CarNewsCafe tests Ford’s first plug-in hybrid, the Fusion Energi. After 7 days behind the wheel, find out what this car can do for you.
Ford lent us a Fusion Energi to test drive it for seven days. We drove about 500 miles, mostly drove in economy mode, one third on highway, the rest with mixed city and light suburban driving. Before we continue, let’s get something out of the way. Hybrids sacrifice some trunk space, but you will more than make up for it by saving on gasoline.
Fusion, The Best-Looking Sedan on The Market?
It’s always impressive to hear what people have to say about the Fusion. Beautiful, gorgeous, stunning, are but a few examples. What’s even more impressive is hearing what they stepping in: “That’s a Ford?” The Fusion is a very good-looking car. We even heard journalists admit to this. The new Fusion is more comfortable with more interior space than the previous. This is the car you won’t feel embarrassed driving to work, or driving your boss around. The rear seats are very comfortable and offer plenty of room. The interior shows how much the company paid attention to details and the passenger experience.
Power of Choice, Ease of Use.
Ford’s Power of Choice gives you several energy solutions for each cars. For instance, the Fusion can have a gasoline engine, hybrid and plug-in hybrid. It comes with a choice of the 2.5L Duratec 16V I4 Engine, 1.6L Ti-VCT GTDI I-4 EcoBoost, 1.5L Ti-VCT GTDI I-4 EcoBoost, 2.0L Ti-VCT GTDI I-4 EcoBoost, 2.0L Atkinson-Cycle I-4 Hybrid Engine, and the 2.0L Atkinson-Cycle I-4 Energi Plug-In Hybrid Engine.
The car was great to live with after spending seven days with it. It gave us a sense of freedom by letting us choose how we wanted to drive the car, electric or hybrid mode for sustained highway driving. We whisked around town in electric mode, while surprising a few cars with its get up and go. It was a liberating experience going grocery shopping, over friends’ place or to the beach on electricity alone. The Fusion easily handles any of these situations on electricity alone. For greater distance, the hybrid system is particularly efficient, optimizing your energy efficiency.
We started in EV mode on a trip to Encinitas from Long Beach, California. Once on the highway, we switched to hybrid. By using the EV+ mode, located on the right hand side of the console tunnel, we told the Fusion to keep the battery pack for later use. We drove around town on electricity and headed back on the highway the same way. We returned home after having visited friends with enough electricity in the pack.
EV+ Mode, The Smart Way There.
Ford has a smart new feature called EV+, which combines GPS data to force the car to use its limited electric power if you are close to your final destination. It adapts by recognizing the closer you are to a frequent destination, the more it will operate in electric-only mode. Let’s say you’re about to arrive home and there is little electricity in the pack, instead of starting the gasoline engine, it knows you are close to your final destination and will use the remainder of the electricity. This saves gasoline by extracting as much electricity from the battery that would otherwise be possible in pure hybrid mode. This feature is available on Ford’s Fusion and C-Max hybrids as well as its C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids.
Regenerative Braking Efficiency.
The Ford Fusion Energi is chock full of goodies, one of which is the “Coaching” aids that help you squeeze as much efficiency as possible. Regenerative braking works by seamlessly reverses the electric motor’s poles, turning it to an alternator, putting electricity back into the pack. The system displays your efficiency in percentage. The better you brake, the closer to 100 percent you get. This is achieved by coasting to a stop as long as you can. If you slam on the brakes, that number drops below 60%. Ford claims its cars recoups well over 90% of its braking energy, normally lost in heat. We found ourselves several times with a depleted pack and through careful coasting to stops, recharged the pack enough to use the car in electric mode again.
Next we’ll look at the technical aspects of the Ford Fusion Energi, its competition and our final thoughts.