Review: 2017 Ford Fusion SE AWD

I spent a few days with this mid-tier Ford Fusion while my Fiesta was in the shop. Frankly I was quite impressed that the dealership offered this as a courtesy vehicle as last time I was given a fairly basic (albeit brand new) Focus SE. While I say mid-tier, this SE trim came pretty much loaded with leather seats, AWD, sunroof, 18″ alloys, and Sync 3 with navigation. For the record, there’s a Titanium, Platinum, and Sport trim above this level but I certainly don’t see many people needing more than this SE with the 202A package, priced at around $35000.

Ford Fusion SE Black Rear 3/4

Clean and attractive exterior design


Design

In this Shadow Black paintjob with the LED headlights and 18″ Machine faced two-tone wheels, the Fusion looks fantastic. It’s a simple overall design with the right amount of lines and a fascia that’s a good balance of class and sportiness. The overall package is very cohesive and no design element looks forced on this car (unlike the grille on the Camry or the headlights on the Altima). On the interior they did a great job with the door trim and rotary shifter, but I did find the center console to feel rather bland. A splash of wood around the cupholders and head unit would be appreciated. it’s a good enough interior but it doesn’t really impress me like it does on the outside.

Ford Fusion SE Interior

Center stack is a bit bland


Comfort and Convenience

While the interior isn’t much to look at, it is rather functional. The dual-screen gauge cluster is easy to navigate with the steering wheel controls and the rotary shifter is very intuitive while offering an upmarket feel. The climate controls are simple and the new Sync 3 system is snappy and simple to use. The colours/theme used on Sync 3 again is a bit of a let down though and just looks cheap (think early 2000’s Mac OS X). I guess after MyFordTouch they went full function over form, and function well it does.

 

Ford Fusion Sync 3 Climate Controls

Sync 3 Climate Controls

After sitting in the Chrysler 200 and Mazda 6, I was a little worried that the sleek roofline of the Fusion would compromise rear seat headroom but I was pleased to find that I fit comfortably in the back seat of the Fusion. The middle seat however is best reserved for children due to the higher seat height and transmission/drivetrain hump. The trunk is fairly long but the lack of space saving hinges impedes significantly into the usable cargo area. As far as I know, all of the Fusion’s competitors also use goose-neck hinges but the Fusion’s are particularly bulky.

 

Ford Fusion 2017 trunk

Trunk space slightly compromised by hinges

The seats aren’t great, they lack any real shape or support but would easily accommodate someone double my size. The mid-size sedan segment doesn’t have a lot of great front seats but surprisingly Toyota nails it with a seat that’s supportive, sporty, comfortable, yet still easy to get in and out of in the refreshed Camry. Apart from the seats, I also found the pedal positioning to be quite uncomfortable. The brake pedal is a good 2″ higher than the gas pedal and that leads to some pretty awkward articulation that’s tiring in stop and go traffic. I want to be able to just slide my foot left and right between the pedals and I simply can’t do so effortlessly in this car.

 

Ford Fusion Pedals

Pedal placement is not ideal

Ergonomically then, the Fusion is a bit of a mixed bag, the touch points and infotainment are pretty good but the driving position isn’t great. One thing that did blow me away about this car though was just how quiet it is. The Ecoboost motor paired with the traditional 6-speed automatic never needs to rev all that high but I think the secret is in the front door weather stripping. There’s three layers of weather stripping which probably costs Ford no more than $10 per car but it makes all the difference when talking about NVH and how well insulated this cabin feels. Combine this with a well-calibrated electric steering and the Fusion makes for an excellent highway cruiser that just eats up the miles.


Driving

There’s not much to say about the way the Fusion drives, steering is vague and overall the car has a laid back feel. In terms of handling, the Fusion corners reasonably flat with no secondary movements in the suspension. It feels tight and “European”, but in reality this car isn’t for canyon carving and isn’t sporty by any stretch of the imagination. This particular vehicle even had a torque vectoring display with it’s “intelligent AWD” but you’ll see that it’s predominantly running on FWD unless you really step on it. The Ecoboost motors have a ton of low end torque and I never found myself using more than 15% throttle, even when going uphill. In fact, it feels like a diesel at times with it’s lazy to rev but torquey power delivery. Even in traffic I managed to get between 11-12L/100km which is very reasonable for a car of this size.

 

Fusion Trip Computer

As tested fuel economy

The 6 speed automatic transmission feels a generation behind and isn’t as smooth or quick-shifting as some of the newer gearboxes. In the mid-size segment, paddle shifters are generally reserved for the sportier trims but the Fusion does have it even in this luxury spec, unfortunately they’re not all that responsive. Frankly, as blasphemous as it is to say it, the Fusion might have been better with a CVT which would not be a bit smoother and improve fuel economy which is more important in this class. I would even go as far as to argue that modern CVT transmissions can offer a better response and simulated shifter feel than this dated conventional 6 speed.

 

Fusion Paddle Shift

Paddle shifters are the right size and illuminated

To give it some contrast though, the Range Rover Evoque shares the same 2 Liter Ecoboost engine but is paired with a more modern ZF 9 speed automatic which feels much livelier. That being said, the last time I drove an Evoque it would not engage into Reverse so there’s that…


Verdict

I feel like I’ve been a bit harsh on the Fusion in this review, because I actually like it a lot. In many ways it looks and feels more expensive than it really is. It’s not a fun car to drive but it is well composed and incredibly quiet which is what matters in this segment. The fuel economy is pretty decent and it offers AWD as an option which really sets it apart from the competition. The driving position doesn’t suit me but I have a friend that’s 6’4″ and about 250lbs who is quite comfortable in his Fusion so this point is entirely subjective. The user-friendliness of the tech is not subjective though and Ford has really broadened the appeal with Sync 3. This might not be the car for me but there’s a lot to like here and it easily competes with the best in its segment.


Also See:

  • Honda Accord: The V6 version offers a more engaging drive but also tends to use more at the pump. Hondalink is a nightmare to use and the seats aren’t great either but resale value is always strong with this midsize sedan staple.
  • Toyota Camry: Great brand value and customer base indifference always meant that the Camry never tried all that hard but with the 2015 refresh it’s a lot better inside and out. The best-selling midsize car by a pretty big margin.
  • Chevrolet MalibuPerhaps the best-reviewed car in this segment. Great chassis engineering, easy to use infotainment, and dealer incentives make this car worth checking out

Avoid:

  • Chrysler 200With a terrible back seat and spotty reliability, it’s no wonder FCA wants to axe it. It does have an AWD option but the Ford is a much better car.
  • Volkswagen PassatFacade of European sophistication but a pretty average chassis. Best thing going for it was the TDI and we all know what happened there… 
  • Mazda 6I actually like this one a lot and it’s the best driver by quite a margin, but there’s a reason no one buys it. Priced like a V6 but with only one engine choice, cramped but “sporty” interior. The mid-size sedan for someone who’s not really looking for a mid-size sedan

Pictures

Fusion Door Cards

Very attractive door trim

Ford Fusion Rear Door Cards

Even the rear door cards are well trimmed

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Remember these? Yep Fusion still has em

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The night time theme is a bit more visually appealing

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Splashes of chrome and LED accents are nice touches

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Fusion’s LED lighting looks modern and effective

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Rotary shifter is simple and attractive. Massive cupholders.

fusion-navi-sync-3

Navigation is pretty clean and simple with useful information

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Ecoboost and AWD, no drift mode here though

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Back seat is a pretty nice place to be

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