My ex used to drive a previous-generation 2.5-liter Ford Fusion, so naturally, I don’t have the best memories of it.
Engine: 2.5L 4-cyl/1.5L EcoBoost 4-cyl/2.0L EcoBoost 4-cyl/2.7L EcoBoost V6
Power: 175 hp, 175 lb-ft/181 hp, 185 lb-ft/245 hp, 275 lb-ft/325 hp, 350 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
EPA Fuel Economy (MPG): 23 city, 34 hwy (1.5L)
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 10 city, 7 hwy (1.5L)
US Price: Starts at $22,120, Top Trim $36,620
CAN Price: Starts at $22,481, Top Trim $38,561
I still get anxiety when I see a grey version of that sedan on the roads or in parking lots because I imagine the awkwardness of bumping in to him and then I just look in the opposite direction and pretend I don’t see anything, just like the awkward person I am. The good news is that the 2017 Ford Fusion looks and feels different enough that the popular family sedan doesn’t give me anxiety any more!
Ford is actually trying to take the anxiety out of everyone’s daily commute, and putting aside any aversion to all things related to exes, Ford has given its popular family sedan a more upscale look and massive upgrades to make it more competitive and more relaxing to drive. Promising a zen drive bookended by kale smoothies and art lessons by a serene lake in Quebec’s beautiful countryside, Ford wants to send a message that driving doesn’t have to be a stressful experience.
More Tech, Less Stress
Probably the most significant and stress-reducing upgrade to the Fusion is the availability of an entire suite of driver assistance features: Active lane-keep assist, adaptive automatic highbeams, adaptive cruise control with stop and go traffic assist, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, cross traffic assist (which can see cars up to 10 car lengths away), rear view camera, driver drowsiness alert, blind spot monitoring, and a new parking assistant that can park in parallel and perpendicular spots as well as help you exit a parking spot (both new features).
The best part of Ford’s driver assistance tech is how intuitive and unobtrusive it is to use. The adaptive cruise control in particular was smooth and natural feeling — the braking and acceleration was gradual and not jarring, and I never had to intervene out of fear that the Fusion was coming in too hot to the car in front of it, which I’ve had to do many times in other cars. The fact it comes with stop and go, unlike many other cars with adaptive cruise, is a huge bonus that helps relieve the monotony of traffic jams.
ALSO SEE: 2017 Ford Escape Review
I love the parking assist feature, and although it isn’t a total replacement for knowing how to park on your own, it comes in handy. It’s not 100 percent perfect and drivers have to fully understand the parameters that must be met in order for the system to work like it should, but typically the only driver interaction needed is modulating the brake and changing gears if needed. All you need to do is push the parking assist button on the center console, pick what kind of parking you need (parallel, perpendicular or park-out), signal to indicate if the spot is on the left or right, and follow the prompts on the screen, which will tell you exactly what you need to do while taking care of the rest.
See the parking assistant in action below. (My apologies for the salty language in the music, which I didn’t realize was playing in the background. Thanks, Ludacris.)
— Jodi Lai (@DrivingMissJodi) July 6, 2016
A More Zen Interior
Ford has gone to great lengths to ensure the Fusion’s interior is smarter and more luxurious than before. You can even get quilted leather and ventilated seats if you want, and the interior punches above its price point. Perhaps the best change to the interior is the center console: the maddening touch-sensitive buttons are gone in favor of real, tactile buttons, and the gear shift lever has been swapped out for a slick-looking rotary gear shift dial. The dial looks fancy, feels great, is easy to use, and opens up more space in the center console. Also, if you happen to turn the car off while it’s still in Drive, the dial will automatically put it in Park. One less thing to worry about.
Inside, you’ll also find more useful storage including a giant center console box to hide valuables and a huge phone bin that will fit even the biggest phablets. Strategically placed USB ports make sure all your tech gadgets stay charged. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also on offer, as is the user-friendly Sync3 infotainment system and Ford Pass and Sync Connect, an app that gives drivers real-time updates and remote access to some of the car’s functions.
Another much-appreciated change is that the turn signal now clicks into place instead of springing back to center after you push it. This little detail drove me mad in the previous-gen car, but it seems Ford is listening to its customers and is making little changes that make a big difference in improving the user interface. A push-button start is also standard now on all trims, and stop-start is also available on all trims except the base model.
The stop-start system is one of the smoothest I’ve experienced in a car, even by luxury car standards. It’s a smart system that keeps the car running in extreme temperatures, and you don’t even realize it working half the time because it’s so quiet and unobtrusive. It helps that Ford has done a lot of work to make sure the ride is smooth and the cabin is quiet. New insulation and acoustic glass makes the cabin very hushed, which only enforces the zen nature Ford wants you to feel while driving.
Unfortunately, the driving dynamics of the 2017 Ford Fusion feel much the same despite a handful of new engine options. A total of six different powertrains are offered: The hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, the same lethargic 2.5-liter four-cylinder, a 1.5L EcoBoost four-cylinder, a 2.0L EcoBoost four-cylinder and a powerful 2.7L EcoBoost V6 that will power the new Fusion Sport that we, unfortunately, didn’t get to drive yet.
The 1.5L unit makes 181 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque and is only available with front-wheel drive, the 2.0L makes 245 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque and is available with AWD or FWD, and the 2.7L engine, which is only available with AWD, delivers a stout 325 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. The 2.5L engine will be mostly reserved for fleet sales, but the 1.5L unit will be the volume seller. All engines are hooked up to a seamless six-speed auto, but hybrids use a CVT.
I spent most of the time driving in a Fusion equipped with the 2.0L engine, which exhibited a fair amount of turbo lag and had a tough time mustering the strength to do a pass on the highway. It should be sufficient for most drivers, but it definitely doesn’t make the Fusion feel sporty. I’m sure the V6 will address this, and I’m hoping suspension upgrades to the Sport model keep the sedan flatter and more confident in a corner.
Vague and over-assisted steering that is twitchy on the highway was also a weakness in the previous-gen Fusion, and that is one area that hasn’t been addressed with this new model. Another shortcoming that hasn’t been fixed is that the Fusion always felt like a large car to drive — it feels heavy, tough to maneuver and the sightlines aren’t great, meaning it’s still very difficult to gauge where the car’s four corners are, making it tricky to navigate in tight spots. A Honda Accord or Mazda6 have better driving dynamics, but the Fusion handily beats those two champs in a lot of other important areas.
The Verdict: 2017 Ford Fusion Review
The 2017 Ford Fusion gets updates that make it extremely competitive in the family sedan segment, which is still seeing huge sales despite the popularity of crossovers. Besides looking more luxurious on the outside and offering more luxurious trims on the inside, the most impressive update to this new Fusion is all the tech it gets. Add in the fact that it got a Top Safety Pick+ rating and that it has some of the best driver assistance features in the market, and its positive features easily outweigh the somewhat wonky driving dynamics to make it a very worthwhile family sedan.
There is a lot to be anxious about in today’s world – bumping into exes, performance evaluations at work, worrying about how you will be judged for binge watching the entire latest season of Game of Thrones in one sitting — but the 2017 Ford Fusion does a really good job as a stress-reliever, and we need more of that in our frantic lives.
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