Review: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Gadgets

Drivers will likely fall in love with the SmartGauge, a pair of 4.3-inch, high-resolution LCD screens, flanking the analog speedometer, that can display various information to the driver. There are four default views, which can provide information to help new or veteran hybrid drivers understand how to get the best fuel economy from their Fusion Hybrid. Most of our testing was done with the "engage" setting, which is a level below the most advanced "empower" setting. We found the engage display to be informative and easy to understand, plus the vines and leaves that appear on the right-hand screen are easy to comprehend at a glance - the more vines and leaves you see, the less fuel you're using. It's likely this display will become a sort of in-car video game where drivers try to beat their last "score" of leaves and vines. Let's just hope they concentrate on the road more than the display.

Powertrain

The powertrain is where the Ford Fusion Hybrid really stands out from the other Fusion. Obviously this Fusion features a hybrid powertrain, but a less obvious fact is that the car can travel at speeds up to 47 mph on electric power alone. It's theoretically possible to accelerate to 47 mph without using the gasoline engine, but if there are any other cars on the road, that's not a practical solution. It's better to accelerate normally and then let the EV mode take over at cruising speeds. We regularly attained EV mode during cruising sessions and sometimes were able to maintain speed up small hills without the four-cylinder kicking in. Save slight whirring sounds from the motor, the Fusion is completely silent in EV mode.

The 2.5-liter I-4 gasoline engine, which runs on the Atkinson cycle, provides most of the thrust in normal driving. The transition between the EV and internal-combustion modes is almost impossible to detect. Ford truly leads the class in refinement when the gasoline engine transitions on and off. With an output of 156 hp and 136 lb-ft of torque from the gasoline engine and 106 hp from the electric motor, the net output is 191 hp. Although the Fusion wasn't designed as a performance hybrid, the car is certainly quick enough to be easy to live with. And, after all, most buyers likely will be more concerned with squeezing the maximum mileage from each gallon of fuel than merging with highway traffic.

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