Photo by Vince Taroc.
I recently had the opportunity to test drive a 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid for week. Although the model I drove was the Titanium trim level, a level higher than the SE model typically ordered by commercial fleets, my primary interest was in evaluating the vehicle from both the fleet manager and company driver perspective.
I'd like to start by discussing the Fusion Hybrid from the company driver perspective. Although the 2014 Fusion Hybrid is a carryover model, its styling continues to be a head turner and would make most drivers proud to have the car parked in their driveway. The appealing exterior styling contributes to the Fusion's strong appeal on company selectors where drivers are offered a choice of vehicles.
While test driving the Fusion Hybrid, I paid extra attention to the ergonomics and driving comfort of the interior cabin. For most fleet drivers, the company car is their mobile office. One of the more noticeable driving impressions is the acoustic insulation within the cabin, which does an excellent job in minimizing road and wind noise. In addition, the 2.0L powerplant is quieter than many comparable displacement engines, which contributes to lower acoustic levels within the cabin.
Another noteworthy driving impression was the almost undetectable and seamless transition from battery power to the internal combustion engine. This is achieved by the electronic continuously variable transmission (eCVT) that seamlessly shifts power between the electric motor and internal combustion powerplant.
The Fusion Hybrid is well-powered to meet the typical challenges encountered by company drivers, who drive, on average, 2,000 per month. The Fusion Hybrid is powered by a 2.0L four-cylinder engine, an electric motor, and a lithium-ion battery pack. Combined, they produce 188 horsepower, which provides ample power to safely merge onto freeways or perform sudden acceleration emergency evasive maneuvers.
Since company drivers come in all shapes and sizes, the four-way adjustable driver seat allows drivers to find the right driving position. Behind the wheel, there is ample legroom, without the annoyance of your right leg forced against the center stack. The driver seat is well designed and contoured to allow for long-distance driving in comfort. Another nice feature for drivers working in Snow Belt states are the heated front seats and, in some models, a heated steering wheel. The interior cabin has a spacious feel, allowing for long hours in the car without feeling cramped.
Photo by Vince Taroc.
From an ergonomic perspective, all controls are within easy reach, although the buttons for the dual zone climate control system and the audio system could be a tad larger for easier and more precise touch control. However, this concern is mitigated by the availability of integrated audio controls built into the steering wheel.
As with all hybrids, decreased trunk space is always an issue, since the battery packs are typically housed in the trunk compartment. However, the use of the smaller-sized lithium-ion battery pack in the Fusion Hybrid helps minimize the loss of truck space. In addition, materials can be stored on top of the carpet-covered battery pack in the trunk compartment. The 60/40 split fold rear seats can fold flat with a pass-through to the trunk, allowing drivers to carry larger items, when needed.
From the fleet manager perspective, the Fusion Hybrid is a very fuel-efficient vehicle earning an EPA rating of 47 mpg for all three cycles: city, highway, and combined — an impressive feat. The Fusion Hybrid is also a strong contributor to corporate sustainability goals by emitting only 190 grams of CO2 per mile. In addition to the normal bumper-to-bumper and powertrain warranty coverage, Ford Motor Co. offers an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty on hybrid unique components.
In terms of safety, the Ford Fusion offers eight airbags as standard equipment and inflatable rear seat belts, which are available on all Fusion trim levels. The Ford Fusion has a 5-Star overall vehicle rating from NHTSA, the highest rating it offers. Both the SE and Titanium trim levels offer the Luxury Driver Assist package, which includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-departure warning and lane assist.
The wide-angle rear-view camera provides excellent resolution and rear visibility versus those available in other models I've driven. The Fusion also offers adaptive cruise control, which uses forward-looking radar to "look" down the road. When activated, it can slow the Fusion when slower traffic is detected ahead. The Ford SYNC system includes an emergency crash notification system that can be set to automatically call 911 when paired with a compatible phone.
After spending a week driving the 2014 Fusion Hybrid in a variety of commuter and freeway situations, it is easy to see why the Fusion continues to be a top pick by both company drivers and fleet managers alike.
Editor's note: View a full photo gallery of the Ford Fusion Hybrid here.
2014 Ford Fusion Wins Car of the Year