Think of the 2014 Ford Fusion as a utilitarian midsize sedan. The Fusion starts under $23,000 and can reach up and above $40,000 for an option-loaded Titanium model. The 4-door, 5-passenger Fusion offers six powertrain choices -- including a hybrid model and the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid (good for 21 miles on electricity alone) -- and the availability of all-wheel drive. And every Ford Fusion is blessed with 5-star crash-test ratings by the government.
For the $27,595 that our front-wheel-drive Ford Fusion SE cost, we were treated to one fine looking midsize sedan. Contrary to popular delusion, the Fusion's attraction is not defined solely by its grille. There's not a bad-looking angle on the car. Only the Mazda6 can compete with it in a midsize-sedan beauty pageant.
Along with the all-new, all-wheel-drive 2015 Subaru Legacy, the Fusion and the Mazda6 also battled it out for sports-sedan honors through the tangled mountain-road sections of our comparison test. Equipped with a 178-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder EcoBoost engine and 6-speed automatic transmission, the 2014 Fusion drew on its 177 lb-ft of always-ready torque to snap out of corners and pass less-inspired vehicles when the straights permitted. The Fusion's responsive steering and suspension setup provided further evidence of a trend we're seeing at Ford to inject an extra dose of unexpected fun into its vehicles -- Fusion, Focus, Fiesta, Escape. Despite a bit of initial pedal mushiness, the car's brakes reeled in the Fusion as efficiently as any other midsize sedan in our group.
Delightfully, the SE 1.5 isn't even the wildest beast of the Fusion bunch. That snarl belongs to models equipped with Ford's 240-horsepower 2.0-liter EcoBoost 4-cylinder, which thrusts 270 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm. If raw performance captures you, this is the Fusion engine to shop for -- and it's the only way to get an all-wheel-drive 2014 Ford Fusion. City/highway fuel economy isn't all that -- 22/33 mpg in front-drive form, 22/31 with all-wheel drive -- but at least you're getting V6-quality power that starts around $27,000.
For everyday driving, the Ford Fusion's sportier personality adapts easily to daily commutes or the long highway miles of a road trip. The interior speaks contemporary without showing off, and the materials are generally on par for this class. The front bucket seats were very supportive. We weren't impressed, however, with the center stack's tiny display or the lack of a backup camera -- we would recommend optioning up to the big-screen Sync/MyFord Touch system, though the system's Bluetooth setup can sometimes be a chore. The Fusion's high beltline is good for styling, but less so for seeing out the sides and rear of this midsize sedan.
Moving further back, the Ford Fusion midsize sedan is not a star-player for rear-seat legroom, although headroom is great. For cargo enthusiasts, the Fusion offers 16.0 cubic feet of trunkspace -- excellent for the class -- and the lowest liftover among our eight competitors.
Bottom line: Ford's gotten good at putting performance into its cars without sacrificing day-to-day comfort, and the 2014 Fusion is a prime example.
How much should you pay for a new Ford Fusion? How does its 5-Year Cost to Own stack up? Our Ford Fusion Editors' Page is your gateway to answers.
If you're still looking around, check out the other seven cars included in our 2014 Midsize Sedan Comparison Test.