2014 Ford Fusion Energi Review

Bigger battery, more MPGs

2014 Ford Fusion Energi Review

When it comes to the mid-sized sedan segment, Ford nailed the important criteria with the latest Fusion. It’s gorgeous, high-tech, spacious and affordable.

FAST FACTS

1. Ford Fusion Energi models can travel 21 emission free miles, and 620 miles overall.

2. The Fusion Energi is rated at 108 MPGe city, 92 MPGe highway and 100 MPGe combined. The gas engine is rated at 44 MPG in the city and 41 MPG on the highway.

3. Charge times for the Fusion Energi takes two and a half hours using a 240-volt charger, or seven hours using a 120-volt charger.

4. Prices for the Fusion Energi start at $39,495, before any government incentives.

Customers of the Fusion are offered a buffet of choices as the car can be had with one of six engine choices. There is the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, the miniscule but turbocharged 1.5-liter and 1.6-liter engines. A hybrid model is rated for 47 mpg in combined driving situations but underperformed in previous AutoGuide.com test drives. Finally there’s the Fusion Energi which expands on the Hybrid’s technology to be more attractive to energy-conscious buyers.

The Fusion Energi uses the same drivetrain as the Hybrid, but with a bigger battery for longer emissions free drives. The Fusion Energi can travel up to 21 miles without using gasoline and once that battery runs dry, the car acts like a normal Fusion Hybrid.

Measuring Up To The Competition

The Fusion Energi has one primary rival: the Honda Accord PHEV. With the limited availability of the Accord PHEV, you could also consider the widely available Toyota Prius Plug-In which is about $10,000 cheaper than the Ford and Honda, but it is a smaller vehicle and features less premium goodies.

2013 Ford Fusion Energi 11As plug-in hybrids, the Accord and Fusion can’t be judged on fuel consumption alone. But they aren’t pure electric vehicles either, so evaluating them based on electric range doesn’t make sense either. The better vehicle is the one that combines its drivetrains smoothly and most efficiently.

For instance, the Honda vehicle can only travel 13 miles on its electric battery, but features an impressively efficient gas motor, which is capable of getting 47 MPG in the city and 46 on the highway. However, the Fusion can travel a solid 8 miles further on its battery but its internal combustion engine is only rated for 44 MPG in the city and 41 MPG on the highway. Total range is a bladder-busting 620 miles.

2013 Ford Fusion Energi 1The Fusion Energi is slower to charge than the Honda product. A full charge can come as quick as two and a half hours when done with a 240-volt charger, but those using a conventional 120-volt outlet will find it takes seven hours to charge the vehicle. The upside with this technology is that for many buyers, that means that no matter what kind of home charger you use, you can top up the battery over-night.

Green Means Go

2013 Ford Fusion Energi 14

Despite its capability to charge overnight, the numbers don’t look favorable for the Fusion. Fortunately, the car isn’t tapped out of tricks. The total system is rated with188 hp and feels plentiful and helps the car get up to speed easily. Once at speed, the electric drivetrain helps keep the car going with little assistance from the gasoline engine. The Fusion glides along on pure electric power up to speeds of 85 mph and while I didn’t reach speeds that high, it was always up to the task of staying green and clean on the highway.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Using a button on the center console, the driver can choose to save or use the electric power. Drivers with shorter commutes can take advantage of the cars hefty electric battery and savvy drivers can even inch out a mile or two depending on the terrain and traffic. In my experience during a 51 mile round-trip commute, the car returned about 78 MPG overall spread over driving both with and without electric power. It’s important to note that there is no outlet to charge the car at the AutoGuide.com office while at work, but if there was, the car would net about 99 MPG.

Life Without Electricity

2013 Ford Fusion Energi 3

Without any juice in the battery, I experienced about 40 mpg, on par with the regular Fusion Hybrid. An ideal strategy is to save the electric energy for heavy traffic, like urban environments. This makes for smooth, emissions free driving in the city. Where other vehicles struggle to achieve good fuel economy in the city, the Fusion Energi proved to use no fuel at all.

The cars continuously variable transmission still suffers from a disconnected rubber-band feeling, but the brakes are an improvement over the regular hybrid model, providing a consistent braking feel. When it comes to steering and road feel, the Fusion Energi is nearly identical to its other Fusion stable mates, meaning it’s still quite responsive and enjoyable to drive.

Saves On Fuel, Not On Price

While the new Ford Fusion is still a looker, there’s very little to hint at its green-car-club credentials. Aside from a charge port on the front left fender, the Energi looks identical to other Fusions. It might not stand out much, but at least it’s attractive.

The car doesn’t lack much from a content perspective. Leather, dual-zone climate control and items like fog lights are all part of standard equipment. Our model featured extras like navigation and several driver assists. Titanium models are available with even more features including heated seats, push-button ignition, adaptive cruise control and active park assist. Select all the options and the price balloons to $46,810.

The biggest disappointment comes with the Fusions trunk space, which is seriously disfigured in order to accommodate the plug-in hybrid drivetrain. Conventional Fusions have 16 cubic feet of luggage space and Hybrids have 12, but the Energi only offers 8.2.

The Verdict

2013 Ford Fusion Energi 15

With the Energi model, the best traits of the Fusion are still intact. The car drives confidently and looks good but the extra cost of the plug-in hardware doesn’t make any sense. Starting at $39,495 after delivery and before any incentives, the Energi is $11,500 more than the Fusion Hybrid SE. A quick calculation has the Fusion Energi saving $458 per year over the Hybrid SE, based on fuel costs of 3.61 dollars a gallon and an average of 15,000 miles. That would mean paying back the cost of the Energi over the Hybrid SE would take about 25 years. Can the car or even the electric components last that long?

While the Fusion Energi is cheaper than the Accord PHEV (which starts at just over $40,000) the price premium is impossible to justify.

The more wallet-friendly decision would be to opt for the normal Fusion Hybrid, which is just as accommodating and good looking, while being thousands of dollars cheaper.

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