EDITOR WES RAYNAL: This 2014 Ford Fusion SE is a nice car. It’s been a while since I was in one -- February 2013 in fact, according to our website. That car had a four-cylinder turbo with a tenth more displacement and the same horsepower. This car’s price is fair, in my opinion, and it’s nicely equipped, as the dealers like to say.
The cockpit is good-looking and looks and feels well built. There’s a lot of buttons in there, though -- I counted 41 (!) on the center console, controlling more than a few functions you can also do with the steering-wheel buttons once you get those figured out.
I think the exterior looks terrific, and I also feel this is a pleasant-enough driver, though you got to rev it to get ’er moving. The stop/start is a feature I mostly like on cars, it’s a tiny bit intrusive on this particular sample, though. The seats are terrific. The handling feels buttoned up and the ride is compliant, fine over rough Detroit pavement -- never too harsh, staying nice and composed. The structure is stiff with tight body motions, and the steering felt fine. It doesn’t feel quite as engaging or light on its feet as Honda Accord or Mazda 6, but it ain’t bad by any means.
As an aside, I drove a nearly $3,000 cheaper Accord last week with a normally aspirated four-cylinder developing 11 more horsepower. Few automakers beat Honda on engines.
2013 Ford Fusion SE review notesCAR REVIEWS 2013 Ford Fusion SE review notesEDITOR WES RAYNAL: So this is Ford's new Fusion: the blue oval's shot, aimed directly at the massive midsized-sedan market, to go up against the likes of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.For the most ...
2014 Ford Fusion SE right front
The 2014 Ford Fusion SE receives an EPA-estimated 29 mpg combined fuel economy.
DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: OK, Raynal, you drove the same Accord last week I drove. It was three grand cheaper, but it also had a stick shift, chintzy cloth interior and no satellite radio. It was louder inside, rode harder and looked six grand cheaper on the outside. And it had a normally aspirated four making just 11 more horsepower with almost a full extra liter of displacement. Hardly an apples to apples comparison, comrade, though I’ll give you that the Honda got nearly the same fuel economy as the Ford from a plain ol’ gasoline engine -- few automakers can beat Honda on fuel economy.
No arguments on the overall appeal of this midsize sedan package, however: The Fusion is a comfortable, roomy and remarkably quiet sedan for the money, one that simply does everything well without calling undue attention to itself. There’s a ton of attention to detail paid by engineers to things that are absent in many competitors, particularly those from Japan. Take the doors, for example: Closing any of the doors on the Fusion results in a precise, solid “thunk.” The same action on the aforementioned Accord gives a hollow metallic “tink” that hearkens back to a 1982 Civic. The same attention to detail is in the trunk closure, the window switch detents and the shifter button -- the Fusion exudes quality. Bear in mind I’m not stating the Fusion is a higher-quality car than the Accord; I am saying it gives that impression via critical touchpoints.
Ford’s teeny 1.5-liter EcoBoost four has plenty of juice to pull the Fusion around, and I actually found the start/stop less obtrusive than in some premium German fours (BMW, cough cough). However, I don’t know that the average buyer will see any real-world fuel savings from the small EcoBoost engine. In a day of mixed driving with about 40 percent freeway driving at the speed limit I got 28.5 mpg; consistent city driving, even with the stop/start engaged, was closer to 23 mpg, a number that could be equaled or beaten by any number of larger, naturally aspirated sedans like our Accord Sport. Small engines have to work harder in stop-and-go driving; unless you’re mostly on the interstate; don’t expect your 1.5-liter Fusion to work miracles in the mileage department.
At the same time, there’s no penalty for it, either -- the little four is a satisfying daily companion as is the rest of the Fusion, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this car to anyone looking for a midsize sedan.
2014 Ford Fusion SE left rear
The 1.5-liter EcoBoost four has plenty of power to pull the car around town.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: The first thing I noticed on this 2014 Ford Fusion SE was the heavy doors and satisfying closing sound. The whole cabin feels well insulated. If the engine isn’t running it would be a fine place to take a nap.
Those seats are pretty comfy, too, though they don’t look very upscale. The central dash, though useful, also looks a little cheap. Sync isn’t my favorite system on the market, but everything seems to be worked out these days, so no complaints.
This sedan is handsome on the outside, and I don’t think anyone disagrees. If one wanted to add a little sport, they could spend for the bigger wheels; otherwise, in proportion, shape, aggressiveness, it’s all good.
The 1.5-liter and six-speed automatic are very smooth. Gear changes are soft, and there is almost no turbo lag to speak of. I would have guessed naturally aspirated, actually. Sport mode makes the transmission hang onto gears a little longer, but that’s about it. Power is completely acceptable for this car, segment and price.
I would take this over the Honda Accord Sport sedan we had last week, but I’d still probably pick the Mazda 6 over all of ’em, but that’s mostly a styling preference.
2014 Mazda 6 i Touring review notesCAR REVIEWS 2014 Mazda 6 i Touring review notesEDITOR WES RAYNAL: The 2014 Mazda 6 is one of my favorite non-German/ Cadillac ATS midsize sedans. Perhaps even at the top of the heap. It's really, really good. Love the exterior. What a welcome ...
2014 Ford Fusion SE lights
The exterior of the 2014 Ford Fusion SE looks terrific.
WEST COAST EDITOR MARK VAUGHN: Recently I’ve driven three midsized sedans that you could argue were fun to drive -- the Honda Accord Sport with manual transmission and the Mazda 6 with manual transmission and the Volkswagen Passat. You might not even have to argue that they were fun to drive. Compared to just about everything else in the class, compared to the Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Chevy Malibu, Chrysler 200, they were fun. Shifting for yourself is usually more fun than plodding along with an automatic or, oh the pain, a CVT.
But no one comes to the boring midsized sedan segment looking for a good time; people come here looking for appliances that will plod along forever. Those people will not be disappointed. Midsized sedans are simply roomy and comfortable, they do their duty and do it well, and indeed, that is what most of the cars here are. With that preamble, may I present to you the Ford Fusion SE. I put almost 500 miles on this midsized sedan in the week I had it, including a high-speed run out to the desert and back. But I also did a lot of intercity back and forth that included carpooling and family errands. Yes, there were times I would have liked about 300 more horsepower. Maybe there were times I would have liked crisper steering and a little less mushy feedback from the steering. But there weren’t a lot of those times. Usually I was just hauling people around or going to Petco for dog food. For that kind of everyday living you just want a nice, practical, comfortable “car.” I’d be perfectly happy having one of these in the driveway and using it every day. I wouldn’t expect it to do too much more than start every day and maybe go around corners and stop. The vast majority of buyers in the midsize sedan class want nothing more than that. Plus they get to “buy American,” which is important to many buyers.
The most interesting and newsworthy thing on this car was its Ecoboost engine, which is only 1.5 liters big. In order to be able to haul around the Fusion’s 3,400-pound of curb weight those 1.5 liters get: gasoline direct injection, turbocharging and the usual DOHC and twin independent variable cam timing, resulting in 178 hp way up at 6,000 rpm and 177 lb-ft of torque starting way down at 1,500 revs. The result is, yes, there’s enough horsepower and torque in this powertrain to get the job done. I even got to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds on what may have been a flat surface. That 8.2 is nothing to post about on myfordrules.com, but it’ll get you out of the way of oncoming trains and up most freeway onramps without you getting squashed like a bug.
But does that dinky displacement return the promised 28 EPA combined? Not for me, it didn’t. In 308.3 miles it used 14.887 gallons of fuel for a relatively lousy (for a 1.5-liter) 20.7 mpg. Maybe that was because I was driving like a maniac. Those testers from the EPA don’t drive like maniacs.
Other gripes? On the fourth day in my care, the following items simply ceased functioning: cruise control, turn signals and all the things operated via those steering wheel-mounted buttons. The wipers, mounted on the opposite side of the steering column from the turn signal stalk, kept working. So much for quality being Job 1. This is why people still don’t trust domestic manufacturers.
Also, I hate those non-button touch surfaces for the HVAC and radio. Give me real buttons or give me death. And unless you turn it off, you get a statement from the legal department every time you start the car reminding you that “911 Assist is off.” I finally couldn’t take it any more and turned it on, no doubt adding to a clogging of 911 services caused by people trying to get the dashboard non-buttons and non-dials to work. Sorry, real crash victims.
Ultimately, though, as I said, I could have one of these in the driveway, drive it every day for the rest of my life and probably be perfectly content. Not thrilled, but certainly content.
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