If you’re lucky, you’ll land yourself a nice provincial government job here in Ontario. Not only will you likely receive decent financial compensation for your labours, but you’ll probably enjoy considerable job security, a pension and a comprehensive benefits package, too. Good on ya; lucky score!
Even finished in white, the Ford Fusion Hybrid – darling of the government fleet set – is still a stylish and handsome machine.
But wait, there’s more. If you’re deemed trustworthy enough to be let out of the cubicle farm, you might even get a government-issue sedan to go do the site inspections your particular role requires. Being the politically correct and socially responsible group that they are, that government agency of yours is likely to choose staff cars that are safe, sensible and inoffensive. Fuel efficiency – to feign environmental responsibility – is a worthy consideration. Style is not.
And yet, even finished in white, the Ford Fusion Hybrid – darling of the government fleet set – is still a stylish and handsome machine.
Of course the Fusion Hybrid Titanium-trim car we tested is bathed in a metallic white that looks richer than the milk white found on the fleet cars, and not even the considerable familiarity of the current generation of Fusions has diminished its visual appeal.
But this car here would be like striking gold as a government official for this Fusion Hybrid is also an optioned up Titanium model which means it comes with a host of luxurious items including a moon roof, heated steering wheel, and cooled seats finished in a lovely terracotta leather, a new option this year.
The overall cabin design is pleasing and features mostly rich-feeling textures and materials. The central dash is a command module based around Ford’s 8-inch touchscreen for its SYNC with MyFordTouch infotainment system. The Blue Oval folks have suffered a lot of grief over this system for its apparent uncooperative nature but my experience with several different Ford models this past year has shown that it’s an intuitive and straight forward system that has proven far less problematic than many of the other systems I’ve experienced.
Navigation maps are clear and graphically pleasing (if not as slick as some of the best out there), and there’s even an EcoRoute feature that plots the most fuel-efficient route to your destination. The Sony based sound system is powerful and decently balanced too.
This particular car is spec’ed with the $1,500 adaptive cruise control and $1,500 Driver Assist Package options that really make this Fusion a rolling technology display. Between the lane keeping assist and the adaptive cruise, drivers will experience short spells of driverless driving as the car manages the tasks of speeding up, slowing down and gently keeping you between the lines should the driver’s attention be diverted momentarily.
But there’s more. The driver assist package includes Ford’s Active Park Assist that enables the Fusion to find a suitably-sized parking space, and steer itself safely into it. I have experienced this system on the Ford Edge and while it does work, I found it such a nerve-wracking experience that I’ve not dared to use it since. My driving capabilities include being able to park, and with a back-up camera too, there’s no excuse to not be able to park your own car.
One other safety feature fitted to this Fusion is Ford’s inflatable seatbelts that reduce the damage seatbelts do to the chest during a collision by spreading the crash force across a wider area, plus keeps the belt snugger to the body in the event of an accident. These belts are currently only available on rear outboard passenger spots.
The interior space is roomy and despite having battery packs to contend with, Ford has very cleverly arranged them so that the rear seats split and fold, accommodating longer objects. Well done!
So the Fusion Hybrid Titanium is a nice enough car to look at, it’s pleasant enough to ride in and chock full o’ tech kit, but what’s it like to drive?
Quite good, actually.
Motivation comes from a DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle 2.0L four-cylinder engine that puts out 141 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque. The engine is complemented by a permanent-magnet AC synchronous electric motor that emits 118 horsepower total and 117-lb-ft of torque fueled by a 1.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The net maximum power rating is 188 horsepower. For those who like numbers, the Fusion’s combined power is lower than that of its primary hybrid competitors from Toyota, Honda and Hyundai.
It is enough power to keep the Fusion Hybrid from being an obstacle in traffic, with sufficient passing power for carefully planned overtaking, but it’ll never feel like a sports sedan. That said, around town, thanks to the electric motor’s immediacy of its torque delivery, the Fusion Hybrid feels as energetic pulling away from a stop as most of the other midsize sedans. The continually variable transmission does not suffer from as much of the rubber-band feel as many others do.
Even though the Fusion Hybrid weighs nearly 100 kg more than non-Hybrid Fusions (1,651 kg versus 1,554 kg), its handling is not as adversely affected as one might expect. It’s stable and quiet at speed, and tracks well on the highway, but the Fusion Hybrid does not simply roll over and play dead at the sight of some country roads with a few curves in them. Steering feel is decent for an electrically boosted unit.
Braking performance is solid too, but thanks to the regenerative braking, there’s a lot of initial bite, followed by a bit of sponginess in terms of feel.
Of course fuel efficiency is the most important measure of success for a hybrid and here the Fusion Hybrid fares very well, as expected. With a combined average of 5.5 L/100 km, the Ford’s efficiency betters all its primary competitors except the Honda Accord Hybrid. During our week of mixed driving, we saw the government’s estimated 5.5 L/100 km as our average too which helped us grow a veritable garden of graphic “Efficiency Leaves” in the Fusion’s gauge pod.
|Fuel Economy||Ford Fusion
|Hyundai Sonata Hybrid||Toyota Camry
(L/100 km / mpg)
|5.4 / 52.3||4.7 / 60.1||6.6 / 42.8||5.7 / 49.6|
(L/100 km / mpg)
|5.7 / 49.6||5.3 / 53.3||5.9 / 47.9||6.0 / 47.1|
(L/100 km / mpg)
|5.5 / 51.4||5.0 / 56.5||6.3 / 44.8||5.9 / 47.9|
|2015 Hybrid Vehicle Fuel Economy|
A government issue, base model Fusion Hybrid starts at under $29,000 MSRP. Our Titanium model begins with a $34,799 cost of admission, then added in options and fees to tally a $44,134 total, an expenditure that’d need to be reserved for a Senator’s expense sheet. Still, for the amount of technology, safety and sophistication put into this Fusion Hybrid, it doesn’t seem unreasonable.
Driving a hybrid used to mean sacrificing style and every fraction of driving enjoyment for the self-satisfaction of knowing you were crusading toward a cleaner environment. Thanks to cars like this Fusion Hybrid Titanium, that is no longer the case. It is possible to have an attractive, nice driving car that happens to sip fuel too.
And if you can score one as a government car, so much the better.
3 years/60,000 km; 5 years/100,000 km powertrain; 5 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 5 years/100,000 km roadside assistance; 8 years/160,000 km hybrid components
|Model Tested||2015 Ford Fusion Titanium Hybrid||Destination Fee||$1,600|
|Base Price||$34,799||Price as Tested||$44,134|
White platinum metallic tri-coat paint, $400; Moonroof, $1,250; Active Park Assist, $600; Engine Block Heater, $100; Heated / Cooled Seats, $600; Heated Steering Wheel, $200; Adaptive Cruise Control, $1,500; Navigation System, $800; Rear Inflatable Seatbelts, $190; Terracotta Hybrid Interior Pkg, $495; Driver Assist Package (Lane Keeping Assist., Blindspot Detection), $1,500