Auto Review: The Fusion gets some Energi

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Jan. 23, 2014
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

After over a century of most automobiles being driven solely by internal combustion engines, the introduction of gas-electric hybrids has been revolutionary, but still involves the same basic operational practices (you just add fuel less often). As we move toward a future in which electric vehicles are more common, the plug-in hybrid powertrain serves as a bridge between regular hybrid cars (that work in concert with a gasoline engine) and completely electric vehicles that have to be plugged in to charge the batteries that power the car. Plug-in hybrids have larger battery packs than conventional hybrids, so they can be charged off the electric grid (either 110 or 220V) for a limited amount of fully-electric operation, at which point the vehicle reverts to regular hybrid status and runs off the engine, the electric motor, or both, depending on conditions. It’s kind of a best-of-both-worlds solution, with both fuel consumption and emissions being greatly reduced.

The Ford Fusion Energi is based on the Fusion hybrid sedan, with the added inclusion of a larger lithium-ion battery pack and a plug located just in front of the driver’s door. The front-drive powertrain consists of a 2-liter Inline Four with 141 horsepower coupled to an A/C synchronous motor for a total system output of 188 horsepower. This, in turn, is channeled through a continuously variable automatic transmission. For plugging the car in, the Energi comes with a charging handle, cable and charging unit that stores in the trunk and can be plugged into any 110V outlet for a six-hour full charge, or you can use a 220V charging station and cut this time down by two-thirds. This will enable about 15 miles (in the winter) of pure electric operation before the engine kicks in to help, although it will fire up to help heat the cabin, should the need arise.

Acceleration is brisk, with 60 mph arriving in just over 8 seconds. Electric operation is liquid smooth, and while the gas engine isn’t the most refined out there, it stops and starts when required with crisp efficiency.

As for the rest of the Fusion Energi’s road manners, it has the same handling precision and responsiveness as the “regular” Fusion sedan (which is one of the better-handling midsize cars on the market). The Energi has Ford’s SmartGauge instrument cluster with several entertaining graphic displays and the latest My Ford Touch Infotainment interface systems. Room is generous up front and the rear seats are likewise comfortable, with only the trunk being downsized in capacity due to the presence of the battery array.

The 2014 Ford Fusion Energi is complicated to label in terms of fuel economy, as it depends on how often you plug it in. But the EPA rates it at 100 MPGe when fully charged per 100 miles. Suffice it to say, if you can regularly plug it in, the car will use very little fuel. Our well-optioned tester had an MSRP of $44,620. www.ford.com


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