2013 Ford Fusion melds world car sensibilities

Ford launched a greatly changed Fusion at the 2012 North American International Auto Show, featuring new styling, new interior tech, and a new range of engines.

Ford Fusion
Ford unveiled the 2013 Fusion in Detroit, a large departure from the previous generation. Timothy Hornyak/CNET

DETROIT--Last year, Ford updated the Focus, combining U.S. and European variants into a single world car. Now the company repeats that strategy with the new Fusion midsize sedan.

Ford mixed about one part Fusion with two parts Mondeo, its European midsize sedan, added one more part of new stuff, and came up with a sleek looking high tech sedan. The new car does away with the previous Fusion's three-bar grille and squarish roofline, opting for a grille that shares design language with the Fiesta and Focus. The roofline now forms a graceful line back toward the trunk.

The shape and cant of the grille are inviting comparisons to Aston Martin, while the side profile bears some resemblance to the previous decade's Jaguar S-type.

Ford updated its engine offerings, as well. The new Fusion will be available with a 1.6- or a 2-liter version of its Ecoboost engine, which employs direct injection and turbocharging to boost power while maximizing fuel efficiency. Ford estimates the the 1.6-liter will produce 179 horsepower and the 2-liter 237 horsepower.

The Fusion Hybrid also gets an update. Ford lowered its engine displacement from 2.5 to 2 liters, and updated the hybrid drive system with lithium-ion batteries. The company is expecting 47 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway, but has not released a combined horsepower number for the car. The lower displacement may take a toll on acceleration.

There will also be a plug-in hybrid version of the Fusion, the Energi, which Ford says will earn an EPA rating of better than 100 MPGe, the equivalent rating the EPA is using for electric vehicles.

The previous-generation Fusion Hybrid served as a prototype for the MyFord Touch system, which includes LCDs in the instrument cluster that can be configured for information display by the driver. So it is fitting the entire Fusion line gets the latest version of MyFord Touch, with its improved graphic layout and response times. The car will also get the latest version of Sync.

The Fusion will benefit from a large number of driver assistance features, including adaptive cruise control and blind spot detection. It will include a lane-keeping assist feature, which warns the driver and nudges the steering wheel if the car is drifting across a lane line. An automatic parking system, also available on the Focus, detects parallel parking spaces, then helps the driver by steering the car into the spot.

Ford has not disclosed pricing yet, but the various Fusion models should come between $20,000 and $30,000. All of the variants, except the Energi plug-in hybrid, will hit showrooms in the fall. A Ford spokesman said he expects the Energi late this year or early next year.

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