There is only one thing we don’t like about a Ford Fusion. We don’t like the fact that there isn’t one in our driveway. Seriously. The Ford Fusion has been one of our favorite cars for a some time now. A hybrid though? A plug-in? Think Prius…think no. So when we were told we would be getting a 2014 Ford Fusion Energi (cute marketing idea with the “I” like a 20-something recent marketing grad said “Hey, I’ve got a great idea!”), we were a little hesitant. The mind raced back to the Prius, with its cloth interior, and plastic surfaces.
As usual, we were wrong.
From the outside, the Energi has the good looks of the gas version of the Fusion. In addition to the special badges, the only way you can tell this is a hybrid is by the round charge port with an LED light ring on the driver’s side. Inside that trend continues. Like the regular Fusion the interior is roomy and very functional. There is the MyFord touch system, panned by some , but loved by us along with easy to read and well placed gauges. The seats in our model were leather and some of the most comfortable on the market; but we already knew that. Did we mentioned the Fusion is one of the best sedans in America?
The Ford Fusion Energi is available in two trims, SE Luxury and Titanium. With the SE Luxury you get a loaded machine set atop 17-inch alloy wheels. There’s automatic headlights, foglights, auto-dimming mirrors, keypad entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, power eight-way driver with lumbar support and four-way passenger front seat. There’s also dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, trip computer and a 110-volt household-style power outlet. Electronic gadgets include Sync voice-activated audio and cell phone interface; the MyFord Touch electronics interface (with 8-inch central LCD touchscreen and two 4-inch configurable gauge cluster displays); and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB interface.
The options on the SE Luxury that we had were keyless entry/ignition, remote start with pre-heating/-cooling of the interior and the Driver Assist package (automatic high-beam control, rain-sensing wipers, a blind-spot warning system, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist), rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, remote ignition. There is also a sunroof available along with a navigation system, an automated parallel-parking system (with front parking sensors) and adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake support, all of which we had in our vehicle.
The Titanium adds front sport seats and an upgraded audio system with 12 speakers and HD radio to the SE Luxury’s standard features. Exclusive options for the Titanium include a Premium Leather package and heated and ventilated front seats.
The only way you can really tell this isn’t a gas powered Fusion is when you “start” the engine, which isn’t really starting anything, more like lighting up everything. The MyFord screen lights up introducing you to the SmartGauge with EcoGuide. Information such as instantaneous fuel economy can be displayed on one of two 4.2-inch LCD screens on either side of the main gauges.
On the road, the Energi acts just like some of the other higher-end hybrids we’ve driven like the Lexus ES. The distinction between hybrid power delivered by a Permanent magnet AC synchronous motor and the 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine is flawless and nearly silent. As mentioned we’ve driven other hybrids so were used to the CVT transmission as well as the realization that you won’t be zipping around in a sports car. Sure, the power is adequate for everyday driving, but the 0-60 time is well, never mind.
Towards the end of the week, we were liking the Energi, and the fuel savings (38 mpg in hybrid), but being the non-hybrid sort we started missing the fully fuel powered Fusion. Then we decided to try a plug in commute. We plugged in the Energi overnight into a regular house outlet and took off (somewhat hesitantly at first we must confess). To our amazement the feel on the road under full electric was absolutely no different than we had experienced all week. On a 21-mile commute we drove 19 miles before the power ran out and gas engine kicked in. We didn’t notice a real difference and when we parked and saw we had used less than a half a gallon of fuel, we smiled. And we got it.
The best thing about the Ford Fusion Energi is the ability to deliver you up to 19 miles away without using a drop of gasoline. That’s money you can keep in your pocket. And that’s the true beauty of this Fusion. Sure there are a few issues, the trunk is only half the size of the regular Fusion, 8.2 cu ft as opposed to 16.0 cu ft. And perhaps the bigger issue that has earned the Fusion Energi its share of critics: The base MSRP of a gas powered Fusion starts at $21,900. The base MSRP for the Energi, $40,500. Our model with options topped out at $45,020 not including the $795 destination charge. But is that a turn off? Not to us.
If you compare the Energi to others in the plug-in hybrid segment, it starts to make a little more sense. The Chevrolet Volt gets about double the electric range, but with a lot less room. Then there is the Toyota Prius Plug-In hybrid, which does cost a little less, but has less electric only range and while the cabin is spacious, well don’t get us started. Finally, there is the Honda Accord Plug-In hybrid which has better numbers but costs more and is smaller.
That leaves the Fusion Energi. Built around one of the most popular sedans in history, packed full of options and fully capable of leaving most of you gas money in your pocket, the Energi is winner in our eyes. It may cost a little more on the front end, but when you consider all the money you’ll save at the pump, you may find it’s more affordable than you might think.
The 2014 Ford Fusion Energi
MSRP (as tested): $45,815
Engine: Permanent magnet AC synchronous motor w/Four cylinder 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle gasoline engine delivering total system power (sustain) of 188 hp.Charge time: 2.5 hours (240V), seven hours (120V)
Estimated cost to fully charge vehicle: Less than $1 (based on nationwide average cost of $0.10 per kWh)
MPG (EPA): 88 MPGe, 38 mpg gas 19 mile EV
MPG (as tested, combined road conditions): 40 mpg, 87 MPGe, 19 mile range
Width (folded mirrors) 75.2
Seating capacity Five
First row headroom 39.2
First row legroom 44.3
First row hip room 55
First row shoulder room 57.8
Second row headroom 37.8
Second row hip room 54.4
Second row legroom 38.3
Second row shoulder room 56.9
WEIGHTS AND CAPACITIES
Base curb weight 3,913 lbs.
Total interior volume (cu. ft.)111
Total luggage capacity (cu. ft.) 8.2
Eco cruise: Saves vehicle energy by relaxing acceleration compared to standard cruise control
EV mode button: Allows a driver to switch vehicle operation between three modes – all-electric (EV Now), normal hybrid operation (Auto) or conserve battery power for later use (EV Later)
Regenerative braking: Capable of capturing and reusing up to 95 percent of the kinetic energy of a vehicle coming to a stop
Hybrid transmission: Capable of operating at high speeds and in a smooth, fuel-efficient manner at the same time
Advanced lithium-ion batteries: Covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile component limited warranty – are smaller and lighter than previous-generation nickel-metal-hydride batteries
Charge port with LED light ring: Located on the driver’s side and near the front of the car, it features a light ring that illuminates to indicate charge status
Basic 3 Yr./ 36000 Mi.
Drivetrain 5 Yr./ 60000 Mi.
Hybrid Component 8 Yr./ 100000 Mi.
Roadside 5 Yr./ 60000 mi.