By KBB.com Editors
Now in its fifth year as Ford's point player in the heavily-populated mid-size sedan segment, the Fusion receives a major makeover for 2010 aimed at raising its profile and competitive status against key rivals like the Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry. Beyond formidable changes to the conventional lineup (Fusion S, SE, SEL and Sport, reviewed separately) the biggest news is the arrival of the first- ever Fusion Hybrid. Packing the latest and most potent gas/electric package in Ford's history, the 2010 Fusion Hybrid balances impressive performance with excellent creature comforts and mileage marks that simply blow hybrid versions of the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Chevy Malibu into the weeds. It's a car destined to remain highly appealing regardless of where the price of gasoline ultimately ends up.You'll Like This Car If...
If you're searching for a near-painless way to join the green revolution and add a major dose of high-efficiency/low-emissions running to your automotive stable, the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid has the chops to be a star on your all-driveway team.You May Not Like This Car If...
Anyone believing that real-world 40+ mpg numbers can be had without reverting to aggressively unaggressive driving techniques will be sorely disappointed in the Fusion Hybrid. And if you really require the highest-mileage mid-size sedan, the new Toyota Prius is still the most fuel-efficient car on the road.What's Significant About This Car?
This latest entry to Ford's expanding hybrid family boasts the style, space, comfort, technology and exceptional fuel efficiency to be fully competitive with the best the world has to offer.Driving It Driving Impressions
Ford has done an admirable job of making its new Fusion Hybrid the kind of sedan that will appeal to any type of driver and not just dedicated "hypermilers." The various powertrain elements, including its efficient Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (eCVT) and super-efficient regenerative braking system are very well integrated and start/stop transitions are nearly imperceptible. When called upon to be at its quickest, the Hybrid can accelerate from 0-60 mph in around 8.5 seconds. Those who do intend to go for the big mpg numbers will find its EcoGuide dash an impressively helpful travelmate, albeit one with a somewhat steep initial learning curve. Although heavier than any other Fusion model save for the Sport AWD, the mid-rear positioning of the Hybrid's trimmed-down battery pack helps maintain good overall balance and allows the car to be driven with moderate levels of enthusiasm that are limited more by the amount of grip in its low-rolling-resistance tires than anything else.Favorite Features
Matched with a fuel-sipping 2.5-liter gas engine, the Fusion's Hybrid's new smaller, lighter, and more powerful Nickel-Metal Hydride battery teams with a Variable Voltage Controller that effectively "supercharges" operations of its higher-output motor/generator unit plus ultra-efficient regenerative braking circuitry to deliver a stellar mix of performance and economy.
SmartGauge with EcoGuide Display
Effective without being intrusive, this engaging man-machine interface element offers drivers a choice of four different modes – Inform, Enlighten, Engage, Empower – that provide varying degrees of data to help bolster mpg stats in the Fusion Hybrid, no matter how you choose to drive it.
Displaying the same kind of upgrades that benefit the rest of the Fusion line, the Hybrid's cabin is a study in soft-touch surfaces and metallic accents. Adding user-friendliness to its admittedly richer character are a revamped center stack and more logically-positioned control layouts. The biggest difference is the Hybrid's SmartGauge package with its efficiency-assisting EcoGuide variable dash display. Like other Fusions, the Hybrid's more deeply bolstered front buckets provide greater support and comfort while its rear bench has sufficient head and leg room to comfortably accommodate two adults or carry three for shorter distances. Battery packaging demands do eliminate the non-Hybrid's 60/40 split-folding seatback and trim trunk capacity from 16.5 cubic feet to a still-usable 11.8.Exterior
The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid shares the same new look as its conventional siblings, which received a comprehensive visual refresh that imparts a sportier appearance and improved aerodynamics. Everything from the A-pillar forward is new, from a hood with a prominent power bulge and smartly flared fenders to bolder fascia, headlamp and grille treatments that help create a lower, wider look. Complementing the revamp, new underbody shields help channel air more efficiently to the rear, which features reshaped, multi-element taillamps and a redrawn decklid. Beyond its distinctive badging, the Fusion Hybrid gets unique 15-spoke alloy wheels with 225/50 V-rated low-rolling-resistance all-season tires.Notable Standard Equipment
The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid's impressive feature set mirrors that of the SEL and starts with a full assortment of power assists including electrically adjustable driver and front-passenger seats. Other upscale touches include dual-zone auto climate control, SYNC voice-activated communications and entertainment system with 911 assist, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, redundant steering wheel controls, keyless remote entry and cruise control. Beyond its unique powertrain components, the Hybrid's key differentiators include an upgraded sound system, 110V power outlet, eco-friendly cloth upholstery, a reverse-parking sensors and a SmartGauge with EcoDrive multi-mode dash. Like all Fusion models, the Hybrid comes with stability/traction control, anti-lock brakes and front/front-side/side-curtain airbags.Notable Optional Equipment
Already packing all of the SEL's bounty of standards, Fusion Hybrid upgrades include only leather upholstery, a voice-activated navigation system, a Driver's Vision Package (rear-view camera plus Blind Spot Information System) and the Moon & Tune Package (moonroof paired with a 12-speaker Sony premium audio system).Under the Hood
The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid's 2.5-liter in-line four-cylinder is the same engine used in the Escape Hybrid and employs Atkinson Cycle variable valve timing to help boost its efficiency. While the delayed closing of its intake valves dings peak torque, any slack is fully compensated for by the electric side of the equation that matches it with a 275 V Nickel-Metal Hydride battery pack and a 106-horsepower electric motor to make a combined 191 net horsepower. A Variable Voltage Controller and high-performance regenerative braking ensure exceptional response and allow the Fusion Hybrid to run 0-60 mph in about 8.5 seconds, operate in pure EV mode at up to 47 mph, double its number of start/stop cycles, quickly recharge the battery even while cruising and earn outstanding 41 city/36 highway mpg EPA numbers.
2.5-liter in-line 4 with 93-kilowatt Permanent Magnet Synchronous Electric Motor
156 horsepower @ 6000 rpm/106 horsepower @ 6500 rpm (191 net horsepower)
136 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm/166 lb.-ft. of torque @ 0-3000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 41/36
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is just under $28,000, roughly $3,000 more than a four-cylinder SEL model. A fully loaded car will bottom line around $32,500. While those numbers make the new Fusion Hybrid modestly to moderately more expensive than all of its prime hybrid rivals currently on sale, it also offers more power and considerably better fuel economy. Only the somewhat smaller – but still mid-size – Toyota Prius holds a substantial edge in both the price and mileage-making departments. While there's reason to suspect resale values on the Fusion Hybrid will exceed other members of the lineup, the relative retained-value percentages for both the Toyota and Honda hybrids are expected to be measurably higher.