Style and Passenger Room in 100-MPGe Plug-in Model
The Ford Fusion Energi offers a robust plug-in electric system in an ultra-popular roomy full-size sedan platform. The model offers the equivalent of about 100 miles per gallon, without compromising style or passenger space. After its battery is depleted, the Fusion Energi still delivers 38 miles per gallon.
The Ford Fusion is one of the most attractive and technology-laden midsize sedans on the market. Its sharp looks are characterized by a wide stance, Aston Martin-like front fascia, and a sloping roofline in the back. Since 2013, the model has been offered with gas, hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains. If you like the tough look and high-quality interior feel of the Fusion, one of those powertrain should suit your price point and driving needs.
While the handsome exterior design of the Fusion has won nearly universal praise, some say that the cabin design looks boring, Spartan and monochromatic—particularly in black. Others say it has an elegant, understated styling and a generous deployment of premium materials. The cabin is unpretentious.
With a combined city/highway EPA-certified rating of 88 MPGe, the Ford Fusion Energi is a very efficient full-size sedan. But so are competing models—such as the Chevrolet Volt, Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid and Toyota Prius Plug-in. Each offers its own balance of hybrid efficiency and electric-only range, but for many Fusion buyers, the deciding factor will be looks.
In that regard, the Fusion’s design provides a compelling alternative to the nerdy shape of the Prius, while its roomy albeit bland interior provides generous space for five passengers—beating the Volt’s “four-and-a-half-seat” configuration. That might make it a toss-up with its closest competitor, the Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid, with a final decision based on the personal tastes of any particular buyer.
With its full-size proportions, and weighing about 4,000 pounds, the Fusion Energi is not a zippy darty little electric car. That’s not its raison d'être. Instead, this plug-in hybrid, when driving in pure electric mode, glides sedately through city streets, providing a compliant and pleasant cruising experience.
Plenty of oomph is available from the 88-kW electric motor, especially for urban routes. Those all-electric miles are zero emissions, smooth, and exceptionally quiet. Noise-cancellation technology helps keep the decibel level to a minimum.
When more power is required, it can be found from Ford’s 2-liter 4-cylinder engine, assisted by the electric motor. When working in combination, the two power sources produce palpable results—a jump in total horsepower output to 188 ponies. There is little rumble or vibration to indicate when the gas engine swings into action—yet power is evident by capable highway on-ramp and passing maneuvers.
By choosing the EV Now mode, you can restrain the use of power from the gasoline engine in favor of all-electric driving for about 19 miles of driving after a full charge. New for 2016, the Energi now gets a standard EcoSelect button that automatically adjusts power usage for maximum efficiency.
The EPA certifies the Fusion Energi to deliver a combined 88 MPGe in EV mode. That’s not bad for a mid-size plug-in hybrid, but it lags behind the Sonata (93 MPGe), Prius Plug-in (95 MPGe), and Volt (106 MPGe). All of these relatively large plug-in hybrid cars are extraordinarily efficient, and the difference between them amounts to a few gallons per year (as well as a number of cheap kilowatt-hours of electricity).
Perhaps the most important metric for understanding the relative efficiency of different plug in hybrids is all-electric range—because staying on battery power is the key to the most efficient driving. The Fusion Energi, according to the EPA, is good for 19 miles of driving purely on its battery pack—and an impressive 550 miles of total range from gas and electrons.
Total driving range is also determined by the level of efficiency after the battery pack is depleted—in other words, the type of repeated long-distance driving by those who commute long distances on a daily basis.
After the pack is drained, the Fusion Energi manages to deliver combined city/highway rating of 38 mpg. That’s good for a vehicle as big and roomy as the Fusion, though slightly behind the Sonata’s 40 mpg. (For reference, the Toyota Prius gets a combined 50 mpg after its battery is depleted, while the Chevy Volt has an official EPA rating 42 mpg, though both are smaller vehicles.)
In our test drives, trips in the Fusion Energi that started all-electric for the first 20 miles or so, but continued on for another 50 or miles, registered around 75 mpg. Over a few days of driving that tallied nearly 230 miles, the vehicle averaged 55 mpg. (As usual, your mileage may vary.)
A complete empty-to-full charge time for the Fusion Energi should be about 2.5 hours with a 240-volt source, and 7 hours from a standard household outlet. There’s a strong argument for saving the money on special EV charging equipment, and managing with a trickle charge from 110 volts.
One of the chief benefits of a plug-in hybrid, versus a pure electric vehicle, is the relatively quick recharge time of its smaller battery pack. Of course, you can't go as far purely on electricity, but if you are able to plug-in at various times of the day to quickly fill up, then you can enjoy many of the benefits of an EV, without having to consider the demands and wait times for charging a larger pack. The Fusion Energi’s battery pack is less than one-third the size of many pure electric cars. At the same time, you will never have range anxiety, because there is a gas engine on board.
The cabin of the Ford Fusion is comfortable and roomy, even in the backseat. Cloth seats are standard on the base Ford Fusion, and eco-friendly cloth with leather trim is available on higher trim levels. At all levels, the quality of materials is considered upscale.
While the no-plug Fusion has a deep spacious trunk—measuring 16 feet—the copious cargo room is unfortunately diminished in the Energi version in order to accommodate the battery pack. This reduces the trunk space to 8.2 cubic feet. The resulting odd dimensions leave room for about two carry-on suitcases and little else.
The 2016 Fusion earned a “top safety pick” designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That is based on “Good” readings—the highest score—in front, side, rear, and roof strength tests. The only test in which the Fusion received an “acceptable” was the “Small Overlap Front Test.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Fusion an overall rating of five stars. It earned five stars in the frontal crash, and four stars respectively inside crash and rollover evaluations.
The long list of safety features in the Fusion they include: driver air bag; passenger air bag; side head air bag; rear head air bag; side air bag; 4-wheel ABS; 4-wheel disc brakes; brake assist; electronic stability control; child safety locks; and traction control.
For 2016, the starting suggested base price for the Ford Fusion Energi dropped $900 from $34,800 to $33,900. Delivery charges add $825 to the sticker. The top trim Fusion Energi Titanium is priced at $37,730.
The entire Fusion Energi lineup is be eligible for a federal tax credit of an estimated $4,007, which will drop the effective price of the base SE Luxury trim Fusion Energi down to the $30,000 range. (Additional perks are available in California and other states.)
No matter how you slice it, the Fusion Energi will be a few thousand dollars more than the top-of-the-line gas-powered Fusion.
Before the discounts, the Fusion Energi is priced within five dollars of the Chevrolet Volt. But it’s the after-discount price that makes the Volt seem like a bargain. The Volt gets a bigger $7,500 federal tax credit thanks to its larger battery pack, and can be bought for an effective price of less than $27,000. The Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid starts $1,500 higher, at $35,400, while the Prius Plug-in Hybrid starts out cheaper but only qualifies for a $2,500 tax credit.
Plug-in buyers might also consider the relative cost and benefits of the Fusion Energi versus the slightly cheaper Ford C-Max Energi, a five-seat plug-in hybrid that’s smaller but rides slightly higher than the Fusion Energi.
As of May 2016, Ford's website indicates that a 36-month lease of the Fusion Energi is available for $254 a month, with $3,382 due at signing.
Comparisons to Similar Cars
To summarize the main points of comparison between the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, its style is perhaps the biggest difference from models such as the Chevy Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid and the Ford C-Max wagon-like car. If you are in the market for an affordable athletic well-designed midsize sedan, the only car that really compares is the Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid. The Sonata has a higher price tag, but it also boasts eight more miles of all-electric range on a full charge, slightly better efficiency, and a federal tax credit more than $9,00 higher than the Energi.
If you can live with four fully functional seats rather than five, and you want to push the envelope of all-electric driving in a plug-in hybrid, then the Chevy Volt is much more electric—so it might be your car. Similarly, if cargo space is a premium, and you are less inclined to care about how often the car shifts from electric to gas—focusing instead on overall efficiency–than the Prius with plug (and hatchback) might be the best choice.
Start the process of buying a Fusion Energi by visiting a local dealership, or clicking to the Ford website, where you can request a quote or search inventory.
Ford has been repeatedly criticized for promoting the availability of its plug-in cars, but not supporting its EV efforts at the dealership level. Local dealerships, even in markets where EVs are popular, are often not informed about plug-in cars. Sales staff has not been ready to demonstrate and sell the vehicles. This announcement from Ford about the growth of certified dealers suggest that the company is getting better prepared.
What's involved in the certification process? According to Ford: "Certification means the dealerships have met the automaker’s guidelines for dealers selling electric vehicles—including installation of at least two on-site charging stations (one in the service area and the other located in the customer area) and participation in highly specialized training in the field of electric vehicles."
Ford claims the increase in EV Certified dealers, and nationwide availability for its plug-ins, is a result of "increased demand for the company’s electrified vehicles."