Ford's Fusion has been a moderate success for the company in the mid-size sedan category. While the Fusion doesn't have the sales numbers to put it toe-to-toe with the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Nissan Altima, the vehicle is nonetheless a competent entry in one of the most fiercely contested auto segments in North America.
Now that the Fusion has been on the market for a few years, Ford is ready to give the vehicle a makeover. Stylistically, the vehicle received new front and rear fascias, although the only press shot provided by Ford is of the vehicle's dramatic new front.
The new front end styling seems to merge the current three-bar grill prominent with Ford's current North American styling theme with the more organic shapes found on the European market Mondeo, Ka, and Fiesta (as evidenced by the fog lamp shapes and lower air dam). The hood also features a prominent "power bulge" to accentuate the changes under hood.
When it comes to the powertrain, Ford is introducing a new 175 HP 2.5-liter inline-4 engine -- also available in the all-new Mazda6 and upcoming second generation Mazda3 -- which replaces the old 2.3 liter engine. Ford also massaged the 3.0-liter V6 to produce 240 HP (up 19HP from before). The engine is also capable of running on E85.
For those that crave even more power, the corporate 3.5-liter V6 engine is also available with 263 HP on tap. The 3.5-liter V6 is also used in the Ford Edge and Ford Flex crossovers.
All three of the above engines will be paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The most interesting news about the new Fusion, however, is that a new hybrid version of the vehicle is in the works. The new Fusion Hybrid will use the 2.5-liter inline-4 and a heavily revamped version of the hybrid system used in the current Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner. Ford managed to reduce the number of cells used in the battery pack by 20 percent while at the same time boosted the power output by each individual cell by 20 percent.
The new NiMH battery pack is now 30 percent smaller than the one featured in the Escape/Mariner Hybrids and weighs 23 percent less. The reduced dimensions and weight also means that the battery pack no longer requires its own A/C unit to stay cool which also saves weight.
Ford boosted the power generated by the electric motor from 70 kW to 93 kW, while generator output rose from 45 kW to 70 kW. As a result, the new Fusion Hybrid can now reach speed of up to 47 MPH on battery power alone -- this is up from 24 MPH on the Escape/Mariner Hybrids.
Best of all, the significant improvements to the hybrid powertrain will translate into big mileage gains for drivers. Ford says that the Fusion Hybrid will achieve 5 MPG better EPA ratings in the city than the Toyota Camry Hybrid (EPA rated 33 MPG city).
Ford has high hopes for its reinvigorated midsize offering, and the Fusion Hybrid most certainly will be leading its efforts.