Not too long ago I reviewed a 2017 Ford Fusion plug-in hybrid.
The 2017 Ford Fusion Sport I just drove is the opposite of that.
That is, they have similar body styles but where the hybrid will get you where you are going in style while being a gasoline miser, the Sport will do the same a whole lot faster (avoid those radars) while being … well … not exactly a gas hog but much more piggy than the plug-in version.
I know this because the informative instrument panel kept me informed at all times about my petrol usage. In the city, it was showing 13.1 miles to the gallon. On the highway: 21.3 mpg.
The Ford Fusion Sport, which is scheduled to show up in Southern California showrooms on July 1, is not designed for gas gauge watchers, however. It's built for would-be Honda Accord or Toyota Camry drivers who want something, er, sportier. Something that feeds the need for driving excitement. A muscle car inside a mid-sized sedan, thanks to a 2.7-liter, turbocharged, 325hp, V6 engine.
Ford is not guessing a car like this is what drivers want; it's come up in market research, Fusion Project Manager Jason Maze told me by phone from Michigan.
Based on consumer inquiries, “Early indications are it's the fastest-turning model nationally,” he said.
All-seasons motorists are attracted to the Sport's all-wheel drive and electronic suspension, which can make driving over a puddle seem like you're gliding over it in the air.
Of course, this weekend's freak event not withstanding, we SoCals don't have much use for puddle jumping. With our clogged freeways you might not think we want to experience driving excitement either. Get behind the wheel of the Sport and you'll realize how wrong-headed that thinking is.
The sucker just flies. Every time I got on the freeway, without even trying, I'd look at the odometer and see I was doing 80 mph. On a 65-mile trip, with relatively light traffic (for here anyway), I got to my destination much earlier than expected. And in rush-hour traffic on the way home, I found that those in the lanes next to me were … well, have you ever experienced those assholes in heavy traffic who zoom faster than everyone else, darting in and out of lanes like they think they own the pavement or something?
I was one of those assholes.
On the curvy turns near Estancia High School in Costa Mesa, I put my ruby red devil in “Sport” mode—via the shifter. Actually, a couple days before I got the car, Maze suggested I do so. Noise reduction technology normally creates a quiet cabin, but in Sport mode you hear more of the engine noise. More importantly, the electronic suspension is adjusted to make the car flatter. The steering has a sportier feel. The paddle shifter on the steering wheel allows you to override the automatic transmission and manually downshift yourself, as you would with a manual.
Uphill and downhill, the damn thing took those curves like champ, much to the chagrin of the guy in the Beemer I went around. (See “asshole” section above.)
This sucker has other tech goodies available, including adaptive cruise control and a pedestrian detector that, should the drive momentarily loose focus, the car will brake to a stop automatically. This optional feature works up to 50 mph, Maze had told me, although I could not convince my wife to play the role of “pedestrian” when I wanted to test it at the top speed.
One thing I have noticed when compiling this column is all the fully loaded electrics and hybrids I've been driving generally come in around $34,000. The standard 2017 Fusion V6 Sport lists at $33,475. The model I tested was $41,545 because of the extras.
That ruby red paint job, the enhanced active parking assist, the adaptive cruise with stop & go, the navigation system with voice recognition, the driver assist package, the 19-inch summer tires, cornering lamps, Dual-zone Electronic Automatic Temperature Control (DEATC), HID headlamps, high-def radio, partial leather-trimmed front seats, SiriusXM Radio, Sony audio system with 10 speakers, SYNC3 (which is kind of like different apps on the 8-inch Capacitive Touchscreen), AppLink, 911 Assist and Smart Charging USB ports (two).
Without all that, you're back in Accord and Camry territory, only farther out front.