Quick Fusion Review

I took the time yesterday to go drive a Fusion...I'm not *exactly* in the market. I drive a Focus as my commuter car for the gas mileage, and I'd
love a slightly larger car, but I love MORE not having a car payment. I drove the Fusion out of curiousity, and in part I was hoping the car 'wowed' me so much I started jonesing for one. The Fusion is really nice, but left me about 1 "cool" away from feeling like I NEED one.
Overall, my first impression is that car-and-driver is wrong. Their next- to-last issue they compared the Fusion with the camry, accord, and sonata, and their biggest complain was the fit-and-finish and wide body panel gaps. Now, based on their review, I expected something that jumped out at you -- like the first generation Saturn body panels where you could stick slices of bread between the door and fender! Not true. The Fusion's panels may be wider than their contemporaries, but Ford did a very good job working out their locations so as to not draw attention to them.
Summary: The Fusion is a really nice mid-sized family car that drives and moves leagues better than american-designed cars, if not quite "european" in feel. On the whole, and as you look at each individual part of the car, it's just not quite as refined or nice as the accord, but it's a great value compared with the honda as well. I've owned the accord, and I'd buy the Ford for the value.
Interior: The low climate controls have been noted in publications before, and sitting in the dealership or autoshow, I thought it was a bit sillyof a comment. Once on the road, I 100% agree. They're low and small and hard to see. That being said, it'll become less of an issue after you buy one and know where they are and how to glance down at them. that being said, the heater about blew me out of the car by the time we were driving off the lot! Very impressive there. The turn-signal lever is at a funky angle, but once you start moving it just fades away in to the background and you never have to think about it to use it -- the hallmark of a good design. Overall interior is nicely laid out and very attractive. Again, the accord has the more luxurious interior with a higher-quality dash, but the drop off now is small. cup holders are handy, 2-stage center console storage is useful location and size, and almost everything just falls right where you expect it to be. I had difficulty finding a comfortable seating position, even with the power seat with manual seatback angle. Perhaps that was the problem -- too many choices. But the back seat, with the front's set at good locations, had generous legroom for the kids, a critical necessity. Note to Ford: Add a dead pedal for the driver's left foot.
Driving: okay, I'll be just looking for a daily commuter, so I drove the mid-level Se with a 4 cyl. and a 5-speed automatic. My first impression as we go underway? NOISE! This engine is noisy once you get on the gas, and you get on it a lot to get the car moving good. Again, comparing it to the Honda and Toyota, the engine was typical ford, a bit rough and 'old' sounding. But more importantly, it sounded like their was a pipe from the noisiest part of the engine directly into the passenger compartment. In fairness, as the drive wore on I began to notice it less and less, but when you drive there in a 2000 Focus and immediately notice engine noise, there's something wrong. After that, nothing but good impressions. The aforementioned seats gave me excellent driving position. The tranny shifts about as well as a modern transmission should (although not as smoothly as a GM tranny) and after a few minutes, you quickly get a feel for how much gas to give it to get the gear you want for the gumption you desire. The steering was a bit numb and heavy, but this is a family car and I found the steering pleasant. ride motions were well controlled, with sharp bumps and potholes being deadened and big humps being controlled with a feeling of heft and solidity. I don't know what the numbers are for the cars acceleration, but when you get on the gas, the Fusion pulls steadily and strongly (but noisy. did I mention that??) Again, it was the 4cylinder, so I didn't start howling with glee, but it was a moderately impressive showing.
Second summary! :: The fusion rides well, has a slightly sporty inclination to it, and does it's family-car duties without being a boat or worse -- a Taurus. It feels planted on the road, with very good road isolation and a strong sense of intergrity. Bits and pieces of the car can be picked on - the lack of a dead pedal, climate control positioning, quality of the dash... but those are nitpicks comparing the Fusion to the greats of the class. The fusion competes with them, but it doesn't have to beat them on specific items. The car I drove was about $19,700 and I feel that's a great bargin in this class. My one hesitation was the engine noise. Again, as I drove I noticed it less and less, but what about 2 years from now? will I continue to notice it as I ride with friends and become unhappy with my car? Heck, is the Mercury quieter??!!
8/10
J
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If you want to ride in some cocoon, get the Buick LaCross.
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You are wrong about the Taurus. It is not a "boat" nor is it some unpleasant car to drive. I drive one daily and it's got the 24 valve duratec. It's got some spirited acceleration, it's a smooth sounding V6. It also also corners very well for a car of this size as it's been over the hilly pacific northwest before.
I can't say anything about the lower horsepower Vulcan but I do know that mine has plenty of power for what it is and the V8 SHO option before must have been a real "sleeper".
East-
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