The second-generation Fusion is the most important model Ford will launch at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. And this is because it's the Blue Oval's contender in the popular mid-size class not only in North America, but also in the rest of the world where it will replace the Mondeo.
The outgoing Fusion was the first model to feature Ford’s then-new five-bar grille, which was later adopted by the rest of its U.S. range. Likewise, its successor is the model that introduces the next evolution of Ford's design language previewed by the Frankfurt Motor Show Evos concept.
It is distinguished by the slim headlights and the hexagonal, Aston Martin-like front grille, while the bodywork looks like a sportier, tauter evolution of the European Mondeo.
“The previous Fusion was an easy purchase for a customer to rationalize”, said Chris Hamilton, chief exterior designer. “Our design goal for the new car was to give the mainstream sedan buyer a top-drawer visual experience, adding some emotional appeal to an already sensible choice.”
More important than its looks is what lies underneath. The Fusion/Mondeo has a MacPherson front and multilink rear suspension set-up and an electric-assisted power steering. Ford claims that its road handling is better than the outgoing model’s, while at the same time it promises to be the class leaders in the areas of ride and refinement.
The all-new Fusion will be the first sedan to offer gasoline, hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions; while its Mondeo twin will be available with diesel engines as well.
Ford has initially unveiled the engine line-up for the Fusion that includes two turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engines with a displacement of 1.6-liters and 2.0-liters, a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four cylinder, plus hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.
The 2.5-liter unit produces 170HP and 170lb-ft (230.5 Nm) with a six-speed automatic driving the front wheels.
The 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine produces 179HP and 172 lb-ft (233Nm) of peak torque while returning fuel economy figures of 26 mpg city and 37 mpg highway. It gets a six-speed automatic transmission and features a stop/start system. The 1.6L model is offered only with front-wheel drive.
The 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine churns out 237HP and 250Nm lb-ft (338.9 Nm) and is paired with a six-speed SelectShift auto transmission and will be optionally available with an all-wheel drive system that can send more torque to the rear axle, making it the performance version of the range.
The 1.6L and 2.5L models are offered only with front-wheel drive, while the 2.0L Turbo will be optionally available with an all-wheel drive system that can send more torque to the rear axle, making it the performance version of the range.
The Fusion Hybrid’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine has been replaced by a new 2.0-liter unit that also operates on the more fuel efficient Atkinson cycle. Furthermore, the first generation’s nickel-metal hydride batteries have been ditched in favor of a new, lighter and more powerful lithium-ion battery pack.
Top speed in electric-only mode has been increased from 47 to 62 mph (75 to 100 km/h while fuel economy is expected to be best in class with 47 mpg in city driving and 44 mpg on the highway, beating the Toyota Camry Hybrid and Hyundai Sonata by 4/5 mpg and 12/4 mpg in city and highway respectively.
Joining the Hybrid model is the new Energi plug-in hybrid that promises return more than 100 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), which Ford says is at least 8 MPGe better than the Chevrolet Volt and 13 MPGe than the projected number for Toyota’s plug-in Prius.
The all-new Fusion/Mondeo will be available with an array of high-tech safety options, like adaptive cruise control, active park assist, lane keeping change and blind spot information systems, as well as the latest version of the SYNC and MyFord Touch infotainment systems.
The 2013 Fusion will go on sale in the U.S. at the end of 2012, while the global market Mondeo will begin arriving in early 2013.