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2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid is Family-Friendly Sedan

Excellent Fuel Economy, Roominess Make Fusion Good Choice

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2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid

The 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid is a stylish sedan offering plenty of room and excellent handling.

Photo: Lori Weaver

Having shopped for, and purchased, a new car recently it's difficult not to compare every vehicle I test-drive to my current ride. When that current ride consisted primarily of a 200,000-mile-plus bucket of bolts, any car I reviewed started out looking pretty well. But now that I'm the happy new owner of a 2012 Ford Focus, decked out sharp with sport trim, it gets a whole lot harder to get my attention. Happily, the Ford Fusion Hybrid still managed to do just that.

When I told my contact out at Paul Miller Ford here in Lexington that I wanted to test drive a new Ford Fusion Hybrid, I'm sure their first thought was that they'd had quite enough of me after going through the car buying process with me only a week or so earlier. But they're good sports and soon I was back in their parking lot, ready to take the Fusion Hybrid though its paces.

Roomy Interior

My very first impression of the Fusion was that it was much larger from the inside than an exterior view would predict. I'm sure part of my impression about Fusion's roomy interior were colored by the fact that I drive a smaller car, but I always feel I have plenty of room in my own vehicle and so when I experienced Fusion Hybrid's roomy interior, my first impression was that this was a car a family could take over the road for a long spring break vacation together without any complaints that one sibling was "touching" the other.

Since my first impression had to do with the interior, let me talk a little bit more about the inside before going further. While roominess is a definite plus and the Fusion's unique gauge cluster, named SmartGauge, does the job with a pair of color display screens anchoring each side of a more-traditional speedometer. As with most of today's cars, the driver can flip through a number of displays to gain all sorts of information. One of the features that is particularly green is a graphic of a plant with animated leaves and branches that grows right along with your ability to economically drive the car. The greener you are, the greener this animated little plant becomes. It's a cute visual and a quick way to get a read on how various driving techniques or maneuvers may be impacting your fuel economy.

The interior itself appears to be well-built with quality materials. My only reservation, which is truly a matter of taste, was that I found the interior dash and surrounding area in particular, to be just a bit bland. I'd had about a week or so to enjoy the very European, very sporty dash and interior of my Focus and moving to the Fusion actually seemed a bit of a letdown. But then again, the two cars are targeted at different consumers and it's hard to be too critical of the Fusion's clean lines and excellent functionality. In addition, the Fusion Hybrid I drove had the optional rear view video camera, an excellent safety feature that is also fun to utilize. Rear leg room is more than adequate, even for a couple of adults. Interior storage is adequate.

One more word about Fusion's interior: for those who find the MyFordTouch system found in the Focus, Edge and Explorer, you might prefer to get the available Sync system in the Fusion which integrates audio and Bluetooth functionality with voice-recognition technology to provide hands-free operation of cell phones and portable MP3 players. The navigation system is optional but some consumers have found its touchscreen easier to use than the MyFordTouch system.

Style and Trim

The 2012 Fusion Hybrid is equipped very much like the Fusion SEL which adds to the standard equipment offering with different 17-inch wheels, keyless entry pad, heated mirrors, automatic dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable driver seat lumbar, a four-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, ambient interior lighting and Sync. However, the Hybrid brings its specialized gauge cluster and adds leather seating as an option.

Turning to Performance

A 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine delivers 156 hp and 136 lb-ft of torque. It is buddied up with an electric motor that helps boost power output up to 191 hp. A specialized continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) sends power forward and acceleration to 60 mph from a standstill in 8.7 seconds can be realized, which is fairly impressive for a hybrid.

The Ford Fusion Hybrid can be commended for its excellent handling. Don't let the roominess fool you, this is a car that holds the road and does what you ask.

The trunk has plenty of room, even though the Fusion Hybrid's truck area is 11.8 cubic feet compared with the non-hybrid's 16.5 cubic feet. They Hybrid version still give you plenty of room for groceries or luggage for the entire family.

Pros: Roominess, fuel economy, handling

Cons: A bit dull in its interior styling

Fuel economy: EPA-estimated 41 mpg city/36 mpg highway and 39 mpg combined.

MSRP: $28,775

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