery capacity and are one mile away from your destination, the EV+ setting will let you continue in EV mode. You can then charge once you have reached your destination.
That EV Zen Feeling. During my test drive I had no problem getting on the highway in full EV mode. In fact, the biggest problem was to step on the pedal more. You see, an EV relaxes you and make you feel comfortable. You feel smug driving on electrons only and let other more agitated gasoline drivers burn away their precious gasoline. How much does it relax you? A heck of a lot and that isn’t a bad on congested roads where drivers loose patience. An EV tames the beast and the world becomes a little more Zen-like. You’re no longer part of the rat pack. You glide. You ease into a lane. You just feel relaxed and don’t associate with these angry drivers. Just drive one and you will get that EV grin.
Aesthetic Wise. The new and second generation Ford Fusion have grown in size and are totally redesigned and no longer use the Ford Mondeo platform. This means the Fusion looks modern with somewhat aggressive headlights, yet still manages an overall elegance despite its modern high belt lines. A quick unofficial survey where I drove the car confirmed most people liked the lines.
Comfort & Feel. This is a modern Ford, nothing like any pre-2000 cars you used to know from the company. The Fusion handles in a predictable way with a slight body roll, something to be expected from a sedan. The interior is comparable to most modern sedans as far as finish, feel, and fit are concerened. The Microsoft SYNC system has been updated and now recognizes more commands which makes the system slightly easier to use.
I took the car at the bottom of Signal Hill’s steepest hill, a 25% grade incline where I tested the Ford Fusion Energi in both Auto and EV modes. The Fusion had no problem climbing the steep hill in both cases but in EV the trick was to step on the accelerator enough without triggering the gasoline engine. This makes for a fun driving experience.
What’s to like about the Ford Fusion Energi? Certainly its lines are pleasing and makes it stand out from the crowd. The plug-in hybrid platform is what should win many people who only travel a few miles a day. The Ford Fusion Energi can be driven all week long on electricity under 20 miles, recharge here and there if necessary and use the gasoline tank for longer trips on weekends or whe necessary. What I liked most is both Fusion and C-MAX Energi is that it lets you choose between only electricity or hybrid mode. This is a nice touch to let drivers choose, especially with its EV+ and certainly fits the Power of Choice Ford is adamant about.
Final Thoughts. We waited a long time to see what Ford would do with a plug-in hybrid and the results are very good so far. As with all plug-in hybrids, you do sacrifice some trunk space but this a sacrifice that I will gladly make if it saves me gas money. The Ford Fusion Energi is a car I would actually buy and own.