2009 Nissan Altima, 2009 Toyota Camry, 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid Comparison

March 24, 2009
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0903 14 Z+2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid+2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid
Gas prices have been as volatile as the stock market lately and experts assure us both will be rebounding, though nobody knows exactly when. Investing in the market now, though it might seem counterintuitive, could set you up for a handsome reward in the future. The same goes for buying a new fuel-efficient automobile. If you purchase a hybrid vehicle today, when demand for fuel-sippers is relatively modest, you'll probably end up getting a better deal on the car and you're also insulating yourself from future spikes in gasoline prices. Think of it as an automotive hedge fund, but without the sleazy Wall Street guys and enormous bonus scandals.
We've rounded up the three most logical choices for a family looking to save on fuel: The 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid, 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid, and 2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid are the three midsize sedans with full hybrid powertrains. General Motors offers hybrid versions of its Saturn Aura and Chevrolet Malibu, but those two are mild hybrids and can't operation in EV mode. Since the gas savings from a mild hybrid is negligible, we left those two cars out of this group. Conversely, the 2010 Toyota Prius and 2010 Honda Insight, which are offered only as hybrids, both get excellent fuel economy. But they have polarizing looks that shout their green credentials. For those looking to buy a normal-looking sedan with the exceptional fuel economy of a hybrid, the Fusion, the Camry, and the Altima are the three most logical choices.
0903 11 Z+2010 Ford Focus Hybrid+profile View
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
If you're looking for the most cutting-edge hybrid that's based on a traditional midsize sedan, the Fusion is immediately impressive. The SmartGauge display is the most advanced instrumentation in this trio of hybrids, with four levels of information from the twin 4.3-inch, high-resolution LCD displays that flank the analog speedometer. Everyone who drove the Fusion had something great to say about the SmartGauge.
Once you get past the SmartGauge and pay attention to the powertrain that's being monitored so effectively, there's even more to love. This Fusion Hybrid can cruise on electric power alone at speeds up to 47 mph and the car frequently switches to EV mode once you reach cruising speed. We loved the seamless transition between gas and electric propulsion and we also thought the Fusion felt the most like a normal car. Consider the Fusion to be our choice for driving enthusiasts and eco-minded drivers alike.
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
Price: $27,995 (base)
Powertrain:
Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC I-4
Power: 156 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 136 lb-ft @ 2250 rpm
Electric Motor:
Type: 400v permanent magnet AC motor
Power: 106 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 166 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
Battery:
Type: 275v Nickel-Metal Hydride
Output: 35 hp
System Total Power: 191 hp
Transmission: Continuously variable automatic
Wheels, Tires: 17-inch aluminum, 225/50VR17
Measurements
L x W x H: 190.6" x 80.1" x 56.9"
Legroom F/R: 42.3"/36.7"
Headroom F/R: 38.7"/37.8"
Trunk capacity: 11.8 cu ft
Curb Weight: 3720 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 41/36 mpg
0903 21 Z+2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid+front Three Quarter View
2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid
Despite the Fusion's impressive showing, we're betting most consumers still think Toyota when searching for a hybrid. Toyota certainly scored a huge success with the Prius, which has become the poster child for the hybrid car movement. Combining the technology that made the Prius famous with the Camry's legendary popularity is certainly a recipe for success, but the Camry Hybrid's secret handicap is that it's the oldest car in this group.
We had a difficult time keeping the Camry in EV mode when pulling away from a stop and the car didn't want to cruise in EV mode like the Fusion. The Camry also does nothing to connect with its driver - the steering and brakes provide the least feedback in the class and the purpose of the car seems to be to insulate the driver as much as possible. So the Camry Hybrid is primarily for people who have no interest in driving and wish to save fuel when they do. Enthusiasts need not apply, but there are millions of drivers who would be perfectly happy with a Camry Hybrid.
2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid
Price: $26,870 (base)
Powertrain:
Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC I-4
Power: 147 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 138 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Electric Motor:
Type: 650v permanent magnet AC motor
Power: 199 hp @ 0-1500 rpm
Battery:
Type: 244.8v Nickel-Metal Hydride
Output: 40 hp
System Total Power: 187 hp
Transmission: Continuously variable automatic
Wheels, Tires: 16-inch aluminum, P215/60R16
Measurements
L x W x H: 189.2" x 71.7" x 57.5"
Legroom F/R: 41.6"/38.3"
Headroom F/R: 38.8"/37.8"
Trunk capacity: 10.6 cu ft
Curb Weight: 3680 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 33/34 mpg
0903 08 Z+2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid+front Three Quarter View
2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid
The Nissan Altima Hybrid is the car you're least likely to see on the road, but that's not because the Altima is a bad ride. Nissan sells the Altima Hybrid only in eight states (California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont). Actually, we enjoyed the Altima Hybrid nearly as much as the newer Ford Fusion. As one would imagine, the Altima (like many Nissan products) is much more involving than the Camry, but it isn't nearly as refined as a Ford Fusion Hybrid.
With smoother transitions between gas and EV modes as well as some extra attention paid to suspension tuning, and better fuel economy, the Altima might be able to challenge the Fusion for the hybrid midsize crown. But if you're living in one of the eight states where Altima Hybrids are sold, it's certainly worth a test drive.
2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid
Price: $27,345 (base)
Powertrain:
Engine: 2.4-liter DOHC I-4
Power: 158 hp @ 5200-6000 rpm
Torque: 162 lb-ft @ 2800-4800 rpm
Electric Motor:
Type: 650v permanent magnet AC motor
Power: 40 hp @ 0-1500 rpm
Battery:
Type: 244.8v Nickel-Metal Hydride
Output: 40 hp
System Total Power: 198 hp
Transmission: Continuously variable automatic
Wheels, Tires: 16-inch aluminum, P215/60R16
Measurements
L x W x H: 189.8" x 70.7" x 57.9"
Legroom F/R: 44.1"/35.8"
Headroom F/R: 40.6"/36.8"
Trunk capacity: 10.1 cu ft
Curb Weight: 3471 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 35/33 mpg

  2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid 2009 Nissan Altima Hybrid
Price: $27,995 (base) $26,870 (base) $27,345 (base)
Powertrain:      
Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC I-4 2.4-liter DOHC I-4 2.4-liter DOHC I-4
Power: 156 hp @ 6000 rpm 147 hp @ 6000 rpm 158 hp @ 5200-6000 rpm
Torque: 136 lb-ft @ 2250 rpm 138 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm 162 lb-ft @ 2800-4800 rpm
Electric Motor:      
Type: 400v permanent magnet AC motor 650v permanent magnet AC motor 650v permanent magnet AC motor
Power: 106 hp @ 6500 rpm 199 hp @ 0-1500 rpm 40 hp @ 0-1500 rpm
Torque: 166 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm - -
Battery:      
Type: 275v Nickel-Metal Hydride 244.8v Nickel-Metal Hydride 244.8v Nickel-Metal Hydride
Output: 35 hp 40 hp 40 hp
System Total Power: 191 hp 187 hp 198 hp
Transmission: Continuously variable automatic Continuously variable automatic Continuously variable automatic
Wheels, Tires: 17-inch aluminum, 225/50VR17 16-inch aluminum, P215/60R16 16-inch aluminum, P215/60R16
Measurements      
L x W x H: 190.6" x 80.1" x 56.9" 189.2" x 71.7" x 57.5" 189.8" x 70.7" x 57.9"
Legroom F/R: 42.3"/36.7" 41.6"/38.3" 44.1"/35.8"
Headroom F/R: 38.7"/37.8" 38.8"/37.8" 40.6"/36.8"
Trunk capacity: 11.8 cu ft 10.6 cu ft 10.1 cu ft
Curb Weight: 3720 lb 3680 lb 3471 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 41/36 mpg 33/34 mpg 35/33 mpg

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2010 Ford Fusion

S FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4
starting at (MSRP)
$19,695
Engine
2.5L I4
Fuel Economy
22 City 31 Hwy
2010 Ford Fusion