Ford Fusion, Mercedes-Benz ML, Lexus RX - Powertrain Comparison

Ford Fusion, hybrid versus gasoline

The 2010 Ford Fusion is available in five trim levels: S, SE, SEL, Sport, and Hybrid. Powertrain options include a 2.5-liter I-4, 3.0-liter V-6, 3.5-liter V-6, and the hybrid which uses a 2.5-liter I-4 coupled to an electric motor. The up level SEL and Sport models are available with either front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. S and SE trims can be paired with either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission.

Manufacturers often package hybrid offerings with more equipment to help justify the higher sticker price. For the Fusion, the four-cylinder SEL most closely matches the equipment level of the Hybrid. The SEL has a 6-speed automatic transmission, while the hybrid is mated to a continuously variable transmission. The SEL has 175 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque, compared to the hybrid's 191 hp (with both the electric motor and gas engine powering the wheels in concert) and 135 lb-ft of torque. Both sedans come equipped with niceties including Sync, 17-inch wheels, and dual-zone climate control. A few minor options differentiate the two. The SEL includes a chrome exhaust, leather, heated front seats, and ambient lighting, while the Hybrid includes a 6-disc in-dash CD changer, passive anti-theft system, and an auto-dimming rear view mirror.

The 2010 Fusion SEL starts at $25,405 (including $750 for destination). The Hybrid comes in a little higher at $28,675, a $3270 premium. The SEL gets a city/highway combined average of 25 mpg, while the Hybrid achieves 39 mpg. Based on $2.93 per gallon, the SEL costs 11.7 cents per mile to operate, whereas the Hybrid costs only 7.5 cents per mile. At 15,000 miles per year, the annual fuel savings for the Fusion Hybrid would be $630. A Hybrid owner would break even in just 77,857 miles, or a little more than five years.

Additionally, the Fusion Hybrid owner would enjoy a longer cruising range of 663 miles, versus the SEL's 438 miles. And the EPA says the the annual carbon dioxide produced from the SEL would be 7.5 tons while the Hybrid would emit just 4.8 tons.

- Hybrid price premium over SEL $3270
- Hybrid Fusion offers annual fuel savings of $630
- Price premium can be recouped within 6 years or 77,857 miles

According to the MB website, the ML Bluetec has a towing capacity of 7,200 lbs, not 5,000.
How about accounting for the larger annual insurance costs and larger depreciation that more expensive vehicles of the same type incur? If you did that, you'd find out that alternative powertrains never pay off.

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