Review: Ford Fusion Hybrid

The new Ford Fusion Hybrid isn’t shaped like an almond. It doesn’t have badges shouting “hybrid” from every surface. And it won’t make you sacrifice fun for fuel efficiency. That’s what makes it so great.

Of course, fuel economy is the first thing you think when you think hybrids, and the Fusion is a first-rate miser. The EPA says it’s good for 39 mpg (combined city and highway), and we averaged 36.6 during a week of daily driving. The gas gauge barely budged despite hellish commutes, occasional lead-footed sprints and wanton use of the A/C. You’ve got to really try hard to get lousy mileage in this car.

Ford scored a direct hit on the Camry Hybrid, topping the Toyota by 5 mpg, and almost took down the 41-mpg Honda Insight. But as Ford was shooting for fuel efficiency, it didn’t forget a car should be fun to drive and a joy to use. On that score, the Fusion excels. It combines excellent fit and finish with smooth driving dynamics in a handsome mid-size sedan that also happens to get excellent mileage.

Even the bare-bones Fusion Hybrid is decked out with features like stability and traction control, six airbags and power everything, including a six-way adjustable driver’s seat. It’s a car you could live with, without ticking off options. Ford sent us one loaded with optional electronic nannies. The blind-spot detection system flashes a small yellow light when someone’s over your shoulder. It’s reassuring, especially in heavy traffic. The rear-view camera makes backing up a breeze. Visibility out of the car is good enough that youdon’t need the camera, but we loved having it.

The Fusion Hybrid is more than a great car. It is an example for others to follow. Hybrids will become increasingly common as automakers strive to meet the government’s tough new fuel efficiency standards. If those cars are to truly catch on, they can’t be any different than cars consumers already know and love. Ford has proven they don’t have to be.

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