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2018 Ford Fusion Review

2018 Ford Fusion Review
The 2018 Ford Fusion is a feast for the senses, a rarity among family sedans.

The 2018 Ford Fusion mid-size sedan has aged well. It was our Best Car To Buy 2013 thanks to its confident ride, good looks, plenty of tech, and sharp handling.

Now in the 2018 model year, it’s still a winner, though we’re more critical of its average rear-seat accommodations and its plainer interior trims. Ford has said that the Fusion won't live on much longer.

Ford sells it in S, SE, Titanium, Sport, and Platinum trims, and in the balance, the Fusion merits our score of 7.3.

From the back, from the front, seen in profile, the Ford Fusion is as good-looking as family cars get. The stance and proportions remind us of expensive German machinery, the revamped front end of Ford’s past fling with Aston Martin. Inside, the Fusion could put more of that inspiration to good use, but the versatile Fusion can game out scenarios for cloth-seat drivers and for those who won’t have anything less than quilted leather.

The Fusion’s performance bona fides start off on a “meh” note with a low-aspiration 4-cylinder and a 6-speed automatic, but snap to attention through a procession of turbocharged 4- and 6-cylinders. The 1.5-liter turbo-4 copes well with commuter tasks, while the 2.0-liter turbo-4 busts out some of the most reasonably priced performance moves. Step into a twin-turbo V-6 Fusion, and the power won’t overwhelm its standard all-wheel drive; the added weight won’t help its otherwise crisp steering and firmly controlled ride motions. We’re still enamored with the Fusion’s blend of ride and handling, but base cars are unathletic and top Sport editions, even with adaptive dampers, are a bit musclebound for our tastes.

Ford revamped the Fusion’s interior last year, and it’s quieter and nicer, but rear-seat space is just average and skimpy on head room in back for taller folks. Ford fitted more storage in the Fusion, amid all the bins and cubbies and ample trunk space, it’s also made the USB ports more prominent.

The Fusion earns good crash-test scores, and Ford makes the latest forward-collision warning systems available on all but the base model. Every Fusion has Bluetooth audio streaming, power features, and a rearview camera. The features list tops out with active park assist, high-grade leather trim, a moonroof, 19-inch wheels, Sony audio, navigation, and inflatable rear seatbelts. Prices tip well over $40,000; The best value remains a Fusion SE, now outfitted with the optional adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning system.

Graceful and gently sporting, the Ford Fusion has an appealing body and a middling interior.

The current Ford Fusion made its debut in 2013. Five model years later, its lean and well-proportioned body still draws approving glances. Its cockpit has never been particularly beautiful, and it’s aged more quickly than the rest of the car.

We give the Fusion a 7 for styling, with two extra points for its exterior looks. 

From a few steps back, especially at the rear, the Fusion has the lovely silhouette of a more expensive car. The stance and proportions are some of Ford’s best work as of late. Like the Mazda 6, there’s a flow and presence to the shape that suggests the Audi A7, a car that resists the ravages of time.

Last year Ford revisited the shape and applied some mild updates to the grille and taillights. The new front end has a whiff of Aston Martin with its low oval-ish intake, while the rear LED lights now are bisected by a chrome strip.

Inside, Ford has cleaned up the Fusion’s functionality with a rotary shift knob, more storage bins, and better trim. The cockpit doesn’t have the swoopy extravagant lines of the inexpensive Focus and Fiesta. Instead, it’s content with simple metallic rings around its controls and gauges, with better trim relieving its lack of drama.

The more serious complaints about the interior can be leveled at the small screens on base models and their flanks of hard buttons. The Fusion also wears a fair amount of scratch-prone gloss black plastic, a material fancied by many automakers, one we’re sure won’t look very good to second and third owners after it’s swirled by cleaning or by life.

With either the available turbo V-6 or turbo-4, the Ford Fusion unspools plenty of power and a charming, taut blend of ride and handling.

A tightly controlled ride, strong acceleration, and well-tuned electric steering make the higher-spec Ford Fusion one of our favorite family sedans to drive.

It’s a 7 for performance, once its base model is factored in.

The Fusion taps four engines and a single transmission for power. The base engine is a forgettable 175-horsepower, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. Peak torque arrives high at 4,500 pounds, and it’s down on horsepower versus all its Fusion counterparts. You’ll find this engine in most price-leader and rental models; otherwise, steer clear.
The Fusion does better when it’s upgraded to a 181-horsepower, 1.5-liter turbo-4. Tuned for low-end torque, the small-displacement engine has reasonable performance from an engine half the size you’d expect in a family sedan from a decade ago.

The 245-hp turbo-4 found in upmarket Fusions has a quick-revving feel, and Ford has damped out most of its vibration. It steps smartly off the line, and works well with the paddle-shifted version of the 6-speed automatic.

The priciest Fusions sport a 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 with 325 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. All that power shuttles through the 6-speed to a standard all-wheel-drive system. Acceleration is brisk, but the engine adds a lot of weight to the sedan. Zero-to-60 mph times hover in the low six-second range. It may not be as quick as expected, but the V-6 sounds great and reels off long highway passes without hesitation.

Fusion ride and handling

The Fusion has electric power steering, an independent suspension composed of front struts and multiple links at the rear, and tires that range from 16 to 19 inches. The result: a vast gap between the economy-minded base Fusion and the flat-cornering Sport model.

In general, the Fusion has well-sorted steering and an absorbent, firm ride. In lower trim levels it never forgets its first mission is as a family sedan. The reassuring handling doesn’t cut too much into ride quality, and there’s an eagerness to the steering that’s absent in most other mid-size sedans. Its steering has a consistent feel across its travel, without much feedback, but with good weighting and highway tracking.

Specifically, we’ll call out the Fusion Sport and its standard 19-inch wheels and tires. It has adaptive dampers that smooth out the ride as best they can, but it’s set up for very firm responses and its turbocharged engine puts a lot of weight on the car’s front end. The Sport doesn’t needle its way through corners the way the turbo-4 engines can. They’re closer in spirit to the “sport” label; the Sport is an unabashed bruiser.

Comfort & Quality
The 2018 Ford Fusion suits four adults fine, with lovely plush touches on pricey models.

Ford wraps a sleek set of curves around its Fusion sedan. We wish they’d found a little more back-seat space, and the bin where they keep the good trim for otherwise forlorn base cars, but those gripes shouldn’t deter a deeper look and drive.

It’s a 7 on our comfort and utility scale, thanks to supportive front seats and good storage space. 

At 192 inches long, with a 112.2-inch wheelbase, the Fusion is mid-pack in the mid-size sedan category. The EPA says it’s almost full-size, and so does its 16-cubic-foot trunk.

Inside there’s a more nuanced picture to paint, so allow us to grab some brushes. In front, the Fusion balances leg and head room with its pretty shape pretty well. The thinly padded front seats don’t feel as meager as those in the Escape or Edge, and they’re comfortably bolstered. We wouldn’t mind a bottom cushion tilt adjuster on base cars; it angles up too much at the front edge. Tall doors make it easy to get in, and 6-footers will have enough head room in front.

In back, the Fusion comports itself well against the likes of the Altima and Sonata, but Impala, Accord, and Passat all have much more leg room. The Fusion’s seats are fairly flat back there, though they fold down for more trunk access. Small-item storage abounds thanks to a rotary gear dial. The Fusion’s console houses a bin with a lighted USB port, a slot for vertical smartphone storage, and a deep covered console.

Ford spends more money on the more expensive Fusion interiors. Sport models have sueded seats and aluminum pedals and they brim with burbly sport-exhaust sounds. Platinum models have quilted leather seats and door panels, and more leather on the dash and armrests. Base cars have an inexpensive cloth upholstery and tougher plastics below elbow levels. It’s not visibly cheap, but it’s enough of a prod to spend into the ritzier trim levels.

Crash-test scores are good, and the Ford Fusion now offers the latest safety gear on almost every model.

Ford scores reasonably well in Fusion crash tests, and it offers the latest safety technology on nearly every model.

We give the shapely, sporty sedan an 8 for safety. 

The most recent Fusion crash tests merit a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA. However, that score includes a four-star rating for frontal and rollover crash protection.

The IIHS gives the Fusion “Good” scores on crash tests and a "Superior" score for its optional crash avoidance technology. It’s an IIHS Top Safety Pick, which is admirable, but won't go any higher since its headlights don’t pass muster for the agency’s top award.

The Fusion offers great outward vision, thanks to a high driver seat, big glass areas, and slim roof pillars.

All sedans have a rearview camera, and rear parking sensors can be had on all models. Ford sells an inflatable rear seatbelt on some editions. It also offers active lane control and lane-departure warnings on all models, as well as forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking on all but the S model. Blind-spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, and active park assist are available.

Ford pushes the Fusion well past $40,000, but a well-equipped Fusion SE sedan is a good value.

The Ford Fusion comes in S, SE, Titanium, and Platinum editions. While Ford works on the inevitable Rhodium edition, it fits all Fusions with a fair amount of standard and optional features.

It’s worth an 8 for features, with extra points for the equipment levels and its infotainment system. 

All Fusion sedans come with power features, cloth seats, cruise control, air conditioning, a rearview camera, keyless ignition, a USB port, 16-inch wheels, steering-wheel audio and phone controls, and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD player with a 4.2-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth audio streaming.

The SE Fusion gets power front seats, 17-inch wheels, satellite radio, and LED exterior lighting. Options include the turbo-4 engines, 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, heated front seats, leather, navigation, remote start, Sync 3 infotainment (Ford’s latest, and a clean and marked departure from the terrible MyFord Touch environment), automatic climate control, rear parking sensors, and safety gear like lane-departure warnings, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors.

Fusion Sport models add adaptive shocks, all-wheel drive, shift paddles, 19-inch wheels, LED headlights, leather and suede seats, a nine-speaker audio system, and active noise cancellation.

Fusion Titanium sedans have heated front seats, leather, 12-speaker Sony audio, HD radio, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, 18-inch wheels, and ambient lighting. Options include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, inflatable rear seatbelts, and 19-inch wheels.

At the top of the Fusion peak, the Platinum gets a sunroof, automatic high beams, ventilated front seats, navigation, nicer leather, 18-inch wheels, and all the safety technology optional on other models.

Fuel Economy
Four-cylinder Ford Fusions are fine, but for the best fuel economy, find a Hybrid.

The Ford Fusion posts average to above-average fuel economy ratings, but for even higher figures, there’s a hybrid in the family.

We rate it a 7 for gas mileage, since Ford sells many Fusions with the thrifty 4-cylinder. 

Fusion S and Fusion SE sedans have a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that pairs with a 6-speed automatic. The EPA most recently rated this combination at 21 mpg city, 32 highway, 25 combined.

Real-world fuel economy will most likely improve when you’re driving the available 1.5-liter turbo-4. It’s pegged at 23/34/27 mpg, and stop/start is standard.

Ford fits a 2.0-liter turbo-4 with direct injection to the Fusion Titanium and Fusion Platinum. Still coupled to the 6-speed automatic, it earns 21/31/25 mpg in front-drive form, 20/29/23 mpg with all-wheel drive.

The performance Fusion Sport garners EPA ratings of 17/26/20 mpg, relatively thirsty thanks to its hot 2.7-liter twin-turbo V-6 and all-wheel drive.

Ford also offers the Fusion Hybrid and plug-in Energi sedan, which we cover separately.


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