Does This Hybrid Live Up to the Hype?
Since its launch earlier this year, I’ve been listening to my colleagues gush over the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. The accolades range from amazing mileage figures to the seamless operation of the hybrid system. I’ve even read that it is actually fun-to-drive.
Having experienced the new Toyota Prius earlier this year, I am beginning to believe that hybrid technology is finally ready for a broader consumer base. The price premium has come down a bit, and the technology is beginning to deliver both excellent fuel economy and better driving dynamics. Can Ford actually deliver on both?
I have the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid for the weekend and will be using Twitter to share my impressions. I drove home from NYC yesterday in relatively unobstructed traffic and got an indicated 42 MPG. If you aren’t following me on Twitter, you can do so by clicking HERE.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009 – I returned the Fusion Hybrid today and just realized I didn’t Tweet about it as much as I anticipated I would. Partial blame goes to the weather. It was simply gorgeous this weekend and I took the Fusion to the beach (or “shore” as we call it in NJ) and allowed myself to disconnect from the world on Sunday.
The Fusion shuttled me, my very tall friend Matt and his boyfriend Eric from NYC to Asbury Park, NJ and back. I mention Matt’s height because he sat in both the passenger seat and rear seat and found himself slightly cramped with someone in the opposite position. He IS 6′ 5″ though so unless you are experiencing high-altitude weather patterns like him, you should find the Fusion, hybrid or not, quite comfortable. My 5’10” self found the driver’s seat very comfortable.
Prior to the highway portion of my test drive, I was blown away with the Fusion’s nearly seamless functionality and incredible fuel economy. You have to be uber sensitive to feel the switch between electric mode and hybrid operation. In fact, I think I only really noticed it once at a stop light. Otherwise, you have to watch the ingenious gauges to tell which mode you are in.
Speaking of the gauges, they are amazing. I’ve attempted to give you an idea of how they operate by videoing them at start up (see below). The majority of the display is customizable with the operator choosing which information to display. I had every conceivable bit of information showing and was amazed at how it really altered my driving pattern. I was consciously trying to stay in EV (electric only) mode in stop-and-go traffic and used a really light foot when accelerating for fear of killing any of the leaves that “grow” when you operate the hybrid system efficiently. It trained me well as I averaged 35.7 over the time I had the vehicle and my last trip which included combination of mostly highway and some city delivering an average of 40.2 MPG. This system is designed for competitive people like me!
I insinuated above that the highway portion of my drive changed my opinion of the Fusion Hybrid. It was only during extended periods of highway driving that reminded me that this was a hybrid vehicle. At speed I felt a slight surging that I’ve felt in other hybrids. I’d say that most people wouldn’t notice it but is an odd sensation when maintaining speed. I found that engaging the cruise control remedied the situation but for me, it was a noticeably different sensation to drive at constant speeds compared to a non-hybrid vehicle.
Other than that, I have to agree with my colleagues. The Ford Fusion Hybrid was a blast to drive, handled similarly to a “normal” car and its fascinating display actually engages the driver and teaches you to be more efficient. Brilliant.
The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid starts at $27,270. Our test vehicle had heated leather seats, sunroof, upgraded Sony audio system, rear view monitor embedded in mirror, and rear parking assist. Its MSRP is $31,125.
Photos Courtesy of Ford Motor Company
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