In a class generally known for bland styling and a lack of driving excitement, the Fusion is a breath of fresh air with a stylish, fun to drive demeanor. That doesn't mean it's free of certain quirks that can erode one's enthusiasm. The Fusion looks upscale and stylish, and it handles like a really good European sports sedan. No matter which version you choose, it impresses with a composed, civilized ride that's as good as luxury cars costing twice as much. The cabin is also blessedly quiet.
The Fusion ranks among the best-handling midsized sedans we've tested, making it rewarding and fun to drive. And the Hybrid model posted among the best fuel economy we've measured in a midsized sedan: 39 mpg overall. A plug-in Energi version is also available.
So what are the problems? Most Fusions have an EcoBoost turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that falls short in acceleration and fuel economy when compared with competitive models. The 1.5 returns only 24 mpg overall, falling far below the average in the class, which increasingly has cars that deliver 30 mpg or better. Moreover, while ordinarily the car doesn't feel slow, 0-to-60-mph acceleration falls about a second slower than many peer models. A mediocre non-turbo 2.5-liter four-cylinder is standard.
An EcoBoost 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, redesigned for 2017, is an up-level option. It pulls strongly, but still falls behind rival V6s in the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry when it comes to both acceleration and fuel economy. (Then again, the Fusion offers all-wheel-drive with this engine, a feature you won't find in any Accord or Camry.) The top-level Sport model has a potent twin-turbo 2.7-liter V6 with standard all-wheel-drive. Equipped this way, the Fusion feels like a budget upscale sedan, but the price typically surpasses $40,000.
Compared to more upright family cars like the Accord, Camry, and Subaru Legacy, the Fusion sacrifices some practicality for styling. Cabin space is a little snug, which compromises the driving position and rear-seat room. The Fusion's sleek form reduces function, cutting into outward visibility. At least a rear camera is standard.
Controls are simple overall. An easy-to-use dial shifter adds some clever safeguards to prevent rollaway accidents. The optional Sync 3 touch-screen infotainment system is a big improvement over the previously troublesome and cumbersome MyFord Touch system, providing extensive connectivity and intuitive operation. If you don't like Sync 3's simple displays, the system includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, providing a familiar interface to those smartphone users.
The standard cloth seats feel flaccid and unsupportive, but the optional leather chairs are considerably better.
Forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking finally became available as part of the 2017 update. However, these valuable safety systems are only available as an option, and force you to get a lot of other options, driving up the price. Many other midsized sedans, like the Legacy and Accord, make these features more readily available.
For many people, the Fusion's gripes may be trumped by its dashing styling and stellar driving experience. But they were enough to keep the car from scoring in the top tier in our midsized-sedan ratings.