2013 Ford Fusion Energi SE

If sharing is caring, the folks at Ford care about the Fusion Energi. They started caring by sharing the same powertrain that motivates the C-MAX Energi: a 2.0L Atkinson-cycle I-4 that makes 141 hp @ 6000 rpm and 129 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm. Matched with a 35 kW, 47 hp permanent magnet AC synchronous motor, system output is 188 hp with a peak of 195 in charge depletion mode. It also shares the eCVT transmission, regenerative braking and front-wheel drive configuration of the C-MAX models.

If sharing is caring, the folks at Ford care about the Fusion Energi.

I always wonder how these plug-ins get treated before I drive them. When I was given the Fusion Energi, it had a preposterously low fuel mileage average of about 29.5 mpg. With an EPA rated 44 city/ 41 highway mpg, how is that even possible? Do they ever get plugged-in? Other than the ramps to the higher floors of the Ford dealership in Manhattan, there are no mountains to climb. I didn’t notice a trailer hitch, so they can’t be towing with it. In my hands, even attempting to waste gas I couldn’t underachieve by that much. I drove the Fusion home across North Jersey at prevailing traffic speeds (read: faster than EPA guidelines recommend) and that average came up to 32.5 mpg. Religiously plugging-in generates good numbers.

2013 Ford Fusion Energi SE

Many trips shorter than ten miles returned insane FE figures in the triple digit range, some higher than the claimed 108 city/92 hwy/100 MPGe.

Many trips shorter than ten miles returned insane FE figures in the triple digit range, some higher than the claimed 108 city/92 hwy/100 MPGe. I drove a carload of people around the rural back roads of my county for over 45 miles and maintained an average mpg of 53+, and on the trip to Connecticut to meet Rich, our photographer, I held over 45 mpg after the full round trip of over 400 miles, an hour of which was spent on a 5 mile stretch of the Cross Bronx Expressway. That was with the AC on for at least most of the trip and not even trying to hypermile. I tend to use smoother throttle inputs and don’t lane dive to make progress, so maybe I’m atypical of the automotive press drivers, or just more responsible in general.

If your drives are weighted to the across town and back category, the plug-in hybrid will pay off in spades for you. A full charge and proper brake use can get you possibly twenty miles or more before engaging the gas tank (my best was 24). A full charge in my area would cost 85 or 90 cents which adds up to a steep savings over time. If you are concerned about greenhouse gases, my power is generated predominantly from nuclear then coal, natural gas, renewables and oil. If you live anyplace that uses more renewable and clean resources, your footprint will be smaller. Even if you are all coal, plug-ins can beat a gas powered car by 30 to 50 percent if driven properly.

The SE level Fusion doesn’t go out of its way to encourage you to push the g-force boundaries since it also shares C-MAX’s handling traits. Namely its tendency to exhibit more body roll in the rear as a side effect of its shared 7.6 kWh Lithium-ion battery perched above the rear suspension. As with the C-MAX, that’s a lot of weight positioned high in the chassis. Once you become accustomed to the weight transfer you can have some fun, but if handling prowess is one of your main concerns, opt for the Energi Titanium package. Its sportier suspension will generate more smiles per mile per gallon.

Its sportier suspension will generate more smiles per mile per gallon.

2013 Ford Fusion Energi SE

The extra hip room afforded the Fusion over the C-Max will allow comfortable three across seating, even if they have extra hips.

Another aspect it shares with C-MAX is the reduced utility of the nearly 8 cubic foot battery. Unlike the C-MAX with its tall wagon body style, the sedan profile loses half of the available trunk space. It falls from 16 cu. ft. to 8.1. OK, its actually just under half, but unless you spend an inordinate amount of time transporting empty file folders or small town telephone books, the space atop the battery stack is virtually useless. Once you’ve squeezed your one large rectangular laundry basket into the trunk, with just enough space left for a few bottles of detergent and softener, you can fold the rear seat backs forward to squeeze three more across them. You wont have to squeeze your passengers in there, though. The extra hip room afforded the Fusion over the C-MAX will allow comfortable three across seating, even if they have extra hips.

Other than those comments and the specific 17 inch rims it shares with all of Ford’s electrified vehicles, there isn’t anything to differentiate the Fusion Energi from any other Fusion on the market. In SE guise, it comes equipped with 10-way driver and 4-way passenger powered and heated leather seats, 6 speaker AM/FM/SiriusXM stereo with MP3 and an auxiliary audio jack, six months of satellite radio service, Sync and MyFord Touch, premium floor and trunk mats, dual zone automatic climate control with rear seat floor vents, capless fuel filler, electronic stability control and torque vectoring, numerous air bags and ECO cruise control for starters.

With all that and more for a base price of $38,700 plus $795 destination charge, you get a comfortable package with the major equipment expected in a nice family car. The only checkbox on our Bordeaux Reserve red test car was the $795 navigation system, if you travel anywhere away from the beaten path, this is a must. The grand total price for this Fusion Energi SE was $40,290 before incentives and the usual fast talk disclaimers.

The grand total price for this Fusion Energi SE was $40,290 before incentives and the usual fast talk disclaimers.

2013 Ford Fusion Energi SE

During my week, aside from the occasional voice command misunderstanding, my only point of concern came after an overnight torrential rainstorm. When I got out to the car in the morning, there was a single drop of water on the left seat bolster. I thought maybe the rain had gotten around the door seal, but after looking around I found a water stain on the roof rail headliner inside and above the door frame. I had the car washed the day before at a drive through car wash without any incident, so I can only hazard a guess at the cause, which I won’t do.

A single incident of water intrusion excluded, the Fusion Energi SE works as advertised. Better than advertised in my hands, actually. If you can live with the cargo capacity reduction in exchange for the claimed twenty mile battery range, The Fusion Energi will pay you back if you choose to drive it properly. Like all Fusions it will be a fine car in general and look good on the road.

Better than advertised in my hands, actually.

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