Review: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

With all the attention Toyota and Honda are getting for their hybrid programs, it's worth reminding you that Ford introduced the first hybrid SUV, the 2005 Escape Hybrid, and that the hybrid Escape won the prestigious North American Truck of the Year award in 2005. Ford used knowledge gained from the Escape Hybrid project to construct a hybrid-powertrain Fusion sedan with class-leading fuel economy and refinement.

Design

The entire 2010 Ford Fusion line receives a makeover. Up front, the grille and the hood's power dome grow larger for the 2010 model year. Everything from the back of the hood to the trunk remains the same, but a pair of honeycomb lenses set the taillights apart from those of earlier Fusions. Surprisingly, the hybrid badges are rather small and discreet. Most manufacturers design hybrid vehicles to look like spaceships, or they cover such cars' exteriors with badging to celebrate their greenness. Ford, on the other hand, wisely chose to let the Fusion Hybrid look like a regular Fusion. One visual giveaway is the hybrid-specific wheels - they may look like hubcaps, but these rims are actually made of lightweight aluminum and help reduce aerodynamic drag. If you're more concerned about saving the environment than looking like you're saving the environment, the Ford Fusion Hybrid is one of the best choices on the market.

Interior

Like the rest of the Fusion lineup, the Fusion Hybrid has a well-thought-out interior and many useful options. You've probably read about Sync and all of its technological features by now, so we won't bore you with the details. One of the other highlights inside the Fusion is its ergonomics - everything you need to use while driving is within easy reach. Some mid-size cars are getting extraordinarily wide, and it's difficult to accomplish simple tasks, like tuning the radio, without stretching and moving in your seat. In the Fusion, this isn't the case. It would have been easy to ignore the distance to the tuning knob with Sync's voice-recognition abilities, but Ford isn't snubbing people who can afford only a base car. The Fusion's seats are surprisingly comfortable and supportive, something we can't say about all mid-size hybrids. The trunk is large enough to swallow a week's worth of luggage for four people - a feat the ginormous, $100,000-plus Lexus LS600hL would find quite difficult. In short, there's no compromised, de-contented interior to remind you of Al Gore every mile you're behind the wheel.

The 2010 Fusion can also be equipped with an excellent twelve-speaker Sony surround-sound system. Ford recently started putting branded audio systems in its cars, and we applaud the move. Everything from satellite radio to CDs sounds clear, and the interior is quiet enough to help your ears pick out the most subtle musical sounds.

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