Ford plans to zoom to the head of the midsize sedan pack by mid-2016 with a number of additions to the Fusion family that include enhanced technology, more luxury, updated hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, and more performance. Much more.

Whether these updates will propel the Fusion to the top spot in segment sales remains to be seen. But in one area -- performance -- Ford looks like a winner. Hottest-in-class seems will be a Ford bragging point when the new Fusion Sport goes on sale in late summer.

Ecoboost power

Introduced in Detroit, the Sport will be propelled by Ford’s 2.7-liter Ecoboost V-6, huffing up 325 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, far more thrust than any of its segment rivals. The turbo engine will send power to all four wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission controlled by a new rotary dial gear selector, similar to Jaguar, and the driver will also have the option of self-shifting via steering column-mounted paddles.

Other elements distinguishing the Sport are LED head- and fog lights,19-inch wheels, bigger brakes, stiffer antiroll bars, and auto adjust damping controlled by a forward-looking camera that detects potholes and adjusts the suspension to mitigate impacts.

The Sport’s key cosmetic distinction is a new black mesh grille. There’s also a rear decklid spoiler, an option on other Fusions, and a vent below the left front fog light that feeds air to the turbocharger’s intercooler.

Hybrid Refinements 

Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid Energi receive new software and new electric motors, designed to improve system efficiency. A plug-in Hybrid, the Energi’s lithium-ion battery pack is capable of taking the car 19 miles on electric power, with a range of 500 miles, according to Ford, when the system switches to the 2.0-liter Ecoboost 4-cylinder engine.

Ford also claims the Energi battery pack can be recharged at night, during low electric power demand, in just 2.5 hours, with appropriate equipment. The system brain can determine the optimal time to charge at lowest power prices.

Fusion will also be available in a new Platinum trim level, distinguished by a painted grille, 19-inch wheels, and, more significant, cocoa leather interior trim.

New Tech

Ford is also touting a number of new tech and safety features that will be available in the ’17 Fusion.The list includes new versions of the company’s infotainment and connectivity systems, SYNC 3 and SYNC Connect (faster performance, improved voice recognition, already available in Explorer); Enhanced Park Assist, with a new perpendicular parking feature; and auto stop/start for models equipped with Ford’s 1.5-liter Ecoboost engine.

New available safety features include pre-collision assistance with pedestrian detection; adaptive cruise control with stop and go capability; lane departure warning with lane-keeping assist; and inflatable rear seatbelts.

The updated Fusions are due to go on sale early this summer as 2017 models. Base MSRPs are: Fusion S, $22,995; Fusion Hybrid, $26,060; Fusion Energi, $33,995; Fusion Platinum, $37,495; Fusion Energi Platinum, $41,995. The Fusion Sport will arrive in late summer or early, with a base MSRP of $34,350.


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