|The Fusion is hardly short on style, especially in top-tier Energi Platinum trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
“Energi” is Ford-speak for plug-in hybrid or PHEV, a technology that straddles the middle ground between an HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle) and EV (Electric Vehicle) by providing pure electric capability for short commutes as well as the ability to continue driving without recharging at all, a best of both worlds scenario that seems to have found common ground amongst environmentally conscious buyers.
The Fusion Energi was one of the earlier plug-in adopters, arriving on the scene in February of 2013. It was by no means first in North America, Chevy’s Volt starting things off on a mass scale in 2010, which beat Fisker’s Karma and a small run of Ram
|The Fusion has a four-door coupe profile, yet it’s very roomy inside. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Should I stop there? Probably a good idea, as the market is now filled with PHEVs from Mitsubishi, McLaren, Porsche, BMW, Audi, VW, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Ferrari, Kia, Chrysler (for real this time), Acura, and Cadillac,
|LED headlamps enhance the top-line model. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Ford doesn’t publish its Fusion Energi sales numbers, but rather includes them, along with deliveries of the non-plug-in Fusion Hybrid, within its total Fusion sales. Therefore it’s difficult to tell just how popular it is amongst PHEV buyers, but considering how popular the Fusion is on the whole it only makes sense the Energi gets its fair share. Fusion ranked second most popular in Canada’s mid-size sedan class last year, just behind the Toyota Camry and ahead of the Honda Accord. In the U.S. it’s fourth in line, oddly enough, beaten by the two aforementioned Japanese
|Standard 18-inch multi-spoke alloys are stunning. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
PHEVs and EVs operate in a brave new automotive world, with upstarts like the previously mentioned Fisker (now defunct, but kind of back again as non-PHEV Karma-it may come back to haunt them), Tesla (the highest valued carmaker to never turn a profit), BYD, and a number of other
|New taillight design features a classy chrome strikethrough. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Anti-car is probably the wrong term, they’re more anti-emissions (or at least anti-tailpipe emissions), and I must admit to being all for that. I remember the smog over 1970s LA before unleaded gasoline, and at the opposite end of the overpopulated spectrum I’ve enjoyed breathing clean air while sitting in 20-million-plus Sao Paulo’s infamous rush hour traffic (they mostly burn Ethanol), so we’ve come a long way in some of the world’s largest cities. On the other hand, after three days in my home-away-from-home Manila, Philippines, my eyes are burning from some of the worst air pollution anywhere (the city is filled with two-stroke “tricycles” and non-regulated diesel-powered everything).
|Most Canadian cities have plenty of free charging stations, like this one at Ikea. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Despite relative ease of charging, only Hyundai’s Sonata and Kia’s Optima joins the Fusion Energi in offering plug-in hybrid technology to the popular mid-size sedan segment, this allowing owners to recharge a larger battery capable of driving longer distances on 100-percent electric power, not to mention at higher speeds
|Two-tone chocolate and cream motif is absolutely gorgeous. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Zipping through busy traffic is easy thanks to plenty of power, but not solely from the Energi’s internal combustion engine (ICE) that makes just 141 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque alone. When combined with its electrical assistant, output bumps to 188 horsepower. Ford doesn’t provide total torque as it’s a difficult figure
|The Fusion Energi Platinum offers up equal parts luxury, sport, and tech. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The Fusion Energi drives the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT), par for the course amongst hybrid drivetrains, while fuel economy is estimated to be 5.8 L/100km in the city and 6.5 on the highway when in regular hybrid mode, or 2.7 Le/100km when factoring in regular usage of its EV mode. Of course, if you’re easy on the go-pedal and don’t have far to commute you can potentially run on EV-power most of the time, reducing that 2.7 Le/100km rating substantially. I drove for a week and only needed to add $6.50 to the tank at $1.32 per litre, which is certainly thrifty. Normally a week’s gas will set me back about $35 to $40 per car (I test two to three at a time), so the savings are big, while I tend to drive plug-in
|The Energi’s rightmost digital display grows or loses leaves depending on how you drive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I also really liked the car. Visual changes to the entire Fusion line are subtle but effective, the grille now appearing less Aston Martin-like and therefore more acceptable to those of us who’d rather not see a favourite sports car brand paid such a degree of honorary tribute by a mainstream volume automaker, while the headlamp clusters are scalloped slightly on their lower edges, a new more horizontal lower fascia provides a cleaner yet sportier look, redesigned taillights that now feature a chromed strikethrough stretch across the trailing edge of the deck
|The Fusion’s infotainment system is amongst the best in the industry. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Also new for 2017 is top-tier Platinum trim level that sits above the previous-best Titanium model. Both trims are available with the Fusion Energi powertrain, as is a base SE model. I drove the top-tier Platinum in my recent weeklong test, a $45,088 near-luxury sedan that adds a unique Sport grille, beautiful multi-spoke 18-inch alloys, remote start, proximity keyless entry with pushbutton ignition, a heatable steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, dual-zone auto HVAC, navigation, 12-speaker Sony audio, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage door opener, a powered glass sunroof, and a number of active convenience and safety features such as adaptive cruise control with
|Sony audio, heated and cooled seats, and much more, the Platinum is completely loaded. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
More than just the sum of its parts, interior highlights include a rich stitched leather covering much of the dash top, upper instrument panel fascia, centre stack and lower console sides, door uppers, and armrests, tasteful woodgrain and pewter metallic dash and door inlays, diamond-quilted cream leather door inserts with a curving strip of chocolate brown piping, and equally stunning diamond-quilted perforated cream leather upholstery with brown piping around the edges of
|The Fusion’s rotating gear selector is a smart, efficient use of space, and totally gorgeous. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
This combined with Ford’s usual top-tier switchgear and superb electronic interfaces, the latter including the model’s impressive dual-display colour TFT gauge cluster, the rightmost screen animated with a creative graphic array of growing and falling leaves, which is a gentle but effective eco driving reminder. The centre stack is topped off with Ford’s superb new Sync 3 infotainment system, featuring fashionable light blue and white graphics organized in a minimalist design that seems to pay homage to all things Apple (although possibly even better than the latest iPad due to a simpler, clearer approach to design). I like it a lot, and appreciate its easy connectivity
|Cream perforated diamond-stitched leather with brown piping… exquisite! (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The Fusion has long been lauded before for its large, commodious interior, with ample room for all body types front to back. The Platinum’s 10-way powered front seats with two-way driver’s memory are especially comfortable too, while those in the rear offer even more room to stretch out plus excellent lower back support in the sculpted outboard positions.
Ford isn’t the first to incorporate a rotating dial for selecting gears, but the Fusion’s gloss black topped, knurled metal sided controller is one part space-saving efficiency and two parts automotive jewelry; it’s really sweet. The top centre
|Rear seat roominess is very generous, and very comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
With “D” selected the Fusion moves forward in Gattaca-like silence, providing my very own Vincent Freeman whisks off to meet up with Irene Cassini moment. Uma Thurman sci-fi fantasies aside, it really feels like you’re living in the future despite the classic luxury touches everywhere. When power is needed it comes on quickly, seamlessly, and still silently other than road and wind noise, which are thankfully kept to a minimum due to extensive sound deadening and active noise cancellation. After the battery is depleted, which will occur faster than advertised if
|Yes, that’s a rear seat pass-through, very narrow and hardly large enough for more than skis… but stowing skis will be enough for many. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The only Fusion Energi limitation is an extremely small trunk, the large motive battery filling the bulkhead behind the rear seatbacks as well as much of the once large cargo area, resulting in just 232 litres (8.2 cu ft) compared to the regular Fusion Hybrid’s 340 litres (12 cu ft) and conventionally powered Fusion’s 453-litre (16 cu-ft) trunk. For many this issue will be an immediate deal-killer. You won’t likely be choosing the Fusion Energi to shuttle you and a few friends for golf, unless
|So, do you need trunk space or zero-emissions mobility? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Then again there’s a very narrow pass-through if you pulled the 60/40-split seatbacks down, and before you start laughing just appreciate it would allow multiple skis to be stuffed through if needed. It’s also important to remember some other plug-ins offer no such trunk extension and therefore no possibility of doing likewise, so kudos to Ford for adding a bit of passenger/cargo flexibility.
|The Energi offers up a very sophisticated power unit for reasonable money. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
If a mid-size sedan is more your style, get ready to be impressed with the Fusion Energi Platinum. It gets uncomfortably close to Lincoln levels of luxury, but does so at a price that’s considerably more agreeable. That you can still get a reasonable discount from Ford (if you ask nicely), plus a sizeable rebate from the BC (up to $2,500), Ontario (up to $7,730) and Quebec ($4,000) provincial governments, choosing the Fusion Energi should be an easier decision for many.
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