2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid Tech Drive: An Eco-Friendly Ride with a Geeky Side
The conventional wisdom about hybrid vehicles is that they are long on gas mileage and short on good looks. But for its 2013 Fusion Hybrid, Ford seems to have plugged its ears and ignored that wisdom. The Fusion Hybrid isn’t just a pretty face, though. From its MyFord Touch infotainment system to its hotspot functionality, this third generation Fusion adds some much needed fun to the hybrid equation. Throw in Ford’s SmartGuage EcoGuide and Lane Keeping System, and the 2013 Fusion Hybrid (starting at $27,200) makes hybrids look down right sexy.
Let’s get one thing straight: the 2013 Ford Fusion is the most gorgeous mid-sized sedan on the road. From its slotted Austin Martin-inspired grill and raked headlights to the repeated hexagonal patterns that line its flank, the Fusion is a stunning vehicle in a segment that’s better known for its ability to ferry groceries and kids than looking good.
The 2013 Fusion isn’t only sexier than its predecessor, it’s bigger too. Ford has stretched the vehicle’s wheelbase giving drivers and passengers more legroom. In addition to its increased interior space, the Fusion just feels like a more luxurious vehicle. While seated behind the wheel, you get the sense that you’re at the helm of a car that was created with an eye toward quality. The cabin is now lined with soft-touch materials rather than the hard plastics found on the first generation Fusion.
A new cubby hole, with rubberized padding and adjacent power port, situated below the Fusion’s HVAC controls, is perfect for storing your smartphone. Unfortunately, with the shifter positioned directly behind the cubby, some drivers may have trouble maneuvering their hands to grab their phone.
Ford’s MyFord Touch infotainment and telematics system is available as an optional add-on to the Fusion. The system runs the latest version of the MyFord Touch software, introduced earlier this year. Ford was initially lambasted for the system's sluggishness and confusing interface, but this latest version, which is available in the Ford Taurus and Flex, proved considerably faster and easier to navigate.
The system features an 8-inch touchscreen located in the Fusion’s center console and two 4.2-inch digital displays on either side of the speedometer in the instrument cluster. The MyFord Touch home screen is broken up into four color-coded sections including Phone, Navigation, Entertainment and Climate, each of which is accessible by tapping one of the screen’s four corners. From the home screen, you can view basic information such as the name of the phone you have connected, the song you are listening to, your current location and climate settings.
From the Phone section you can connect your smartphone to the Fusion via Bluetooth to call contacts and listen to text messages either using the touchscreen or voice commands. Navigation gives you the ability to view area maps, get directions and search for nearby POIs. The Entertainment section provides drivers with quick access to the Fusion's audio options including the AM/ FM radio, SirusXM, MP3s or songs stored on their smartphone, among others. Climate provides redundant controls for the Fusion’s HVAC system, which can also be adjusted via capacitive buttons located just below the display.
In addition to the touchscreen, drivers can control the MyFord Touch system via two directional pads located on either side of the Fusion’s steering wheel. The pad on the left side of the wheel gives you quick access to Fusion’s Phone, Navigation, Entertainment and Climate settings, while the pad on the right side allows you to navigate the Fusion’s SmartGauge with EcoGuide, more on that in a bit.
Perhaps the most impressive feature included with MyFord Touch is the ability to turn your car into one big Wi-Fi hotspot, using your phone's 3G or 4G connection. We were able to connect our phone in just a few seconds by accessing the Wi-Fi Settings page via the MyFord Touch Settings menu.
From here you can connect the Fusion to an available internet connection and activate its Gateway (Access Point) Mode to begin pushing out a Wi-Fi signal. Although, we're not sure why you would rather use the car's hotspot function rather than your phone's. In fact, you need to enable your phone's hotspot in order to even connect it to the Fusion's hotspot function.
The aforementioned SmartGauge with EcoGuide is a display located to the left of the Fusion Hybrid’s speedometer that provides drivers with a wide range of information about how their driving habits impact the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. The feature provides drivers with four interchangeable information screens including Inform, Enlighten, Engage and Empower.
The Inform setting offers drivers data on their Fusion’s fuel level and battery charge, lifetime and average fuel economy and will display an “EV” when the vehicle is running on electric power. Enlighten provides live fuel and battery usage information and lets drivers know when they are using both the engine and battery for power. The Engage setting shows total engine and battery output, while Empower tacks on the power going to the Fusion Hybrid’s wheels and accessory consumption.
We found ourselves using the Engage setting the most since it provided us with a real-time look view of when we were running on battery power and when we switched over to the Fusion Hybrid’s gas engine. Ford has also included its trademark Efficiency Leaves, which spread and grow as your fuel efficiency increases. Hammer the throttle and the leaves will shrink down and nearly disappear.
Ford has packed the Fusion Hybrid with two new technologies that allow the car to get an estimated 47 miles per gallon in the city and 47 miles per gallon on the highway, EV+ Mode and ECO Cruise. When EV+ Mode is activated, via the SmartGauge settings menu, the Fusion can detect when you are approaching your home and automatically switch over to electric-only mode.
The car does this by learning your driving patterns over a two to four week period. Once it understands your usual routes it will automatically activate EV+ Mode at a predetermined distance from your home and run on electric power the rest of the way. You can reset EV+ Mode by selecting Lifetime Summary Reset in the Settings menu.
The Fusion’s other new feature is its slick ECO Cruise mode. The technology essentially limits the Fusion’s acceleration speed while in cruise control, helping to conserve fuel. For example, when a car is traveling down the highway and comes up to a steep incline, it will naturally begin losing speed. To compensate, the car’s cruise control will hammer the throttle to regain its set cruising speed.
With the ECO Cruise, however, the Fusion will drop below its set cruising speed and slowly apply the throttle, thereby saving fuel. If you don’t want to use ECO Cruise, you can switch it off through the Fusion’s SmartGuage settings menu.
In addition to MyFord Touch and its electric drive mode, the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid also includes a slew of safety technologies that help keep your on the road and out of trouble. In addition to a standard rearview camera, and Ford’s Adaptive Cruise Control, Active Park Assist and Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) features, the Fusion comes with the automaker's new Lane Keeping System.
The Lane Keeping System uses a camera located behind the Fusion’s rearview mirror to scan for lane markings in the road in order to determine if you are keeping within your lane. The system has two settings: the first will cause the steering wheel to vibrate when you are moving out of your lane, much like similar systems found in Cadillac and Mercedes vehicles, while the second setting will automatically steer your car back into the proper lane.
We tried the Lane Keeping System during our drive and were impressed with how well it managed to detect lane markings, and the ease with which it moved our Fusion back into the proper lane. When the system detects lane markings, an icon with a car between two lines will appear to the left of the Fusion’s speedometer. Travel across the left lane marker without turning on your left turn signal and the line to the left of the car icon will flash and the Lane Keeping System will either vibrate the wheel or use the Fusion’s electronic steering assist to turn the wheel ever so slightly and bring you back into your lane.
We tested the system by allowing our Fusion to momentarily drift into an adjacent lane on New York’s West Side Highway. As we crossed over the left lane marker without our turn signal on, the Fusion immediately reacted and pulled turned the wheel to the right, bringing us back into our lane.
One of the biggest complaints drivers have with hybrids is the telltale jolt they feel when the vehicle transitions from running on electric power to using its gasoline engine. With the Ford Fusion Hybrid, however, that shouldn’t be a problem.
During our drive around midtown Manhattan, the Fusion repeatedly switched from electric to gasoline power and at no time could we feel the jerk that other hybrids suffer from. The only indication that we were running on a different power source was when we switched from battery power to gas power and we could hear the engine rev up, something that.
It’s difficult to truly gauge a car’s handling capabilities when you’re stuck in bumper to bumper traffic, but from the little amount of spirited driving we could get out of our time with the Fusion, we found it to be planted and more than capable of handling the rutted carriage routes that pass for roads in Manhattan. Our one gripe was that the car did feel a bit heavy, more than likely a result of the added weight from its battery pack.
With the 2013 Fusion Hybrid, Ford has managed to take a mid-sized eco-friendly car and make it worth drooling over. Put this car, with its striking good looks and gobs of techno-wizardry in your driveway and you’ll be the envy of your neighborhood. But the real win here comes by way of the Fusion Hybrid’s insane 47 city, 47 hwy mpg rating. With the 2013 Fusion Hybrid, Ford has proven that an environmentally-friendly family hauler can be both sexy and smart.
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