You may remember how a couple years ago I was told of a Ford Fusion that used a de-tuned ST motor. In that review, I basically said it was the greatest car in the world. Well, that experience taught me that I do not know how to properly review car. Since then, I reformatted my auto reviews. So it is time for the Fusion’s second judgement.
However, this is not the same Ford Fusion. Since the last review, Ford decided to put their basic truck V6 motor into the car to make the most powerful domestic midsize sedan on the market (expect for Lincoln, but no one cares about them). So how did they do?
Full Disclosure: Ford wanted me to test drive one of their new cars so badly they passively advertised a $50 test drive coupon at the auto show and hoped people would walk up and inquire about it. Fortunately for them, I did and they happily obliged. They then asked me to give my email soul to Ford and in exchange I got to go bother their sales staff.
At this point, Ford should just put me on staff, I have made enough money off them where I probably am required to have benefits. Let’s see, I have driven the Focus ST, Fiesta ST, Taurus SHO, and the regular Fusion. I am starting to run out of fun things...
but then Ford introduced the Fusion Sport, an all wheel drive 325 HP sports sedan for the practical person that wants to have a bit of fun. Here are the basic details:
Engine: 2.7L EcoBoost 6-Cylinder, 325HP
Transmission: 6-speed Automatic Transmission, with manual mode
Setting: Suburban shopping district/Interstate, mostly interstate
Rusty brakes from sitting: Present
Overall Test Drive Experience
I have to give a shout-out to the Thoroughbred Ford for their hospitality. They were nice enough to let me look at and drive their only Ford Fusion Sport. Most other dealers tell me to go away, they didn’t the second time. This dealer is located only my way to and from the office, so I have the added benefit of knowing the roads for maximum
hoonage analysis opportunities.
Lets dive into the review. Instead of trying to fit it into a 100% or letter grade, I use a basic 5 point scale that is very subjective:
0 - I hate it
1 - I don’t like it
2 - meh
3 - I like it
4 - This is fantastic
This review looks at 13 different areas and thus it has a maximum of 52 points.
*I am not a professional auto reviewer. I am just a normal person that likes driving cars. One of the major things that differentiates me from a professional auto journalist is that I put on pants when I go to work. This review is subjective and may irritate people.
Exterior - 4
I have always loved the exterior of the Fusion. I find it subtlety aggressive. The lines are crisp and clean. I think it looks fantastic. It is the perfect design to put in a large engine and make a sleeper.
Interior - 2
Just because I gave it a 2 doesn’t mean that the interior is bad. It is nice, but it is not spectacular. It didn’t blow me off my feet. The seats were nice, the interior was well laid out.
Acceleration - 2
There are going to be a lot of borderline ranks and this is one. I nearly gave it a 3, but it didn’t wow me. It was somewhat quick (it got from 0-80 in a decent amount of time), but it didn’t knock me back in my seat. The turbo lag is not bad at all. When you put the pedal down there is just enough lag for your brain to comprehend the incoming launch. Power delivery is not instantaneous, but it is also not delayed enough for you to ask where it is. Delivery is very smooth. It certainly sounds like you are going fast, but it doesn’t look like you are.
Braking - 3
The brakes are nice. Great for everyday use, but add a little more input and they are fine sport brakes. I dove the car into a corner and felt reasonably comfortable at higher speeds.
Ride - 4
I was very impressed with the ride. Being a sports/performance trim, I expected the suspension to be firm. However, the electronic wizardry of the Fusion’s suspension system kept it soft for the gentle daily drive on the city street, but when you start driving it aggressively, the suspension tightens up for excellent handling with little body roll. It doesn’t ride like a Buick/Cadillac, but it also doesn’t ride like a Bronco.
Handling - 3
Piggy backing off the last point the handling was quite good and a lot of it is due to the suspension. However, like in my last review, the steering wheel of the Fusion is quite small. I would really like it to be about an inch bigger in diameter. I felt reasonably comfortable that I could carve some canyon roads, but we don’t have those here.
Gearbox - 2
This one also could have been a 3, but the computer did not like me taking the car to red line and it would intervene. I don’t really like it when I go into manual mode and the computer decides that I am an incompetent idiot and shifts for me, that is why I went into manual mode in the first place. As I said, the car will not let you red line. It auto shifts up at ~5000 rpm. Sometimes, when you are giving it the beans, it will go up 2 gears. Even a VW Passat lets you hold red line for a few seconds before it intervenes.
The gear selector is a rotary shifter on the console. I guess it is what the kids are into these days. It takes a little getting used to (I kept looking for the lever), but overall it is not bad. My biggest complaint with it is that the sport mode is activated by pressing a button in the middle of the shifter, I would much rather have it as another dial selection past “D.”
Audio/Toys - 2
The audio sounded fine. The car is packed with all of the standard features of a top trim car. There are no real features that stand out.
Sound (Engine) - 3
The engine noise is fake. Let’s just get the cat out of the bag now. However, it is fun. Yeah it isn’t real, but it is the same thing as you making V8 noises while flooring your Versa. I cracked a smile while flooring it onto the interstate, so I can’t say I didn’t like it. I do wish it was authentic though.
Dash/Infotainment - 2
Another sticking point I have with Ford sedans in general is the gauges. The speed gauge is nice, but everything else is hard to read on quick glance, especially the digital tachometer, I really don’t like that thing. However, it is not a deal breaker for me.
The infotainment is heavily reliant on a touchscreen interface. The screen is very big and I like that; however, the redundant buttons are very small and poorly laid out. I like buttons for my heating/ac and radio. The design of them on the Fusion are not that great. The buttons are small and there is a lot of empty space below the console that could have been utilized better. Of course this would become more familiar as I drive the car more, but I think it could have been done better.
Visibility - 2
Blind spots seem to be common on newer cars. Since we have such a fascination with running into things and rolling cars over, manufacturers now make A-pillars and side pillars the size of Kyle Busch’s ego. Merging on the highway was a lot more difficult than it should have been. Shoulder check to the left and there is a massive b-pillar. Check to the right through a tiny porthole window. The side view mirror was small, but also probably not aimed properly. The view out the back was actually pretty good. The portals to the outside world were small, but I would be able to use it.
Utility Value - 2
It shares the same practical value as the regular Ford Fusion. Being a performance minded trim, I take that into consideration for this review area that there may not be as much utility value as the normal model. But, since the Fusion Sport is more or less an engine swap, cargo and utility are the same as the base sedan. There is plenty of room to carry people, groceries, and bags. Trunk space is adequate and back seat legroom is surprisingly decent though it looks rather tight. It could definitely be used by the family man as their DD/weekend warrior hybrid.
Value - 1
Sorry the price sucks. The car I drove was listed at $39,500. The Taurus SHO is about $8K more (same dealer) and the main competition, the GLI Jetta, can be had for $13K less (source: local VW dealer). The $39K price point also puts you in the range of many other better equipped cars. Some examples include the Terrain Denali, Outback Touring, Wrangler Sahara, Explorer XLT, Buick Envision, Pacifica Touring L-Plus, and many others. I really cannot justify paying nearly 40k for a Fusion, much like how I could not justify 50k for the SHO I tested in 2013.
However, when these things come on the used market, they may be an excellent option. A nationwide cars.com search shows 8 of the 24 results (4/19/17) at under 30k with an average of 6500 miles on them. The Fusion Sport will depreciate quickly and probably be down toward the used GLI level in 2 to 3 years. However, to be fair, it would help if people would buy them new to accomplish this.
Total - 32/54 - 62%
So you have reviewed a Fiat 124, Fiesta ST, and a Chrysler Pacifica with this ranking system, and you are telling me that the Fusion Sport is worse? I guess so, I cannot question the math. I did say this may irritate people. Does that mean you should avoid the Fusion Sport, no. For me right now, a new Fusion Sport is right out. It is too expensive and it didn’t blow me away with its performance. It simply does not justify its price for me. I like small performance sedans, but at $39K I could get a reasonable equipped Charger R/T and have just as much hoonage with real engine noises. When they appear on the used lots and the prices come down, we can talk. It very well could be the performance bargain on the used market within the next 5 years.
The Fusion Sport did not deliver all it was capable of, in my opinion. During the drive the car felt like it was struggling between being a performance sedan or a daily driver. In comparison, the Fiesta ST had no issues flaunting its sport character and agility. I felt like I had to actively try to slow it down. The Fusion Sport feels like it left a lot of potential on the table. The suspension, handling, and comforts were all there, but the engine performance was not. It didn’t feel like 325HP. It felt like power wasn’t being delivered fully to the road. Some say this is because it only sees max performance on 93 octane, which this definitely didn’t have.
The Fusion Sport could have been a nice mid size rocket ship for the family man. It is not a bad car, I prefer it over all of the trims minus the Titanium (excluding the hybrid and energi), but it is not a $40K car. Come down into the mid 20s and we’ll have a discussion. See you in 2 to 3 years.