2006 Ford Fusion

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Front Passenger Side View

Ford hopes the Fusion, scheduled for release sometime this fall as a 2006 model, will be its next mid-size powerhouse. Ford desperately needs this car to help it to bounce back from a disappointing 2004, which saw it lose 1.2 percent of its U.S. market share. Significantly smaller than the Taurus, the Fusion will be built on a modified Mazda 6 platform. The front-wheel-drive car gets either a 160-hp, 2.3-liter in-line four (five-speed manual or automatic trannies) or a 210-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 (six-speed automatic only). All-wheel drive will be a later option.

The exterior design was inspired by the well-received 2003 Ford 427 concept, which closely resembled a Chrysler 300 with a different grille. It will be interesting to see how well the mass-market receives the taillamps, which were inspired by either aluminum foil or the tuner scene.

Ford claims that the Fusion has a light and nimble driving personality, which is assisted by the car's fully independent front and rear suspensions and a rigid body. Pricing has not yet been announced, but sources say the base four-cylinder model will sticker around $19,000, while the base V-6 version will start at less than $24,000. While the Fusion is a looker, we're not sure what reason a buyer would have to buy it over the excellent and comparably priced Mazda 6 on which it's based. Perhaps when we drive the Fusion we'll be blown away.

Rear Drivers Side View

Front Passenger Side View

Interior View Steering Wheel

Rear Drivers Side View

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