Friday, December 17, 2010

Go Green with 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid

The green initiative is in full swing for 2011. This means the automotive industry must step up their standards to give the green-conscious consumer an environmentally friendly vehicle that is also powerful, attractive, and just plain feels like a car.
Courtesy from Ford

The 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid delivers such a package. The Fusion Hybrid means it is a cross between an electric car and a regular fuel car. The electric component of the car is capable of running fully on electricity for up to 47 mph. When running on fuel, the Fusion averages 41 mpg on the highways and 36 mpg when cruising around the city. The fusion has a 2.5-liter gasoline engine that delivers 156-horsepower while also providing AC power from a 106-horsepower electric motor.

2011 Ford Fusion Buying Advice.
The 2011 Ford Fusion is the best car for you if you’re looking for a roomy and comfortable midsize sedan that delivers solid overall performance and the latest technology.    

The 2011 Ford Fusion carries over largely unchanged from the 2010 Fusion, which underwent revisions inside and out and added the 41-mpg Ford Fusion Hybrid. New features for the 2011 Fusion include Ford’s MyKey system that allows parents to set limits on their teenage drivers and a blind-spot side-view mirror included on models not otherwise fitted with the optional Blind Spot Information System. Newly optional are an HD Radio receiver and rain-sensing wipers, along with two new appearance packages. What hasn’t been added this year, however, is a turbocharged EcoBoost engine option.

Should you wait for the 2012 Ford Fusion or buy a 2011 Fusion? While the 2012 Fusion will largely remain unchanged from the present version, one anticipated addition may be worth waiting for. The 2012 Fusion is  likely to be available with Ford’s EcoBoost four-cylinder engine as a substitute for one of its current V-6s. In the 2011 Ford Explorer crossover SUV, this turbocharged 2.0-liter nets a strong 237 horsepower, which is nearly on a par with the 2011 Fusion’s 3.0-liter V6, but with four-cylinder fuel economy. Buying a 2012 Fusion, however, places you just one model-year away from the anticipated all-new 2013 Fusion. The 2013 Ford Fusion will get a cosmetic makeover that may carry more-expressive styling and is expected to switch to Ford’s global platform for midsize cars, which means it will be smaller than the current-generation 2006-2012 Fusion.

2011 Ford Fusion Changes
Styling: There are no styling changes for the 2011 Ford Fusion. Part of Fusion’s recent sales surge might be attributed to the deft sheet metal revamp performed on the 2010 model. The current nose and tail, plus a more distinctive three-bar grille, enlivened styling that dated from this sedan’s model-year 2006 introduction. It’s a strong look, trading on square-cut lines to convey a sense of solidity. The dashboard was redone, as well, gaining softer-touch surfaces and “ice blue” instrument lighting. But the layout of the dashboard – of the entire interior, really -- remains unabashedly blocky in counterpoint to the trend to graceful, sweeping interior forms. The dashboard’s distinguishing feature is a sizeable central screen display for the available Sync and navigation systems. On 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid models, the instrument cluster is interactive, animated by Ford’s EcoGuide. This features real-time LCD graphics of hybrid power routing and battery strength. It can also depict a creeping vine that adds green leaves to reward fuel- and energy-efficient driving and subtracts them to punish inefficiency. Fusion comes in a single, four-door-sedan body style. The 2011 lineup carries over largely intact and ascends from base S, SE, and SEL, to Sport models, plus the Hybrid. The Mercury Milan, which will continue for a brief and final 2011 run as Ford winds down the now-discontinued brand name, is essentially a Fusion with slightly different appearance details. The costlier Lincoln MKZ premium sedan also shares this basic engineering, but has its own styling touches; while it’s not available with a four-cylinder engine, this year it adds a hybrid powertrain.  

Mechanical: Even without an EcoBoost option, the 2011 Fusion offers what is arguably the widest variety of powertrain choices in the mid-priced, midsize class. This is another factor in Fusion’s popularity. The 2011 Fusion is available with a four-cylinder engine, two V-6s, the gas-electric hybrid, three transmissions, and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Standard on S, SE, and SEL models is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that retains its 175-horsepower rating and continues with a six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed automatic. For 2011, the automatic transmission on four-cylinder models now includes a manual gear-select function. The 2011 Fusion SE and SEL models are again available with an optional 240-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6.. Returning at the top of the line is the 2011 Fusion Sport, which came on line for 2010 and opened Fusion to a performance-enthusiast audience it had never before reached. The Sport has a 263-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, plus tauter suspension tuning and 18-inch alloy wheels. The V-6s come only with the six-speed automatic transmission, which likewise includes a manual-shift mode. All 2011 Fusions come standard with front-wheel drive, which places the weight of the engine over the front tires and benefits traction in slippery conditions. All-wheel drive (AWD) is available on the 2011 Fusion SEL V-6 and Fusion Sport models. The system normally runs in front-wheel drive, but if sensors detect slip it automatically redistributes power front-to-rear as needed to restore traction. Fusion is one of only two cars available with AWD in the mid-priced, midsize class. AWD is standard on the Subaru Legacy and optional on the Suzuki Kizashi, though the Kizashi is more of a compact-class car and comes only with a four-cylinder engine. The 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid again pairs the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor to generate the equivalent of 191 horsepower. The Fusion Hybrid has front-wheel drive and can run on gas or electric power individually or in combination. It can drive on electricity alone up to 47 mph. The Hybrid system self-charges – no plug-in required – and works through a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which has a rheostat-like delivery of power rather than set gear ratios.   

Features: Ford continues to position the 2011 Fusion as a high-tech leader in the class – a strategy that’s contributed to increased sales. Available on all but the base model is Ford’s Microsoft-developed Sync system of voice-activated navigation, communications, and entertainment connectivity. Displaying on the central dashboard screen and utilizing steering-wheel controls for many functions, the hard-drive-based Sync incorporates Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB iPod interface, 150 hours of music storage, and real-time traffic and weather mapping. Available options, depending on model, include rain-sensing automatic windshield wipers, a power moonroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a rearview camera, and Ford’s Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert. This last uses radar to detect and warn of unseen objects in adjacent traffic lanes or to the rear and sides when backing from a parking space. A new HD Radio option not only allows motorists to tune in AM and FM digital stations with improved sound (where available), it includes iTunes song tagging. The latter allows you to save artist and title information on songs heard on the radio to many recent iPods and iPhones that can later be previewed and purchased via Apple’s online music store.  offered is ambient interior lighting that can be adjusted to ice blue, purple, blue, orange, red, white, and green. Customization opportunities extend to the plastic appliqu├ęs on the central dashboard section: choices include dark-matte finishes, polished slate, brushed aluminum, and on Sport models, “Cherry Red” and “Blue Racer” that complement similarly two-toned leather-upholstery. Every 2011 Ford Fusion comes with four-wheel disc brakes with antilock control to improve control in panic stops, traction control to aid grip when starting on slick surfaces, and Ford’s AdvanceTrac antiskid system to mitigate sideways slides. Ford’s Easy Fuel innovation that eliminates the gas-filler cap also is standard, as is a manual tilt/telescope steering wheel. Newly standard for 2011 if Ford’s MyKey system that allows parents to program a special key, ostensibly for the family’s teenaged drivers, that can limit the vehicle’s top speed to 80 mph, give warnings for low-fuel and set speeds, set a maximum audio-system volume, and even mute the audio system if the seat belts aren’t duly buckled.

2011 Ford Fusion Prices
Prices for the 2011 Ford Fusion are virtually the same as with the 2010 model, which ensures it continues as a highly competitive value. Fusion’s base prices are traditionally $1,000-$2,000 below those of most rivals, and Fusion has allowed you to get into a V-6 model for the lowest cost in the class.

This value proposition of course plays a role in Fusion’s growing popularity. The current styling and interior appointments, tech-rich options list, and powertrain variety are part of the equation, too.  Fusion sales were up by nearly 18 percent through the first eight months of 2010 compared to the same period a year ago; while that’s impressive enough, those numbers are skewed a bit by a concurrent drop in August sales, which is a statistical anomaly accredited to the pronounced bump in sales the car enjoyed during last summer’s Cash for Clunkers program.

The base price range for front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder 2011 Fusions starts at $20,420 for the base S model, $21,950 for the SE, and $25,405 for the SEL. (Prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Ford’s fee for the 2010 Fusion is $725).

Base prices for the 2011 Ford Fusion with the 3.0-liter V-6 and front-wheel drive range from $24,440 for the SE, and $26,990 for the SEL. Base price for the 2011 Ford Fusion SEL with AWD is $28,840. The 2011 Ford Fusion Sport base price is $27,230 with front-wheel drive, and $29,080 with AWD.

Meanwhile, the 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid carries a starting price of $28,850. Aside from the hybrid system and CVT, its standard and optional equipment mirror those of the four-cylinder Fusion SEL model.

Among key 2011 Fusion options, the navigation system is priced at $1,775, while the Sun & Sync package on the SE model adds the power moonroof and Sync system for a reasonable $895. Sync is standard on SEL models, and for $1,795 you can add the Driver’s Vision Package, which includes the blind-spot-warning systems and incorporates a moonroof and upgraded 12-speaker Sony audio.

2011 Ford Fusion Fuel Economy
The 2011 Ford Fusion’s fuel economy remains a strong selling point. The base Fusion S with the six-speed automatic transmission is EPA rated at 23/33 mpg city/highway. Fusion S mileage slips to 22/29 with the six-speed manual. And with this same 2.5-liter four-cylinder, Fusion SE and SEL models are rated at 22/30 with automatic transmission, 22/29 with manual.

Ratings for Fusion SE and SEL models with the 3.0-liter V-6 are 18/27 with front-wheel drive, 17/24 with AWD. Hats off to Ford engineers for creating the faster, more powerful 3.5-liter Fusion Sport without a mileage penalty: it rates the same 18/27 with front-drive and 17/24 with AWD as a 3.0-liter Fusion.

Note that the 3.0-liter V-6 also has Flex Fuel capability, meaning it can run on gasoline, on the E-85 blend of 15 percent gas and 85 percent ethanol, or on any combination of gas and E85. Running exclusively on E85, fuel-economy ratings drop to 14/21 mpg with front-wheel drive and to 13/19 with AWD.

Like most true gas/electric hybrids, the 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid is most fuel-efficient in city driving, where it best exploits the ability to run on electricity alone and to automatically stop/start the gas engine when the car isn’t moving. The 2011 Fusion Hybird is rated at 41 mpg city/36 highway. These are among the best all-around figures of any car sold in the U.S. and are matched by the new Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. Only the Toyota Prius offers better fuel economy, which for 2010 (2011 figures weren’t available at this writing) was rated at 51/48 mpg. Many smaller models, such as the compact-class Honda Civic Hybrid (40/45 mpg) and the Volkswagen Jetta diesel (30/41), are lower. 
2011 Ford Fusion Release Date

The 2011 Ford Fusion went on sale in late summer 2010.
What's next for the Ford Fusion

Ford’s won well-deserved accolades for its new 3.5-liter V-6 engine that teams an efficiency-enhancing technology called direct fuel injection with the power-boosting capability of twin turborchargers. The result is an engine with the fuel-economy of a six and the muscle of a V-8. Ford dubs the approach EcoBoost and plans a family of four- and six-cylinder engines around it.

The EcoBoost V-6 is available in several Ford and Lincoln models, including the 365-horsepower Taurus SHO, but you won’t see that powerplant in the Fusion until its 2013 redesign, if ever. The 2012 Ford Fusion is likely to offer a version of the 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that’s optional in the redesigned-for-2011 Ford Explorer. It delivers 237 horsepower there and will probably boast a similar output in the Fusion, with fuel economy similar to the 2.5-liter four.

The 2013 Ford Fusion, accompanied by the 2013 MKZ, is expected to abandon its current underskin architecture, which has roots in a previous platform engineered in conjunction with Mazda. Ford is expected to consolidate the design of its next-generation midsize cars on a global platform engineered in Europe for the Ford Mondeo, a car widely praised for its road manners and roomy cabin.

Otherwise, the model-year 2010 freshening will essentially carry this generation Fusion to its conclusion with little more than trim and color details for 2012.

2011 Ford Fusion Competitors
Chevrolet Malibu: Broke out of the box to high praise and strong sales as an all-new design for model-year 2008. Most of it was deserved, but Malibu never quite matched Fusion for all-around roadability and slipped further behind after Fusion’s 2010 reskin. Still, this handsome, roomy, quiet sedan shows what GM can do when it’s on its game. Malibu comes only with front-wheel drive and a choice of four- and six-cylinder engines. Base prices start around $22,000 for the four-cylinder, around $28,000 for the V-6. Next full redesign: model-year 2013.

2011 Honda Accord: A mild facelift for model-year 2011 probably won’t silence critics of this car’s styling, but Accord warrants few complaints otherwise. Nothing in this competitive set matches its all-around quality, engineering, or fun-to-drive character. Accord’s coupe body style is sleek; its sedan is exceptionally roomy. Both come only with front-wheel drive and a choice of gasoline four- and six-cylinder engines. The sedan starts around $22,000 with the four-cylinder, $28,000 with the V-6. Accord’s next full redesign is likely for model-year 2013.

2011 Toyota Camry: The Nissan Altima also figures into this mix, but we’ll cite the Camry because it’s America’s best-selling midsize car and its hybrid model is available nationwide, like Fusion’s and unlike Altima’s. Camry’s sometimes knocked for its numb road feel and dull nature. But isolating occupants from unpleasant sensations and being known for unsensational dependability are good things -- especially at prices that start around $20,000 for the four-cylinder model.  V-6 Camrys start around $25,500. Their engine is also used by some models in Toyota’s premium Lexus line, and indeed, a loaded Camry V-6 does a fair imitation of a Lexus ES sedan at thousands less. The Camry Hybrid has about 190 horsepower, rates 31/35 mpg, and starts around $27,000. All Camrys have front-wheel drive. The next redesign is expected for model-year 2013.  

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