2014 Ford Fusion Introduction

When the five-passenger Ford Fusion debuted for 2013, many hailed it as the best-looking car in its class. Its wide grille and sleek lines make the Fusion appealing to the eye, and its wide range of available powertrains, including gas, hybrid, and plug-in, make it appealing to a variety of drivers.

New for 2014 is a turbocharged 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine that makes an estimated 178 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, slightly more on both counts than the base 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engine. Paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission, the 1.5-liter EcoBoost is expected to be the most fuel-efficient of all the gasoline powertrains. The 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine with the automatic is no longer available. Also new on the Fusion for 2014 are updated exterior colors and interior trim options.

Four gasoline engines are available on the 2014 Ford Fusion: The base 175-hp 2.5-liter four cylinder paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that earns an EPA-estimated 22/34 mpg City/Highway; a 178-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter EcoBoost that's available only with a 6-speed manual earning 25/37 mpg City/Highway; a 240-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a 6-speed automatic that is rated at 22/33 mpg City/Highway with front-wheel-drive and 22/31 mpg with the Titanium trim's optional all-wheel drive; and finally, the new 178-hp 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine.

Fusion Hybrid models pair a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor and an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (CVT). It's good for a maximum of 188 net horsepower, with fuel economy rated at 47 mpg in both city and highway driving.

The Ford Fusion Energi is plug-in hybrid that uses the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder found in the Fusion Hybrid, along with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. Fusion Energi is designed to run on pure electric power for short commutes and can be charged using a 120-volt or 240-volt outlet. Ford claims a combined range of up to 620 miles between the battery and the gas tank, with up to 21 miles in all-electric mode. It's EPA rated at 100 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), and has a charge time of about two and a half hours using a 240-volt charger, and about 7 hours using a 120-volt household outlet.

Although classified as midsize, the Fusion feels large and cavernous. This second-generation Fusion rides on a wheelbase that's about five inches longer than the first-generation version (2006-12), but overall body length is only an inch longer thanks to shorter overhangs.

Our test drive revealed solid handling and a comfortable ride, although the Fusion doesn't feel as nimble as other midsize sedans. Fusion feels big while driving, and a U-turn requires of plenty of space, although the turning circle was cut down a bit from the previous generation and beats that of the Honda Accord. We found the Fusion Hybrid operates smoothly but didn't love the low, grumbly sound it makes.

Technology includes Ford's Sync voice recognition and the MyFord Touch interface although both have their idiosyncrasies and can be frustrating, despite recent improvements. Optional advanced safety features include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot detection, lane-keeping assist, and an automatic parallel parking feature, the latter of which is normally reserved for high-end luxury cars.

Although good-looking, the Ford Fusion faces tough competition. If you're motivated by sleek, European-inspired design and a wide choice of powertrain options, the Ford Fusion is one of the best choices out there. But other automakers have recently updated their midsize offerings too, including perennial top-sellers like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Those who want something a little different might also consider the Hyundai Sonata and the Nissan Altima, which both offer solid driving dynamics in attractive packages, although their designs aren't as eye-catching as the Fusion's.

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