By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/8/2011
The choices for mid-size family sedans are almost overwhelming: The Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata are just part of the list. So what makes the 2012 Ford Fusion so popular? For starters, the Fusion is a well-built car with an excellent reputation for reliability and resale. Its styling is modern and its SYNC audio and communications system is highly popular. The 2012 Fusion is also one of the few mid-size sedans to offer the option of all-wheel drive, and it drives more like a sporty import than a floating domestic. Granted, the Fusion's fuel economy isn't the best in class, but it is respectable enough. Besides, if you want optimal fuel economy, choose the 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid (reviewed separately).
If you're looking for a safe, reliable family sedan that has a bit of an edge in both the styling and handling departments, the 2012 Ford Fusion deserves a test drive. In addition to its numerous trim and option packages, the Fusion also offers a high-performance Sport model that includes the availability of all-wheel drive (AWD).
If you're all about modern design and getting the most bang for your buck, the Fusion can't hold a candle to the Hyundai Sonata or Kia Optima. Both cars feature cutting-edge styling and equipment, and can be had fully loaded for around $26,000.
Ford's 6-speed automatic transmission and 17-inch wheels are now standard on the SE trim level.
Thanks to the advanced 6-speed transmission and peppy 4-cylinder engine, even the least expensive 2012 Ford Fusion has ample power to deal with the normal demands of city and highway driving. The 3.0-liter and 3.5-liter V6 engines return respectable fuel economy while delivering vastly better acceleration and passing power. The front-wheel and all-wheel drive platforms both provide good traction in snow and slippery road conditions. Ford's EPAS (Electric Power Assist Steering) improves feedback while reducing fuel consumption (it eliminates the need for a belt-driven hydraulic pump that burdens the engine); it also reduces the Fusion's turning radius by nearly a foot, making it easier to maneuver the car. EPAS is standard on all but the Sport model, which retains a hydraulic setup still preferred by most enthusiast drivers. The Fusion's capable suspension helps minimize roll while still returning a smooth and quiet ride.
Impressive Powertrain Combinations
Advanced engines and transmissions make all conventional 2012 Ford Fusion models engaging to drive. Both the 4-cylinder and V6 engines offer outstanding fuel economy and run on regular gas (and/or E85 in the case of the 3.0-liter). Ford's newest 6-speed automatic employs a manual-style SelectShift gate and can be paired with either V6 engine.
SYNC Voice-Activated Communications
Standard in the 2012 Ford Fusion SEL and Fusion Sport and available in S and SE models, the SYNC package is arguably the most useful and user-friendly multi-purpose input/output system on the market today. The system includes 911 Assist capability, Traffic, Directions and Information, Vehicle Health Report diagnostics, and can integrate with the optional on-board navigation system.
The 2012 Ford Fusion features a handsome and modern interior covered in soft-touch materials and loaded with appealing features. But, while the design is well laid out and logically arranged, the controls for the climate and audio are just too small and placed low in the dash where they are hard to see. Models with voice activated-SYNC and navigation have some features controlled by voice or the steering wheel controls, which is a big help. The enhanced bolstering on the front seats provides impressive support, while the rear offers sufficient head and leg room to comfortably accommodate two adults – or three for shorter distances. Finally, the 60/40 split-folding seatback adds utility to the Fusion's 16.5 cubic-foot trunk.
The 2012 Ford Fusion sports a power bulge on the hood, flared front fenders and one of the best iterations of the Ford three-bar chrome grille to date. Underneath is an underbody shield designed to improve airflow and reduce drag, and thus help improve fuel economy. Ford's new wheel designs also earn high praise from us, even on the base models, and there are different sizes depending upon the trim level: The base S model has 16-inch aluminum wheels, the SE and SEL models are on 17s and the Sport model gets its own 18-inch wheels with performance tires.
All 2012 Ford Fusions are very well equipped. The Fusion S has power windows/locks/mirrors, air conditioning, keyless remote entry, 6-speed manual transmission, cruise control, tilt/telescoping steering column, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, AdvanceTrac stability control, anti-lock brakes and front, front-side and side-curtain airbags. The SE adds SIRIUS Satellite Radio, an enhanced sound system, power driver's seat, 6-speed automatic transmission, steering wheel controls and fog lamps, while the SEL has dual-zone auto climate control, leather-trimmed full-power seats and SYNC voice-activated communications. The Sport adds more power, sportier handling, exterior and interior trim and 911 assist to its SYNC system.
Fusion S extras are limited to a 6-speed automatic transmission, remote start, and floormats, while SE buyers can opt for a 3.0-liter V6 with SportShift automatic, electrochromic mirrors, SYNC with 911 Assist, rear spoiler, a monochrome appearance package and the Reverse Sensing System. The SEL offers the 3.0-liter V6, Driver's Vision Package (Rear-View Camera plus Blind-Spot Info System with Cross-Traffic Alert) and the Luxury Package (leather seating and trim enhancements). SEL and Sport trims are available with Navigation, a Moon & Tune Package (moonroof plus 12-speaker/390-watt Sony premium audio), and all-wheel drive. Only Sport buyers can choose the Rapid Spec, which adds the Moon & Tune, Comfort Package (dual-zone climate control, heated seats, four-way power passenger seat, puddle lamps and driver's keypad) and the Driver's Vision Package. A Sport Appearance Package with a tauter suspension is available for the SE and SEL.
The 2.5-liter Duratec in-line 4-cylinder makes 175 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque, whether mated to the standard 6-speed manual transmission or the optional 6-speed automatic. Available in SE and SEL trims and paired with a mandatory 6-speed automatic transmission that adds a manual-style SelectShift feature is a 3.0-liter Flex-Fuel V6 that develops 240 horsepower and 223 lb-ft of torque. The Sport level brings a potent 3.5-liter V6 rated at 263 horsepower, 249 lb-ft of torque and is paired with the 6-speed SelectShift automatic. The SEL and Sport models also offer optional on-demand all-wheel drive (AWD).
2.5-liter in-line 4
175 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
172 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 (manual), 22/32 (manual, S), 23/33 (automatic), 22/30 (SelectShift automatic)
3.0-liter V6 (Flex-Fuel)
240 horsepower @ 6,550 rpm
223 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 (gasoline, FWD), 14/21 (E85, FWD), 18/26 (gasoline, AWD), 13/19 (E85, AWD)
263 horsepower @ 6,250 rpm
249 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/27 (FWD, automatic), 17/25 (AWD, automatic)
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on a 2012 Ford Fusion runs from just under $21,000 for a base S with manual transmission to roughly $30,000 for an all-wheel drive Sport variant, putting it well within the range of its competitors. Opting for the 6-speed automatic on the base 4-cylinder Fusion will bump its tab by about $900, and the 3.0-liter V6 will add another $1,600 - but that does include the SelectShift automatic transmission. Navigation on the SEL and Sport is available only as part of a dedicated Rapid Spec Package that includes more features but adds several thousand dollars to the bottom line. Be sure and check the Fair Purchase Price to find out what Fusion buyers are paying in your area. Historically, the Fusion has retained slightly better 5-year residual values than the Chevrolet Malibu, but still falls far short of the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Hyundai Sonata.