2008 Ford Fusion Performance
This performance review was written when the 2008 Ford Fusion was new.
The Ford Fusion is a good performer with acceptable acceleration, above-average handling and admirable fuel economy. According to the, the Fusion is "a midsize sedan that offers a choice of engines, a peppy V6 to pull out and pass or climb the steep hill and a high-mileage four-cylinder to get there and back without pulling up to a pump and handing over wallet or purse for a ration of fuel."
The Ford Fusion is based on the Mazda6 platform, which also underpins the Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ. It is offered with a 2.3-liter four-cylinder or an optional 3.0-liter V6 engine. To Cars.com, "The Fusion is a credible four-door sedan that's priced reasonably, has appealing fuel economy and delivers satisfying road behavior. Performance with the V-6 is better than the midsize norm, and the Fusion's six-speed automatic functions capably." The reports, "This is a good-driving car, approaching the control of top sport sedans without compromising cruising refinement."
For some, a ride in the Fusion calls to mind import sedans. "For the most part, the Fusion felt Euro, almost like a Volkswagen or an Audi," claims BusinessWeek, adding, "If one thing kept occurring to me throughout my time with the vehicle, it was a pleasing sense of tightness." Car and Driver looks further east, writing, "Controllable, stable, and deliberate, it nearly matches the performance and handling of its formidable Japanese competitors." Most reviewers find that the Fusion has a sportier ride than its in-class competitors. "Overall, the Fusion is engaging," reports Road and Track. "It tracks steady and true on twisty roads and flatters the driver in a way that the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry can't."
Acceleration and Power
The base 2.3-liter four-cylinder Fusion creates 160 horsepower and 156 pound-feet of torque, while the optional 3.0-liter V6 delivers 221 horsepower and 205 pound-feet of torque. Our own U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman says the base engine is "an economical option that offers about average power for this class," while the V6 configuration is "an advanced combo that allows gas mileage in the mid-20s along with crisp, responsive power." While Road and Track writes, "While the engine has sufficient power for most situations, more torque on this 3280-lb. sedan would make this good car a great one", the adds that, "Acceleration is decent if not exciting, with effortless highway cruising and good passing ability."
Critics see the four-cylinder engine as uninspiring but adequate. The Consumer Guide, the "four-cylinder Fusions are adequate at best," and exhibit "inordinately heavy clutch action." The Fusion does excel in one area: fuel economy. Edmunds calls it a "strong point," with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 20 miles per gallon in the city and 29 on the highway for the manual transmission, and 20 mpg and 28 mpg with automatic models.notes, "For its size, it's a solid powerplant," while the claims that it "wouldn't burn rubber unless you pour gas on the treads and strike a match." With the manual transmission, reports
The V6 is no slouch when it comes to fuel economy, with an EPA estimate of 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Kelley Blue Book observes, "We recommend the 3.0-liter V6, because there is very little fuel economy penalty for its greater power and superior drivability." New Car Test Drive concurs, writing, "Considering the improved performance, smoother six-speed automatic transmission and almost identical fuel consumption, the V6 model is probably the best value for most buyers." BusinessWeek points out that while the V6 power output is not competitive in its class, the car “doesn't feel sluggish or unwilling to leap to action when pushed."
The base four-cylinder engines are mated to either a five-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic transmission, while V6’s are only available with a six-speed automatic. Most test drivers feel that the manual transmission is adequate, providing smooth operation and good fuel economy. However, MSN observes that the "manual doesn't have the best shift linkage."
Most reviewers agree that the optional six-speed automatic transmission performs well, though it has its faults. Cars.com points out that while "some gear changes are virtually seamless and others are mildly noticeable," none are “awkward or bothersome," and that the transmission "functions capably." Other critics do voice minor gripes about the six-speed automatic. Motor Trend reports, "A more extensive gate is needed, or maybe a 'sport' mode or adaptive shift logic that senses enthusiastic driving and holds lower gears longer." Road and Track writes, "On hilly roads, the Fusion could benefit from an overdrive lockout switch." And true to their sporting ways, some reviewers wish the V6 could be paired with a manual transmission. Kelley Blue Book complains, "Ford didn't see fit to place a manual transmission in the V6-powered models, essentially cutting short the Fusion's potential as a bona fide driving enthusiast's car."
Handling and Braking
Most say handling is one of the Fusion's strong suits. Our own U.S. News’ Rick Newman claims that the "handling is firm and enjoyable," and that "the Fusion enters corners like it actually wants to be there." Kelley Blue Book adds the Fusion delivers "handling that rivals a European sports sedan," thanks largely to "its sophisticated short- and long-arm front suspension, which offers geometry that's superior to the nearly-ubiquitous MacPherson strut arrangement." The e generally agrees, observing, "In cornering, the Fusion was a rigid, flat vessel, suggesting only a hint of understeer and clinging to winding roads through the mountains." Cars.com perhaps reflects the opinion of most, stating, "This sedan maneuvers smartly through narrow, curvy roads and follows the driver's lead without much fuss."
Reviewers are impressed by the Fusion's steering. Automobile Magazine says that it "talks to you in self-assured tones, never asking for a mid-turn correction." The Los Los Angeles Times contends, "The steering feel is heavy, taut and accurate and it makes driving the car hard more fun than it properly ought to be." The Auto Channel deems it "perfect, not too light, and certainly not heavy or slow." However, in a rare negative point raised by test drivers, Car and Driver says that while the "steering wheel asks reasonable effort and provides decent feedback," it is "a little too light and a touch numb."
The four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes are generally praised. Cars.com notes "The brakes behave well in demanding driving and are easy to modulate," and Motor Trend adds they "stop reassuringly, though the pedal could be firmer." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel succinctly sums up the brakes on the Fusion: "Braking is excellent."
V6-equipped Fusions are available with an all-wheel drive (AWD) option that is not available on the four-cylinder models. Test drivers almost universally praised the sure-footed handling and road manners of the system on the Fusion. The all-wheel drive experience, finds BusinessWeek, "isn't sporty exactly, especially since the car isn't stocked with a surplus of power, but confident and, surprisingly, rather fun. Certainly, the Fusion is capable of taking more rough stuff than your neighbor's plain-Jane, two-wheel-drive midsize." New Car Test Drive reports, "The all-wheel-drive Fusion offers excellent handling stability and grip in adverse conditions. We drove one on a heavily watered down handling course at Ford's sparkling new proving grounds and were impressed with its ability to hold a line and not get out of shape in transient maneuvers." About.com raises one notable concern about splurging on the AWD system, "Frankly, I'd stay away from it; AWD can be a terrible gas waster. The Fusion handles well enough in the front-wheel-drive version. Live in snow country? You'd be amazed what a decent set of snow tires can do."