Shedding stereotypes of the econo-box, the 2013 Ford Fusion employs refined, sophisticated design, good enough to win the EyesOn Design award for best production car, an accolade bestowed during the Detroit show by a panel of judges that's a veritable who's-who of the car design biz.
Fusion chief designer Darrell Behmer and his team aimed to amplify a sporty look with a wider grille, wraparound headlamps and flowing, connected lines. The interior design team went for a clean and simple layout, with elements borrowed from watch design and modern architecture.
Competing in a crowded midsize market, the 2013 Ford Fusion will continue to go up against old standbys such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. But more recent players in the game such as the Hyundai Sonata and Chevrolet Malibu are also gaining ground in a segment once dominated by uninspired, Japanese-built appliances.
As notable as its looks, the 2013 Fusion will come in a variety of powertrains, from gasoline to hybrid to plugin. The base engine will be the same naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder currently used in the outgoing generation, good for 170 horsepower. Two turbocharged power plants will be optional: a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine that will make 179 hp with early fuel economy estimates of 26 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway, or a 2.0-liter EcoBoost motor that makes 237 hp and 250 pound-feet of torque. The latter, designed to be a sportier version, will be outfitted with a rear-biased all-wheel drive system.
A gas-electric hybrid version of the 2013 Ford Fusion will also be available, which will bundle the 2.0-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack for an estimated fuel economy rating of 47 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway.
A plug-in hybrid, dubbed the Fusion Energi, will also use the 2.0-liter engine and electric motor for 185 combined hp and more that Ford reps say will beat the Chevrolet Volt of the forthcoming Prius Hybrid in terms of fuel efficiency.
Safety and technology advances abound in the Fusion. Electric-assist power steering comes standard, and other options include a lane departure warning system, adaptive cruise control and active park assist. The 2013 Fusion also uses the latest generation of MyFord Touch, with a myriad of voice-activated functions and infotainment options.
Pricing hasn't been announced, but expect the base 2013 Ford Fusion to start in the low $20,000s. Judging by its competitors, we figure the Energi plug-in hybrid model could start upwards of $30,000. Expect the new Fusion to hit dealerships this fall.