Long, unexpected trips have a tendency to show a car's true character, especially when the route is unfamiliar and occurs in the thick of rush-hour traffic. I found myself facing this exact scenario recently when a 200-plus mile excursion became a necessity on short notice. Faced with these road-going challenges, I grabbed the keys to a 2017 Fusion Platinum Hybrid. Late the next day, after a 16-hour grind in which about half of those hours were spent on the road going from South Orange County, California, to Santa Clarita and back, I'm glad Ford's midsize sedan had my back.

Unexpectedly luxurious interior

I mean that sentence literally. Before even pressing the start button or turning the Fusion's fancy rotary knob to drive, the driver seat's level of comfort proclaimed this Ford's Platinum distinction. Above even the Titanium trim, the new Fusion Platinum ladles on the niceties, and its premium-grade, quilted leather is among the most noticeable. In addition to covering the seats, the hide wraps around the door panels, windowsills and instrument panel giving the Fusion Platinum the look and feel of a luxury car.

Pragmatically, the driver's seat is supremely comfortable. Its 10-way power adjustability made it easy to find a good driving position, as did its power-adjustable steering column. Finally, the front seats also feature heating and cooling modes. My posterior was thankful for the latter when evening temperatures were still in the triple digits in the valley region north of Los Angeles.

Robust technology

The Fusion Hybrid's comfortable interior greatly helped make the miles go by faster, and so did its infotainment system. In addition to the Sync3 system that bundles audio, phone and navigation functions, this top-of-the-line Fusion featured a 12-speaker premium Sony audio system. It sounds impressive, and flawlessly played everything from podcasts to CDs.

The nav system, meanwhile, saved me from potentially hours more in traffic. Just as I was departing for the trip home, it notified me of heavy traffic and offered an alterative. Like kismet, this happened just as the news radio station I was listening to reported on a bad crash and the resulting SigAlert on the very freeway to which I was headed. The nav system guided me on arterial roads and around the scene.

The only odd thing I experienced with the system came in the following days. Though I had canceled the route, upon restarting the car the nav wanted to direct me there. I’d again cancel the route, only to have the same thing happen upon starting the next time. Seriously, Fusion, one trip was enough.

Also: See the 12 Kelley Blue Book Best Buys of 2017

Long-range, with built-in value

In standard form, the new Ford Fusion Platinum trim comes with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes a robust 245 horsepower. The hybrid is notably less potent, making a total of 188 horsepower. What the hybrid gives up in zoom, it gains in fuel economy, earning EPA city/highway figures of 43/41 mpg. Those numbers can't match the numbers of the Accord Hybrid or new Camry Hybrid which earn up to 49 mpg and 50 mpg, respectively, but the Fusion’s are still impressive and a substantially more climb than the gas-only model.

As for performance, the hybrid's is just adequate. Getting up short freeway onramps and higher-speed passing required pedal-to-the-floor acceleration resulting in notable droning from the engine and CVT automatic transmission. That's often the tradeoff with a hybrid, a pill that was easier to swallow after I finally filled up with gas and saw its range estimated at over 530 miles.

Our Ford Fusion Hybrid Platinum model comes with an as-tested price of $37,895. That's the very top for this model, and considering its luxury-like amenities, stylish looks and inherent efficiency, still feels like a good value. Of course, if you simply want new Fusion Hybrid at the lowest cost, a base S model starts significantly lower at just over $26,000.

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