By BOB GRITZINGER, Contributor | @bobgritzinger For the 2013 model…
Earlier this month, I toted around in the 2013 Ford Fusion (today named Green Car of the Year at the Los Angeles Auto Show) for a weekend. I was pleasantly surprised by its style and smoothness. Upon its reveal at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show in January, I had been impressed by the bold overhaul Ford gave this model. The design was aggressive without trying too hard. It appeared to be ready for the kind of driving customers have come to expect from Ford’s other models.
I took the Fusion home on a Friday night after work. I appreciate it when an automaker provides me a car for the weekend. Taking delivery of a press car during the work week can be a bit of a nuisance thanks to D.C. traffic and my lack of garage parking at the office. Plus, with all of that hassle (and the car being stuck in ‘park’ for the entire day), I don’t truly get to experience the car the way an auto writer should.
Anyhow, I digress. I was excited to take home the ‘Ginger Ale Metallic’ four-door. I was strangely happy in my anticipation of all the errands I would be running on Saturday.
The drive home was my first time ever sitting in this car. I connected my iPhone to the MyFord Touch system for hands-free driving and all systems were GO. Traffic was heavy on the way home so I used SYNC to voice dial my mom at home. I often use the Bluetooth hands-free calling feature in my 2013 BMW X3 so I wanted to see how the systems compared – both in simplicity to use and sound quality on both sides of the call. Lucky for Ford, Mom gave the call quality a thumbs up.
The interior was far more luxurious than I expected, and this wasn’t even the top trim level. I was in a well-loaded SE that came in just below $31,000 with destination charges. At that price point, the following options made it onto the car:
- Technology package
- Reverse sensing system
- Automatic transmission with start/stop technology
- Driver’s assist package
- Active park assist
The Fusion’s center stack was well placed and organized. I liked that the buttons were not so sensitive that me barely hovering my finger over them caused me to accidentally take the wrong action.
I also found the MyFord Touch system to be efficient. I know there have been gripes in the past about how well it functions. It did take me a few minutes to figure out how to operate different aspects of the system, particularly the left-hand and right-hand side buttons on the steering wheel and their correlating screens in the driver’s dashboard, but once I understood how it all worked it was simple and straightforward.
My favorite aspect of the in-car technology was my ability to have vehicle information on one screen and navigation directions on the other – right in front of your face. You don’t even have to look to the center of the car for the next instruction. I found this to be a great feature to help drivers keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road while still getting the information they need en route.
The charcoal leather seats and padded steering wheel were comfortable, even luxurious – for both my 6-foot-2 tall husband and me. We had dinner plans at a friend’s house so we took the car for a mini trip. Both of us appreciated the quietness of the cabin and the smoothness of the transmission. One of us commented that had this car been around when my husband bought his Honda Accord, the Ford Fusion would have been the preferred choice. The ride took us through some suburban back roads, so we were also thankful for the bright headlights, and then the brakes when we spotted a deer standing in our pathway.
The only disappointment I had with the Fusion was its underpowered 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine. It’s a great engine, don’t get me wrong, I just felt the car was too big for it. If the car wasn’t in Sport driving mode, then I was longing for the extra two cylinders. But with the fuel economy regulations edging higher and higher, four-cylinders are gaining popularity. Perhaps a healthy compromise for larger sedans powered by an I-4 would be to add a turbocharger. I think this would solve both the call for higher gas mileage and the driver’s need to feel confident merging into highway traffic.
I don’t know if it was the design or the Ginger Ale color (which I thought was closer to a sparkling green tea), but the car seemed to get stares wherever we drove it. In parking lots, strangers inquired about the Fusion, interested and even excited to know more.
While a weekend’s stay is certainly no long-term test, I can safely conclude that the 2013 Ford Fusion is an excellent Accord alternative.