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2010 Ford Fusion Sport Review
It doesn’t have the badge, but this might be the SHO’s true spiritual successor
By Michael Banovsky, Oct. 16, 2009

How much sport can you pack into a Ford sedan? Well, in the $19,000 base model Fusion S…not that much. You’ll have to hand Ford $26,180 ($35,299 CAD) for the keys to this, the Fusion Sport V6. Packing a big V6, subtle aerodynamic kit, 18-inch wheels and an enhanced suspension, Ford has something to offer buyers above and beyond the (mostly) drab Japanese and Korean competition.

But, as with most “sporty” cars — are the changes relevant to drivers who make the occasional back-road blast?

FAST FACTS

1. Sport models are offered exclusively with a larger 3.5-liter V6 engine with 263-hp and 249 ft-lbs of torque.

2. Also included is a sports suspension, a subtle aero kit and 18-inch wheels.

3. The Sport model is offered in front-drive or all-wheel drive.

4. Sport models are priced from $26,180 ($35,299 CAD)

POWER CORRUPTS…

Fact: the Fusion Sport comprehensively out-muscles every iteration of the legendary Ford Taurus SHO. We’re talking about the smaller, 1989 to 1999 models — not the 365 horsepower 2010 model. We haven’t forgotten the original SHO was a sports car for “everyman” — one you could sneak into the driveway and not provoke the ire of your wifey. Apparently, Ford hasn’t forgotten that, either.

Only available in Sport trim, the 263 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 — also found in the Lincoln MKS — provides enough punch for a party. That’s 23 more ponies than the standard 3.0-liter V6 model and at 249 ft-lbs of torque it also delivers a 26 ft-lb bump in that department.

If you opt for the front-drive Sport, the front tires will be drunk, smoking, and spinning when you plant your foot to the floor. Pretty it’s not, but how many front-drive cars outside of the ricer set will let you leave 11s from a traffic light?

An extra $2000 will get you all-wheel-drive, making the Sport much closer in spirit to a Subaru Legacy GT. Though it lacks the Subie’s turbocharged thrust or sophisticated symmetrical all-wheel-drive, the Ford feels lighter on its feet and offers plenty of top-end power.

In the fuel economy department, the car delivers reasonably with an 18/27 mpg (city/highway) rating for front drive models and a less impressive 17/24 mpg rating for the AWD version.

INSIDER TRADING

Yes, you can get blue leather seat inserts in the Sport. Or bright red. Each “accent” color combination also puts colored trim pieces on the dashboard to tie everything together. For the record, I love blue leather, but only in Porsches. For some reason, Ford chose a bright Superman blue for the dashboard and seats that looks like it’d stain your teeth like a freeze-pop.

On cars with blue or silver paint, you can have blue accents. Black or red paint, red accents. Black leather is available with every exterior color — thankfully the dark green color option doesn’t give you green leather. That’d be nasty.

Options inside include a “Moon and Tune” package for $895, complete with Sony surround sound stereo with 12 speakers, in-dash 6-disc CD changer, and a sunroof. Otherwise, for $3,000 you can take the fully-loaded road and get the “Electronics” package that adds heated power seats, ambient lighting, auto headlights, a blind spot warning system, dual zone climate control, heated mirrors, a rear camera, and keyless entry pad — in addition to the stereo upgrades found in “Moon and Tune.”

Navigation is a $1,775 option, and you’ll need to have all the other options ticked to get it. Final price? A shade under $32,000 for the front-drive model, $33,500 for the all-wheel-drive.

THE COMPETITION

For $31,000, you can get a Honda Accord V6 EX-L with navigation — and a 271 horsepower engine. Or a Toyota Camry SE V6 — and a 268 horsepower engine. They aren’t available with all-wheel-drive, though. And you can’t get navigation on the Camry SE. Want some other options? $33,000 will get you a sporty 272-horsepower Mazda6 s GT with navigation and most of the Ford’s options.

If you can live without a V6 or five seats, Volkswagen will sell you a Passat CC Sport with a 200 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine for $29,000 — though this base trim doesn’t offer many of the luxuries available on the others. It’ll still do 0-60 in under seven seconds, though.

I feel the strongest competitor to the Fusion Sport is the (slightly softer) Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited at just over $31,000 when optioned like the others. Why the Subaru? It offers rally-bred pedigree that the others can’t match, plus the refinement of a flat-6 cylinder engine. Sure, it’s down on power compared with the others — and has “only” a five-speed automatic — but the redesign for 2010 has put it at the top of the class.

THE VERDICT

When sizing up the Sport, it seems Ford has merely pegged the competition, not beaten them. But on the road, the Fusion Sport delivers the most complete sport sedan package over its rivals — especially when considering how well it handles.

If you buy American, the Sport is every bit as good as its rivals on paper, but ekes ahead thanks to optional all-wheel-drive and great handling.

I find it sad that during the original SHO’s life, enthusiasts kept asking Ford to build them an all-wheel-drive version — a request that fell on deaf ears. Now that Ford has finally offered a mid-sized sedan with a powerful V6, all-wheel-drive, and sport suspension that’s every bit as good as its rivals — it’s overshadowed by the larger, heavier, more expensive (but more powerful) 2010 Taurus SHO.

Though, like the original SHO, maybe it’s best that your fellow drivers don’t know how capable the Fusion Sport is.

Just remember to order yours in green.

LOVE IT
  • Excellent handing
  • Good mix of power and fuel efficiency
  • Could be the sleeper car of its generation
LEAVE IT
  • Japanese rivals still offer more powerful engines
  • The Fusion can be a little on the small size for large drivers and passengers
  • Subaru has been doing the all-wheel-drive sedan thing for a while

RELATED READING

2010 Subaru Legacy: First Drive
2009 Volkswagen CC Sport Review
2009 Mazda6 Review