2013 Ford Fusion Review and Prices
The 2013 Ford Fusion is the best car for you if you want the all-new version of a popular midsize sedan that’s rooted in European design and pushes the powertrain envelop by offering two turbocharged engines and a pair of hybrids.
The 2013 Ford Fusion introduces Ford’s new global midsize car design and is the first sedan to offer gasoline, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid powertrains, each touted as a fuel-economy leader in its segment. Sculpted new styling, available all-wheel-drive, and tech gizmos such as automatic self-parking are other highlights of the all-new Fusion. It’ll need all the attractions it can muster to compete with redesigned versions of the 2013 Honda Accord, 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, and 2013 Nissan Altima. None of those competitors is likely to offer as broad a choice of engines as the 2013 Fusion, however, and none is apt to rival the 2013 Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, a new model that Ford promotes as the world’s most fuel-efficient midsize car.
Should you wait for the 2013 Ford Fusion or buy a 2012 Ford Fusion? Wait for the 2013 Fusion if you admire the way Ford has recently Americanized other global platforms to create its fine-driving Fiesta subcompact and Focus compact cars and even the all-new 2013 Escape crossover SUV. Waiting for the 2013 Fusion would soften the depreciation hit you’d suffer by purchasing the 2012 model at the end of its product cycle. Consider a 2012 Fusion, however, if you like the outgoing sedan’s squared-off styling, want a V-6 engine – the 2013 is an all-four-cylinder lineup -- and can snag a great inventory-clearing deal as the 2012 model-year wanes.
2013 Ford Fusion Changes back to top
Styling: The 2013 Ford Fusion introduces a new generation of Ford midsize cars that will be sold in essentially the same form in multiple world markets. The U.S. edition serves North and South America while its basically identical overseas version, the Ford Mondeo, launches for Asia and Europe during 2013. This is the first time Ford has used a common design for the two cars.
Fusion is Ford’s best-selling car in the U.S. and the 2013 edition replaces a design that was introduced for 2006 and revamped for 2010. It remains a five-passenger four-door sedan but it’s longer, taller, and wider than its predecessor. The most important dimensional change is a wheelbase stretched by a significant 4.8 inches, to 112.2 inches, making it one of the longest such spans in the midsize class. Wheelbase – the distance between the front and rear axles – is a critical dimension because it helps determine how much passenger space a vehicle has and because longer wheelbases signal a more stable and athletic stance on the road.
The 2013 Fusion’s styling is curvier than the blocky outgoing model. It follows Ford’s “Kinetic” global-design theme also evident in the Fiesta and Focus. It’s characterized by a wide lower front air dam and a grille flanked by narrow headlamps that sweep gracefully into muscular front fenders. The roof pillars are thinner to suggest a sense of lightness and LED taillamps and polished exhaust tips dress up the rump.
The 2013 Fusion’s interior treads a similar design path and replaces the outgoing car’s angular forms with fresher curves and arcs. A high center console houses the gearshift lever and contributes to a dual-cockpit feel. The rounded new dashboard is designed to showcase the automaker’s MyFord Touch operating system developed in conjunction with Sony. It replaces conventional displays, buttons, and dials with programmable LCD readouts on the instrument panel and a large touch-screen and control “touch points” at the center of the dashboard. Cabin panels are more extensively covered in soft-touch materials
The 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid have subtle exterior touches to distinguish them visually from other Fusions and also to maximize aerodynamic efficiency in the name of fuel savings. Inside, the Hybird and Energi have a specific electronic instrument cluster with the latest version of Ford’s EcoGuide, which helps drivers maximize fuel economy though a series of novel interactive displays.
The 2013 Ford Fusion lineup repeats base S and midlevel SE model designations but the uplevel SE badge is replaced by the Titanium tag. And while Ford may tailor a version of the 2013 Fusion to replicate the performance-oriented Fusion Sport model, the Sport label is absent from the initial iteration of the 2013 lineup. The 2013 Fusion Hybrid and 2013 Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid models essentially replicate the SE trim level.
Mechanical: With the 2013 Fusion, Ford aims to bring to its American buyers the same world-class road manners that overseas owners of the Mondeo have long enjoyed. And with an engine lineup that encompasses five choices, including two advanced turbocharged fours and a pair of high-tech hybrids, it hopes to secure fuel-economy leadership in America’s most popular car class.
Joining a trend in the midsize segment, the 2013 Fusion will not offer a V-6 engine. The 2012 Fusion was available with two V-6s. The movement away from sixes in favor of four-cylinder engines that deliver similar performance with better fuel economy was sparked by the redesigned 2011 Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. The 2013 Fusion and the redesigned 2013 Malibu jump on the bandwagon while competitors such as the Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat and, likely the redesigned 2013 Accord, continue to offer both fours and sixes.
The only 2013 Fusion engine repeating from the 2012 model is a 2.5-liter that’s rated at 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque (think of torque as the force most responsible for acceleration, horsepower as the energy that sustains momentum). This engine is offered only with a six-speed automatic transmission.
New to the Fusion and expected to power the majority of 2013 models is a 1.6-liter from Ford’s EcoBoost family of direct-fuel-injected turbocharged engines. It’s rated at 179 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. It too uses the six-speed automatic transmission but is the only 2013 Fusion engine also offered with a six-speed manual transmission. With automatic transmission, the EcoBoost 1.6 gets a stop-start system that automatically shuts off the engine when the car is stopped and restarts it as the driver releases the brake pedal. Ford says the system reduces fuel consumption and exhaust emissions by some 3.5 percent.
Ford is pitching a 2.0-liter EcoBoost four as the 2013 Fusion’s performance engine option. It’s rated at 237 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. By comparison, the 2012 Fusion’s most powerful engines were V-6s of 240 and 263 horsepower and 223 and 249 pound-feet of torque. The 2013 Fusion’s EcoBoost 2.0 uses a six-speed automatic transmission with Ford’s SelectShift feature that provides steering-wheel shift paddles that give the driver manual-type gear control. Fusions with this engine also are the only ones to offer all-wheel drive as an any-weather traction-enhancing alternative to the standard front-wheel drive.
Like the outgoing Fusion Hybrid, the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid teams a four-cylinder gas engine with a battery-powered electric motor and can tap either or both at the same time to maximize fuel economy. The 2013 Fusion Hybrid, however, uses a 2.0-liter engine instead of a 2.5-liter and has lithium-ion batteries instead of nickel-metal hydride batteries. The new engine uses a more efficient combustion strategy known as the Atkinson cycle. And the lithium-ion batteries are lighter and generate more power than the outgoing model’s nickel-metal hydride batteries. Net output for the 2013 system is 185 horsepower compared with the outgoing hybrid’s 191 (Ford doesn’t release a torque rating). Ford claims across-the-board improvements in efficiency, including a maximum speed of 62 mph under electric-only power, versus 47 mph for the 2012 Fusion Hybrid. Ford says the 2013 Fusion Hybrid delivers better fuel economy than any other competing midsize hybrid.
New to the lineup, the 2013 Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid model uses essentially the same powertrain as the Fusion Hybrid but adds the ability to plug into a household or commercial-type electrical outlet. Taking a portion of the battery charge from the power grid reduces reliance on the gas engine and extends the car’s electric-only range. Ford anticipates the Fusion Energi will earn an EPA rating of 100 “MPGe,” or miles-per-gallon equivalent, a metric that seeks to reconcile the consumption of gasoline and electricity in electrified vehicles. Both the 2013 Fusion Hybrid and the Fusion Energi will use a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which delivers power seamlessly rather than through a set array of gear ratios.
Ford’s decision to use a common platform for the Fusion and Mondeo means they share Euro-tuned underpinnings that incorporate a new multilink rear suspension that the automaker claims is comparable to designs found in Audis and BMWs. Like the vast majority of midsize cars, the 2013 Ford Fusion remains based on a front-wheel drive design. Front-wheel drive places the engine and transmission in the nose of the car to help maximize interior room compared to a rear-wheel-drive model. It also improves traction on slippery surfaces by placing more weight directly over the wheels that drive the car.
The 2013 Fusion, however, is among the few midsize cars also available with all-wheel-drive (AWD). Within this competitive set, AWD is standard on the Subaru Legacy and optional on the Suzuki Kazashi. On the 2013 Fusion, it’s offered exclusively on versions with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine and continues to give the Fusion a marketing advantage in snowy regions of the country. This system normally channels 100 percent of the engine’s power to the front wheels and automatically adjusts it front-to-rear as needed to negate tire slip. All 2013 Fusions retain electric power steering that eliminates the performance- and fuel-economy-reducing drag of a belt-driven hydraulic steering pump.
Features: The 2013 Ford Fusion is available with an impressive array of standard and optional high-tech infotainment and safety features that help set it apart from most mid-priced midsize cars. Ford touts an “unprecedented portfolio of driver assistance and convenience technologies based on sensors, cameras, and radar that enable the car to see and respond.” Among Fusion’s new gizmos are one that’ll automatically keep it in its proper highway lane and one that backs the car into a parallel parking space.
Technologies new to the car include Ford’s Lane Keeping System, which uses a small forward-facing camera that monitors highway lane lines and matches them against the car’s path. If the two don’t match – if the driver’s drowsy or erratic, for example – it triggers audio and visual alerts. If no correction is made it vibrates the steering wheel and then will actually apply pressure on the steering wheel to help bring the Fusion back into proper lane position.
Adaptive cruise control is available to automatically adjust vehicle speed to maintain a predetermined distance from traffic ahead. It works with a collision-mitigation strategy that warns of an impending collision and then applies the brakes if the driver doesn’t react. Also newly available is Ford’s Active Park Assist system, which uses onboard cameras and sensors to automatically identify a suitable parallel parking space and steer the Fusion into it while the driver merely controls the speed.
The 2013 Fusion also can be ordered with Ford’s Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert (BLIS) that warns of vehicles outside the driver’s field of vision during lane changes or when backing out of a parking space or garage. Also on the safety front, Fusion again comes standard with the usual compliment of torso- and head-protecting side airbags for all outboard positions but the 2013 model adds underdash knee airbags for driver and front passenger.
Through its Sync system, developed with Microsoft, Ford was among the first carmakers to make hands-free control of infotainment systems widely available on even its lower priced models. The 2013 Fusion is available with the latest version of Sync, which provides real-time traffic and weather information, includes hard-drive storage for digital media files, and affords full connectivity with iPods and mobile phones. It’s enhanced with Ford’s AppLink feature that allows motorists to play music from the Pandora Internet radio service via their smartphones and have short text messages read aloud by a synthesized voice.
Sync can be expanded by the MyFord Touch operating system, which extends the range of features governed by voice control and also replaces a host of conventional dashboard knobs and buttons with an interactive touchscreen display. MyFord Touch debuted on some 2012 Ford and Lincoln models and has proved confounding and distracting for some users. In fact, MyFord Touch has been blamed for lowering Ford’s scores in third-party surveys of customer satisfaction and Ford has begun to simplify some of its functions and place greater emphasis on explaining the system to users.
Standard features on all 2013 Ford Fusion models include expected amenities such as air conditioning, basic cruise control, and power doors, locks, and windows. Also returning are such segment-firsts as Ford’s Easy Fuel system, which eliminates the gas-filler cap, and the automaker’s MyKey system, which lets the owner encourage seatbelt use by younger drivers via limits on top speed and audio-system volume. Heated front seats, leather upholstery, rain-sensing automatic windshield wipers, a power moonroof, a rear-mounted backup camera for easier and safer backing, and a multi-color ambient lighting system also are on the 2013 Fusion’s roster of features.
2013 Ford Fusion Prices back to top
Prices for the 2013 Ford Fusion were not released in time for this review. Ford in past years has positioned the Fusion as a value leader in its class, with prices tracking $1,000-$2,000 less than those of many competitors. Whether it’ll be able to do so again is uncertain, but it’s safe to say a sizeable price increase over model-year 2012 levels is probably not in the cards, given the cutthroat competition in the midsize-car segment.
We’ll estimate a 2013 Ford Fusion base-price range of around $21,000-$31,000 for the non-hybrid models. (Estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Ford’s fee for the 2012 Fusion was $795.)
Swapping the six-speed automatic transmission for the six-speed manual on a 2013 Fusion with the EcoBoost 2.0-liter should run about $900. That engine itself should be a roughly $1,000 upgrade over the 1.6-liter EcoBoost. And AWD should add about $2,000.
Estimated base price for the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid is $30,000, while the 2013 Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid probably will start around $32,500.
2013 Ford Fusion Fuel Economy back to top
EPA gas-mileage estimates for the 2013 Ford Fusion weren’t available in time for this review but Ford is touting best-in segment fuel economy for virtually every iteration of its all-new midsize sedan.
The 2013 Fusion with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine will likely exceed fuel-economy ratings for the 2012 model with the same basic engine; expect something like 24/35 mpg city/highway and 27 mpg combined city/highway.
Ford says it anticipates the 1.6-liter EcoBoost will deliver best-in-class four-cylinder non-hybrid fuel efficiency of 26/37 mpg; the automaker did not project a combined city/highway rating. With the more powerful 2.0-liter EcoBoost, we estimate a 2013 Fusion fuel-economy rating of 23/31 mpg city/highway with front wheel drive and 21/29 with AWD.
Many automakers recommend and sometimes require premium-octane gas for their turbocharged engines. Complete specifications were unavailable in time for this review but Ford sources say the carmaker does not plan to recommend premium-octane gas for the similar four-cylinder EcoBoost engines used in its 2013 Escape compact crossover SUV, suggesting all 2013 Fusions will be tuned to run on less expensive regular-octane gas.
Thanks in large degree to its more efficient and smaller-displacement gas engine and the transition to lithium-ion batteries, Ford projects a fuel-economy rating of 47/44 mpg city/highway for the 2013 Fusion Hybrid. By comparison, the 2012 Fusion Hybrid was rated at 41/36 mpg city/highway and 39 mpg combined. Against other hybrid midsize sedans, Ford says the 2013 Fusion Hybrid’s ratings beat the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid by 4 mpg in the city and 5 mpg on the highway and will also best those of the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.
Ford says the 2013 Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid is designed to be the most fuel-efficient midsize car in the world. The automaker says the Fusion Energi’s 100 MPGe is 8 MPGe more than the EPA rating for Chevrolet Volt, an extended-range-electric compact car, and 13 MPGe more than the projected efficiency of Toyota’s new plug-in variant of its celebrated Prius hybrid.
2013 Ford Fusion Release Date back to top
The 2013 Ford Fusion gas and Hybrid models will go on sale in the second quarter of 2012 while the 2013 Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid will be available in autumn 2012.
What's next for the 2013 Ford Fusion back to top
After undergoing this model-year 2013 redesign the Fusion should continue with only minor updates until a midcycle freshening that will tweak the styling and perhaps add a few powertrain revisions. This is not likely to happen until model year 2016 at the earliest.
In the meantime Fusion will likely receive only incremental updates including new color choices and wheel designs, and added features. Expect to see more in the way of connectivity with smartphones and other devices, and perhaps even full in-dash Internet access.
As with the outgoing generation, Fusion will share its underskin engineering with the redesigned 2013 MKZ midsize car from Ford’s premium Lincoln division. The outgoing MKZ wore a Lincoln grille and some other identifying exterior and interior details, but was not substantively different from its less expensive Fusion counterpart. However, Ford’s latest Lincoln marketing plans call for the 2013 MKZ to use far different styling, features, cabin materials, even chassis tuning, to establish a premium identity further apart from its more prosaic Fusion sibling.
2013 Ford Fusion Competition back to top
Chevrolet Malibu: Also fully redesigned for model-year 2013, the midsize Malibu sedan is smaller on the outside than the popular 2008-2012 Malibu, but no less roomy inside. It shares its platform and powertrains with the Buick Regal. Two four-cylinder engines are offered, a 2.5-liter with 190 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque and preliminary fuel-economy ratings of 22/33 mpg city/highway, 25 mpg combined. Also available is the Malibu Eco model with GM’s eAssist system. This adds a small electric motor, self-charging battery pack, and automatic start-stop function to help boost acceleration and fuel economy at only a nominal price increase. The Malibu Eco uses a 2.4-liter engine, has 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque, and rates a preliminary 26/38/31 mpg. The 2013 Malibu doesn’t include as many new-age tricks as the 2013 Fusion but it’s no tech slouch, with collision and lane-departure warning systems, a backup camera, and GM’s MyLink connectivity system available and 10 airbags standard. The Eco model bows first and has a base price of just under $26,000.
Honda Accord: Another midsize-class stalwart that’s fully redesigned for 2013, the new Accord shouldn’t be too radical a departure from the outgoing model. It’ll continue to offer a roomy and sedan with relatively conservative styling and a curvier coupe that provides slightly sportier road manners than the competition. A four-cylinder engine should remain standard, with 2.0 and 2.5-liter versions possibly available. A V-6 probably will remain in the lineup. Reports suggest a plug-in hybrid version is being developed for the next-generation Accord that should register outstanding fuel-economy ratings.
Toyota Camry: America’s best-selling car beat Fusion, Malibu, Accord, and Altima to market with an all new design for model-year 2012. The latest Camry reruns its basic front-wheel-drive, four-door-sedan formula, and keeps its exterior dimensions intact. But new styling aims for a more youthful feel and engineers have given it more engaging road manners to go along with its reputation for dependability and resale value. Expect the 2013 Camry engine lineup to reprise a four-cylinder with 178 horsepower and ratings of 25/35 mpg city/highway, 28 combined, a V-6 with 268 horsepower and 21/30/25 mpg, and a four-cylinder gas-electric hybrid with 200 horsepower and 43/39/41 mpg. Estimated 2013 Camry base prices for four-cylinder models should start around $23,000, the V-6s around $27,900, and the Hybrid around $26,900. In Camry’s near future is a plug-in hybrid addition to the lineup with technology sourced by electric carmaker Tesla in which Toyota has a financial stake.
UPDATED BY CHUCK GIAMETTA