Model: 2013 Fusion Hybrid
Exterior color: Bordeaux Reserve Red
Interior color: Dune Leather
Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine with electric motor
Horsepower: 188 combined
Transmission: continuously variable
Fuel economy: 47 mpg city, 47 mpg highway
Dealer: Mountain View Ford
Price (as tested): $33,440
Like a good-looking spouse who also happens to be an All-American cook, the new Ford Fusion Hybrid gives you the best of two worlds - high style and fuel economy.
Last month, we test drove a conventional 2013 Fusion equipped with the Blue Oval company's cherished Ecoboost (turbocharged) engine. Then last week, Doug Cawood, sales manager at Mountain View Ford downtown, informed us that the first 2013 Fusion Hybrid had hit the city.
The Fusion Hybrid, wrapped in the gorgeous sheet-metal that has the car industry abuzz, returns 47 miles per gallon in both city and highway driving -- balanced numbers heretofore unseen in the midsize segment.
Moreover, the government estimates that the average yearly fuel cost for the Fusion Hybrid will be $1,150; or less than $100 a month. Over five years, Fusion owners will pocket $5,850 in fuel savings compared to the average American driver, the government says.
STYLING AND COMFORT
The Fusion Hybrid may be different under the hood, but it has the same sexy styling as all the new Fusion models. With a grille inspired by Aston Martin and a swept-back design that looks like an arrowhead shot through a ripple of water, the Fusion is a game-changing design -- in much the same way the Ford Taurus moved popular tastes in the segment 20 years ago.
As beautiful as it is on the outside, the cockpit is also one of my favorites. The three-spoke steering wheel is big and beefy -- and leather-clad in our upscale test car. The dash is anchored by a color touch screen that integrates media functions through the excellent Ford MyTouch system.
Our car came with equipment packages that included such upgrades as heated leather seats, a blind-spot monitor, automatic high beams, and a lane-drift alarm.
The real magic in the hybrid is under the hood. A new lithium-ion battery pack replaces the nickel-metal hydride batteries in the first-generation car. The result is better performance and astonishing gas mileage.
Members of the sales staff at Mountain View Ford were quick to point out that at speeds under 60 miles per hour, the Fusion can run completely on battery power. And the car is so quiet you barely notice when the 2.0 liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine kicks in.
On a test drive in downtown Chattanooga, the Fusion soaked up uneven pavement and turned in a whisper-quiet ride that rivals anything on the road.
Far from underpowered, the torque from the electric motor zips the car around in urban settings.
A continuously variable transmission makes the Fusion Hybrid a perfect mountain car, as it will never hunt for gears.
At a starting price of $27,200 the price premium for this sweet piece of high-tech wizardry is tiny.
Our feature-laden test car has a list price of $33,440, and is worth every penny.