Photo courtesy of Ford.
Launched in 2012 at the North American International Auto Show, the current generation 2014 Ford Fusion and Fusion Hybrid have been awarded the 2014 Fleet Car of the Year award for the fourth straight year.
The 2014 Fusion/Fusion Hybrid beat out 43 cars for the annual Automotive Fleet and Business Fleet award, racking up the most votes by fleet managers in an online ballot.
"The entire Ford Fleet team is very pleased that customers continue to find the Fusion as the commercial car of choice. We are committed to making the proper investments going forward to meet the evolving needs of companies and drivers that utilize the Fusion," according to John Ruppert, general manager, commercial and government operations, at Ford Motor Company.
Delivering Power & Savings
The 2014 Ford Fusion continues to offer fleets the choice of five separate powertrains and features an 1.5L EcoBoost four-cylinder engine for increased fuel efficiency. The 1.5L engine is the fifth member of Ford's family of fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines. The powerplant features turbocharging, direct gasoline injection, and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT).
The EcoBoost engine also features a water-cooled, integrated exhaust manifold. Casting the cylinder head and exhaust manifold as a single unit reduces overall weight and moves the turbocharger closer to the exhaust ports for improved responsiveness, according to the automaker.
Ford noted that the 1.5L engine is projected to deliver approximately the same power and torque as the 1.6L in the 2013 Ford Fusion, while improving fuel economy and providing improved driveability.
Auto start-stop technology is also available on the 1.5L EcoBoost Fusion model with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Fusion Hybrid Provides More Choice
The 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid features an EPA-estimated 47 mpg highway/city. It is powered by a 2.0L Atkinson-cycle I4 engine and electric motor, with an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT). It achieves 188 net hp and 129 lb.-ft. of torque, and is available in S (new for the Fusion Hybrid), SE, and Titanium trim levels.
The SmartGuage with EcoGuide is also featured on the Fusion Hybrid. The instrument cluster provides hybrid owners with a more connected vehicle experience, according to the automaker. Fuel and battery power levels, along with average and instant fuel economy, are among the available information.
Driver Assist Technologies & Safety Front of Mind
The 2014 Ford Fusion and Fusion Hybrid feature several available standard safety systems, including:
Lane-keeping system. This class-exclusive technology consists of three elements to help alert a driver to maintain proper lane position. Using a small, forward-facing camera behind the inside rearview mirror, the system "looks" down the road, monitoring lane markings to determine that the car is on course. The system will alert a driver if drowsiness or erratic lane-keeping is detected. The second element warns a driver with a steering wheel vibration if the car drifts too close to lane markings. Finally, the lane-keeping aid will actually apply pressure on the steering wheel to alert the driver to bring the car back into proper lane position
Active park assist. Employing sensors, this technology can identify a suitable parallel parking space, calculate trajectory, and steer the car to properly position it within the spot. All a driver needs to do is operate the accelerator and brake pedals.
Blind spot information system (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert. Sensors in both rear quarter-panels are able to detect traffic in a driver's blind spot, providing both audible and visual warnings if vehicles are detected. BLIS technology also features a cross-traffic alert, warning the driver of vehicles approaching from either side when backing out of a parking space with obstructed views, such as between two large vans.
Adaptive cruise control. Using forward-looking radar, this system "looks" down the road when activated, and can slow the Fusion when slower traffic is detected ahead. Adaptive cruise control enables collision warning with brake support to help slow the car if the potential of a crash is detected
SYNC with MyFord Touch. With advanced in-car, voice-activated technology, this system recognizes many voice commands and includes a color touch screen and Wi-Fi connectivity. The technology reads incoming texts, and can even adjust the vehicle's climate controls.
Inflatable rear seat belts. Also new for 2014, inflatable rear seat belts are now available on all Fusion trim levels. The inflatable belts help distribute crash force energy across more of the torso area than a traditional belt, which helps reduce the risk of injury while providing support to the head and neck. In the event of a frontal or side crash, the inflatable safety belts hold the passenger in the appropriate seating position, helping to reduce risk of injury, according to Ford.
Offering Fleets the Power of Choice
Helping lock in the automakers' fourth consecutive win, according to Ruppert, is the broad base of appeal for the Fusion.
"There is a broad base of fleets that find the Fusion and Fusion Hybrid the most attractive," Ruppert noted. "In terms of fleet usage, we see sales representatives, service representatives, and management supervisors utilizing the vehicle. In terms of company type, it ranges across the board, including insurance fleets, pharmaceutical fleets, as well as consumer packaged goods."
The vehicle has been redesigned twice — 2010 and 2013 — in the past four years, which may help account for the vehicle's continued appeal to the ever-changing needs of fleet drivers.
Not one to rest on its laurels, Ford plans to continue its aggressive refresh cadence with the Ford Fusion moving forward, with a goal to continue it to be the fleet sedan of choice.
"Fleets will continue to see the latest and greatest in this car going forward," Ruppert said.