-You know the Hybrid has gone mainstream when all the official cars of Middle America offer one.
Look at Accord, Camry, Malibu, Sonata, and Ford Fusion.
This may be the most interesting of the pack, however.
Let's drive the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid, this one's an SE, and check the tech.
Now, in that world of Accords, and Camrys, and Malibus, and Sonatas, this one wins on one count before you even turn the key and that is to my eye looks.
That's a 50,000-dollar face, folks, and it continues very nicely through the greenhouse; only getting a little unfortunate back here where things end kind of bulkily.
Now, the first thing I like about the interface in the Ford Fusion is not the interface, but where it's nestled.
Here, it's in a flat plane on the console.
This is very different than some other Fords we've driven lately where you've got an eyebrow, 2 cheeks, and a chin around these big protrusions that look kind of cool, but they impede you going to these key 4 corners, which is where you really drive what mode you are in on this system.
This is much more usable.
The downside is this flat face also opens up to lots of glare.
-Are you telling me I have a flat face?
-As you can hear, this Ford Fusion also has Ford's rather eerie
tech message support.
It can speak messages to you as they come in and you can reply with one of several canned responses and also setup your own custom canned replies.
-Yes like this.
-Now, in general, you've seen MyFord Touch a hundred times.
I'm not gonna detail every feature.
Nothing really major new here, but it still suffers from 2 key things.
First is third time's a charm touch response.
That's not good.
I mean, sometimes it will get it right away.
you gotta hit it twice or 3 times.
Secondly, the system can still be too complicated.
They've boiled down some screens like the phone screen here, not bad.
The audio screens have always been pretty clear, but then you go to some other areas like the internet settings.
I think my wireless router is easily to deal with than that.
On, by the way, the navigation of the Fusion Hybrid is a really good system right now.
So, it's Ford's latest iteration.
A couple things you'll look for.
These nice, clear street signs that show up on city streets are very good.
You're also getting some local traffic condition as you can see.
Called out nicely with a glow around the street as opposed to a changing line color.
This to me is much more digestible than changing street line colors.
Also note that as of today, we're shooting in February of 2013, Ford's app link, a big collection of apps, does not work with MyFord Touch, this multi-LCD interface.
It's a weird split in their technology right now and they're working on it, but for now, no app link here.
That means Ford's app support is trapped on the earlier generation one version of Sync.
It's LCD based, but very different than this.
Or even on the non-LCD cars like we've seen in the Ford Fiesta, but not here on the most modern head unit.
I'd like to see Ford pull it all together.
Get all their app support with their new open developer platform and their best 3 LCD interface and solve the lag and complication here and get that done by the end of 2013.
Times are wasting.
Here in the engine bay of our Fusion Hybrid, you've got fairly garden variety stuff as Hybrid has got 2 L inline 4 engine sitting transverse, front wheel drive only on the Hybrid by the way.
It's a lean burn Atkinson cycle engine connective of course to an electric motor and lithium ion battery.
141 of those are from the gas engine.
47 contributed by the electric motor.
Torque Ford is not giving a number.
0 to 60 around the low 8, 8.4 according to Edmunds for a car that weighs a little over 3,600 pounds, delivering 47/47 as its mpg.
In addition to being all wheel drive only on the Hybrid, it's also only one choice of transmission.
It's a continuously gear box as is common with these powertrains.
And you cannot tell anything with a Hybrid by the way.
Bare that in mind.
Now, the Fusion Hybrid
and I'm not being unkind here, but it doesn't drive like it looks.
This car looks like you bought a poor man's Aston Martin Rapid, but it drives like a very efficient focused car.
You notice there are no paddle shifters available for this CVT.
There is no shiftable gate.
There's no rocker for shifting to synthetic gears on that transmission.
You can't shift it.
There's no sport mode.
Nothing here is about performance.
It's a comfortable everyday car
with an efficiency message and that's rare these days.
Most cars have multiple personalities or at least try to.
Power is sufficient.
There's more than enough here, but it doesn't ever come on in an exhilarating fashion.
The car's very well modulated in the way that it's engineered from the last line of code to the balance of power from its engine and motor.
With that said, you also feel the battery in this car not just as a motive force, but as a weight force.
-It's a little wallowy in corners.
Again, there's no support suspension here or anything like that, but it's also got a nicely planted ride, which I also attribute somewhat to the extra weight.
I'm guessing there's a couple 100 pounds on the hoof here of additional weight for the electric motor and the lithium ion battery pack as well.
It's a nice comfortable riding car.
They've done a good job getting a good bias, but it's not one that is a real treat to toss in and out of corners.
Ford lets the computer access the electric power steering in this car to get you back inline rather than using some kind of yaw braking like a lot of other cars do.
Ford has a little smoothing work to do on the braking on this car.
Sometimes you get less than you expect, sometimes quite a bit more, apparently depending on how the regen circuit and service brakes work together.
Pricing the Fusion Hybrid SE is kind of funny 'cause my first advice is don't get an SE at all because to get the cool tech you've got to option this guy up with a bunch of luxury packages that enable you to get the cool tech.
By then, you basically got a titanium, so start with a titanium model at about 33 grand then you've gotta add a handful of features to go CNET style including navigation with the voice command 800 bucks; the driver assist package, blind spot and lane departure, that's a grand; adaptive cruise about 1,000.
All in CNET style on a limited Hybrid, you're around 37 and a half.
Roughly 2,200 bucks more than a similarly teched out non-Hybrid Fusion Titanium with the EcoBoost motor, a cool little turbo motor.
With that in mind, you gotta look at both very carefully.
Think about how long you're gonna keep this car.
Well, there's a 2, 2 and a quarter year payoff cycle if you're an average driver to make up for this Hybrid premium.
I think going with the EcoBoost engine might give you more a fun driving dynamic, but over the long haul, this might be more economical.