Unique about this model is that alongside a regular hybrid powertrain is a propulsion battery.
The Ford Fusion has been an exceptional seller across North America in the decade that it has been around. It first debuted in 2005 as a 2006 model, and since then has seen two major redesigns. Over the past decade, the Fusion has been offered in many guises. It could be had in front or all-wheel-drive, naturally aspirated or turbocharged four-cylinders or a bigger V6, manual or automatic, and even a few different hybrid variants. Perhaps the most unique of them all is the plug-in hybrid model, so we were ecstatic when Ford suggested we have a go in one. It was a chilly summer week when the 2015 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium arrived, and we put it through its paces for a week.
Redesigned most recently for the 2013 model year, the Ford Fusion is finally a “world” car. Though we’ve received slightly tweaked versions of the European model (known as the Mondeo), this is the first time the Fusion and Mondeo are essentially the same other than their naming schemes. This generation is arguably the best-looking one yet, with styling cues that are reminiscent of former Ford Motor Company asset Aston Martin. Now in its third model year, the freshness of the design has faded a little bit, but it’s still an elegant design that displays Ford’s out-of-the-box thinking. The Energi gets a no-charge rear decklid spoiler that sets off the look even more.
Differing from the regular Fusion Hybrid significantly, the Energi shares the same powertrain as the C-MAX Energi, another plug-in vehicle from Ford. Unique about this model is that alongside a regular hybrid powertrain is a propulsion battery mounted in the trunk. This battery is good for up to 35km of electric-only range. Theoretically, if your daily commute is 35km or less, you could get away without using any fuel at all. Compared to the Chevrolet Volt (65km of range) or the Toyota Prius Plug-In (18-20km), the Fusion is in a segment of its own, but I found it the best to drive of all the PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) currently on the market.
What the Ford Fusion has to its advantage is the presence of superior driving dynamics. Short of premium offerings such as the Tesla Model S, there are no plug-in vehicles that are as pleasant or ‘normal’ to drive as the Fusion. The motor is a 2.0L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder, good for 141 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque. It’s coupled to an AC permanent magnet electric motor that also pumps out 118 horsepower and 117 lb-ft on its own. The combination isn’t as simple as adding those numbers together – the result when calculated is 188 horsepower and a torque figure estimated at 200 lb-ft. With the battery at a full charge, the system gets a little bit more oomph and is rated at up to 195 horsepower thanks to the electric drive system.
The electric steering is quite good at making the Fusion change direction, but like other electric units out there, it lacks feedback. I suppose then that it’s a good thing nobody expects a midsize sedan with a plug-in hybrid powertrain to handle like a MX-5 Miata. The Fusion is perfectly competent through curvy roads even when being pushed spiritedly. It does suffer from some understeer, but nothing we wouldn’t consider typical for a front-wheel-drive sedan. The conventional model can be had with optional all-wheel-drive, but hybrid and Energi models are front-wheel-drive only. Of course, there is stability control on board here.
The plug-in electric system unique to this Energi model may only add an extra 35km of EV range, but the benefits can be huge if this car fits your lifestyle. I know plenty of people whose daily commute is 35km or less, including both my parents. My mother parks her BMW at the local train station to commute into the city, and dad is semi-retired and works a few days a week about 10km down the road from their house. My own family is just an example that argues the fact that many Canadians would be able to own the Fusion Energi and use it daily without using a drop of gasoline. Plus, unlike EV-only vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus BEV, you can actually take the Fusion on a road trip without limited range being an issue.
One advantage the Fusion Energi has over other PHEVs such as the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR is the ability to save your EV range until you actually need it. For instance, every time the Volt is charged, it immediately uses all 65km of EV-only range. It’s after that system fully discharges that the car resumes operation as a hybrid. After plugging in the Fusion for a while (2.5 hours on a 240V outlet, up to 7 hours on a regular household socket), the car defaults itself into “EV Now” mode. Pressing a button on the console allows you to select “EV Later”, which stores the range you just generated until you actually need it. The car operates as a regular hybrid in the meantime.
We were also able to see how the Fusion Energi operates as a conventional hybrid, with the EV battery fully depleted. In this mode, the car is still extremely efficient and uses braking power to regenerate the hybrid system, allowing for a few kilometers at a time on EV mode. My commute during this test week involved about 60% highway driving, and 40% city with bumper-to-bumper traffic consistently. I made generous use of the plug-in setup, and used “EV Later” mode regularly. My average was 5.1L/100km.
Ford really doesn’t skimp on options or interior treatments, especially as it relates to bells and whistles. This Fusion Titanium came packed with toys you’d never expect in a regular midsized sedan. For instance, major competitors including the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Mazda6 do not offer ventilated front seats or a fully-integrated infotainment system with climate control and WiFi connectivity. Though the base Fusion (non-Energi) starts at just over $21,000, the car can be optioned up to nearly match the level of integrated technology as its luxury-oriented cousin, the Lincoln MKZ.
Our Fusion Energi, which starts at $35,165, was completely loaded. This includes the Titanium Package, which brings the price to just over $37,000, a Driver Assist Package which, for $1,450, includes a blind spot monitoring system, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and auto dimming mirror. The Active Park System adds $600 and renders the Fusion able to parallel park itself without any steering input from the driver. An extra $1500 adds Adaptive Cruise Control and Forward Collision Warning with Brake Support, a moonroof with garage door opener runs you back $1,250. The heated/cooled front seats and heated steering wheel are $800, all-weather mats $150, rear inflatable belts for $250, voice-activated navigation for $800, and of course, a slew of accessories available to personalize your Ford.
The grand total for our specific test car? $48,000. This is where the Fusion meets its first challenge. Sure, the car is essentially state-of-the-art with regards to technology, but fifty thousand dollars is a heck of a lot of dough for a Ford Fusion, considering the volume-selling models are $25-30,000. Yes, this is a fuel-saver and is capable of doing errands or a short daily commute without having to ever stop for fuel, but the Chevrolet Volt can also do that. The Fusion’s saving grace is the fact that it’s a genuinely upscale midsized sedan, and there are a number of federal and provincial rebates available for those purchasing green vehicles.
Interior space is exactly what you’d expect from a regular midsize sedan. There’s plenty of head and legroom everywhere within the cabin, and the Fusion has excellent sightlines despite its small-ish windows. The issue that will show up time and time again is the trunk space. The 7.6-kWh battery that’s mounted in the trunk shaves trunk volume from 16 cubic feet in the regular Fusion in half to just 8.2 cubic feet. You will not be able to fit any more than a regular carry-on or two backpacks, so forget about using the Fusion for anything more than errands around town, unless you’re traveling with only one passenger and can toss luggage in the back seat.
A challenge I faced during my test of the Ford Fusion Energi wasn’t exactly limited to this car at all. I live in a condominium in the heart of downtown Toronto, and I do not have access to any sort of charging station. Upon discussions with various condo residents within the city, the vast majority are suffering from the same issue, and as such do not bother with electric vehicles at all. I made use of an app called “Plugshare”, which displays a map with all available charging stations. The issue is, there really aren’t that many charging stations in our city. Those that are available are typically at industrial offices or car dealerships. I predict that within a few years, stations will start popping up at more shopping centers, local cafés, and residential complexes.
Another issue I noticed that would hinder the Fusion Energi’s image as a premium option is the lack of high-intensity-discharge or LED headlights. There are no LED daytime-running-lights either; all lighting on the front end is done via traditional halogen lighting. Even when unlocking the Fusion by the remote, the “welcome” lights that come on are dim and appear cheap on an otherwise upscale vehicle. The taillights on the other hand are gorgeous LEDs and boast sharp styling like the rest of the Fusion.
Though very expensive on its own, the Fusion Titanium packs many other neat features that are almost unheard of in this segment. For instance, competitors do offer remote opening of the windows and sunroof, but I have yet to see a competitor that can close them back up. Additionally, the intelligent park assist system is capable of parallel parking the car without any steering input from the driver. We actually put this system to the test and recorded a video, which can be seen on the DoubleClutch.ca Instagram account. Ford has offered this system across their lineup for a while now, and therefore they have had ample time to improve it. This shows, because the system is very good.
The 2015 Ford Fusion Energi is an excellent conversation piece. It’s also a bit of a chameleon, because upon first glance it appears to be nothing more than a regular four-door sedan, looking slightly more upscale than its competitors. When digging beyond the surface though, it’s capable of being a fuel-less commuter, a very modern piece of technology that will bring out your inner tech-geek, and best of all, a great place to isolate yourself from the perils of commuter traffic. The Fusion Energi may be a little bit on the expensive side, but if it suits your commute, it can pay for itself pretty quickly. If it doesn’t quite fit your lifestyle, perhaps a regular Fusion Hybrid or even a Honda Accord Hybrid might be up your alley.
2015 Ford Fusion Energi Gallery