It does feel quite good to be back if I do say so myself. I’ve been away busy with work and just life in general. Today, I’m going to present a review on a car that seems to be rather unloved. I looked around and only found basic snippets.
I needed a rental to go away for the weekend with my new fiancée to look at some potential wedding venues and didn’t want to take the Mirage. Driving the Mirage around Columbus Ohio with the incredibly aggressive drivers that are notorious for being horrible didn’t sound appetizing. So I decided to rent something with a touch more power and space. At the same time though I didn’t want to give up too much fuel economy. In the end, I did really well in that regard.
Enter the 2018 Ford Fusion Hybrid. Yeah I definitely went there. (Full disclaimer and apology ahead of time. For some reason Kinja formatting is cutting off the first word of every sentence so I can’t highlight and bold subsections like I usually do. I don’t know why this is happening but it’s maddening and I’m sorry) With that out of the way I went to my local rental hub that cut me the best deal, and I wanted to see what they had to offer. $66 for the weekend for a mid size seemed pretty good to me.
When we started working it out they offered me 3 vehicles. Vehicle one was a silver Nissan Altima. Vehicle two was a black Toyota Camry 4 cylinder. Vehicle 3 was the white Fusion Hybrid I’d ended up going with. I figured to myself I’d give it a go since I hadn’t really dealt with hybrids before. That’s where the hilarity starts. You see... when you press the start stop button in a Fusion Hybrid absolutely nothing happens except a little green light comes on on the very top of the button. Literally that’s it. Except.... that wasn’t necessarily the case.
The previous renters hadn’t configured the gauge cluster at all apparently because there’s two screens that are able to display all types of info such as battery life, when the electric motor is providing power, and most importantly when you’re an idiot like myself... the tachometer. This car is incredibly confusing at first. You see, if you’re starting the car intially and the heater isn’t cranked up, the electric motor just goes on stand by mode. A little indicator in green says “ready to drive” and you throw the rotary shifter into D and it goes. There’s no noise, there’s absolutely nothing.
Now you’d think to yourself “how do I warm this car up on a cold day” and I wondered the same to myself. Turns out if you kick the defroster on it’ll start the engine immediately. There is an option to turn off “engine start stop” but oddly it seems to do nothing because the hybrid motor takes over during much city driving. Again this is unbelievably odd when you’re a guy like me that comes from straight piped DSMs and you know when your car is idling.
Speaking of that hybrid system, it’s super cool once you get used to it. The power display gauge lights up white when the engine and electric motor are running in unison (according to the help button on the gauge itself) and blue when it’s soley hybrid. According to my research it can go 21 miles on electric power alone in city driving and I’d wager that’s conservative. Anytime you brake it shows power regeneration back to the battery and coasting has the regenerative braking effect as well. Again, it does take a little getting used to if you’re new to it like myself but it does offer some seriously impressive torque through town and of course is completely quiet.
Put your foot down a little more and the gasoline engine comes on pretty smoothly and provides more grunt. It’s hilarious in truth because the electric drive is indeed so quiet that when the little four cylinder mill wakes up it sounds hilariously throaty. I assume this is solely because it’s out of place once you’re accustomed to the silence. It’s still funny and worth noting because nobody else has.
Fuel economy was well beyond what I’d had imagined because I did absolutely zero research when I rented this car. If I’m honest (don’t crucify me please) I always liked the way the new Fusions look and decided why not based on that and the hybrid factor. Anyhow it turns out that it’s rated for 43 and 41 respectively, and I definitely will vouch that it’s doable. I did about 62 miles each way of highway travel and tons of city driving that turned into mixed driving down the distinctly bad I-270. In town it was electric driven much of the time and therefore consuming no fuel. On the highway we were cruising a tad above 70 (lol) and lots of heavy footed driving negotiating the city to get around traffic.
All in all we went 250 miles and returned 45.7 miles per gallon on the nose. So is it fuel efficient? Yes, yes it is. It’s hilarious but it’s not far off of my Mirage. That’s kind of saddening.
So we know that it’s fuel efficient. The question here is simple; is it decent to drive?
Well that’s a loaded question and I’ll explain why. In terms of comfort the Fusion is pretty great. There’s a huge amount of front seat occupancy room to be had, and the seats themselves are quite comfortable. This particular car was an SE (annoyingly without the big infotainment screen but hey it’s a rental) so it had the highly adjustable front seats and led running lights and such. You can really get the seat into a comfy position and feel good about it.
Ride quality was pretty solid too and noise isolation was impressive. Less impressive was handling; I attribute this to the heavy hybrid system. It didn’t handle horribly and anything outhandles my Mirage. It was lacking however as the weight of the vehicle could be easily felt. My quick search shows a weight of 3615 pounds and that’s massive for a front wheel drive car with roughly 188 horsepower. It feels fat, and it is fat.
Acceleration however isn’t bad, it’s rated at roughly an eight second 0-60 dash and it feels slightly quicker. There’s a good amount of torque and the CVT makes the engine feel like it’s always making power. Speaking of which the CVT was pretty good with nothing to report there really. Around town and on highway merging the car felt plucky given the weight, and did well with what it had. There’s no problems I can say about that aspect of this car.
In terms of braking I am sure it was mostly me... but boy are they touchy. I got used to it quick but initially they were pretty sensitive and that may be partially due to the regen thing, I cannot say. Somebody feel free to chime in here on that one. Otherwise they do stop very well and the car felt very safe.
Overall the driving experience is what you’d expect for $27,000 in a mid size. It’s a car based on getting awesome fuel economy and not so much having amazing driving characteristics. Comfort and looks to me were pretty strong, but this is far from an enthusiast choice of car.
To end I guess I’ll say this... If you’re shopping for a Camry or something in those lines, the Fusion is a strong contender that makes a solid case for being bought. The fuel economy and interior are very nice, the comfort is high for the money and I’d wager this will be a reliable car. Would I buy it? No. I would opt for a used Accord turbo and call it a day. If you need a car for the wife and kids, or something to commute long distances while mainting a cost to dollar ratio; the Fusion Hybrid is a fair bet. Just don’t expect cheap thrills.