The Ford Fusion has once again been selected as the Fleet Car of the Year. The 2018 honor marks the seventh time, and the second consecutive year, the mid-size sedan has earned the Fleet Car of the Year Award. The Fusion continues its streak of earning more honors than any other vehicle in this award category since the award was founded. The model was selected No. 1 out of a ballot of 19 cars for the annual Automotive Fleet and Business Fleet award.
“I think its success has been a testament to our relationships with a lot of fleet customers that we work with,” said John Ruppert, general manager, commercial and government fleet sales. “We meet twice a year with our Fleet Advisory Board to review our model-year lineup and what we’re going to offer.”
Ford has made several new additions to the latest Fusion including a new suite of standard safety features, ideal for the fleet manager who knows the importance of having a safer fleet. The Fusion has been in its second generation since 2013, but has received several minor face lifts over the years which have continuously improved the available offerings. Also new this year is the Fusion’s plug-in hybrid variation receiving an increased electric-only driving range.
“When you step back, and look at the needs of the marketplace, the Fusion, specifically in the fleet space, hits the nail on the head,” said Ruppert. “It offers a lot of the necessary safety features, the driver assisted technology, and it has an ideal design.”
New Safety Technology
One of the biggest highlights for the latest iteration of the Ford Fusion is the plethora of new driver-assist technologies made available via Ford’s Co-Pilot 360, a feature that is standard across all models and trim levels, according to Ford.
Ford’s Co-Pilot 360 includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot information system, lane-keeping system, rear backup camera, and auto high-beam lighting.
Automatic emergency brakes are added to help curb the severity of potential vehicle and pedestrian collisions; blind spot information and cross-traffic alert helps detect and alert the driver of surrounding vehicles; and the lane keeping technology vibrates the steering wheel to help alert the driver, and can also apply extra steering wheel torque to keep the car centered, according to the automaker.
Meanwhile, another tier of safety technology, Ford Co-Pilot 360 Assist, is available on all models, offering more available features including adaptive cruise control with stop and go technology, which automatically accelerates and brakes to a full stop when traffic halts while maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.
The Ford Fusion’s focus on safety is further evidenced by the fact that recently the 2018 Fusion received the highest ratings across the board from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) regarding its ability to withstand crashes, as well as its capabilities in crash avoidance and mitigation.
Simplified Fusion Lineup
Ford has simplified its lineup in part to make the ordering process easier, narrowing down its total model variations to nine, which includes four alt-fuel options. This mid-size sedan also has six available engines, which includes its hybrid options.
“From a brand perspective, we took the initiative to reduce complexities,” said Todd Fairbairn, Fusion marketing manager.
Several Ecoboost turbocharged four-cylinder engines make up the Fusion’s engine lineup, which includes the 1.5L turbocharged engine, offering 181 hp and 185 lb.-ft. of torque; a 2.0L turbocharged engine, which delivers 245 hp and 275 lb.-ft. of torque; and a 2.7L Ecoboost turbocharged V6, which boasts 325 hp and 380 lb.-ft. of torque.
Other available engines for the Fusion include a 2.5L four-cylinder engine; which produces 175 hp and 175 lb.-ft. of torque.
A new change to the available options for 2019 is that the 1.5L engine, with auto start-stop technology, is now standard on Fusion models SE and higher. These trim levels also feature Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system with 8-inch LCD touch screen, FordPass Connect with Wi-Fi, and dual-zone electronic automatic temperature control.
All engines are coupled to an automatic six-speed transmission, and includes available all-wheel drive on the 2.0L and 2.7L engines for fleets looking for more drivetrain options in regions where AWD is more appropriate.
“Wherever businesses have fleets, whether it’s the northeast, where you need all-wheel-drive, or middle America, where there are longer stretches to travel, you have the vehicle to meet the needs to get from point A to B,” said Ruppert.
EPA-estimated city/highway/combined ratings for the available engine options includes 21/32/25 for the 2.5L; 24/36/28 for the 1.5L; 21/31/25 for the 2.0L in FWD; and 17/26/20 for the 2.7L.
The Hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid trims continue to offer a 2.0L I-4 engine and electric motor, with a 1.4 kWh lithium-ion battery for the Fusion Hybrid, and 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery for the Energi. The Energi boasts an EPA-estimated 109/97/103 MPGe rating and the Hybrid features a 43/41/42.
For the latest iteration, the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid model is projected to have an EPA-estimated electric-only range of up to 25 miles, which is 20% greater than the previous model year. Ford has said that the 2019 Fusion Energi will potentially allow for up to 80% of plug-in customers to drive a typical commute strictly on electricity, and that 48% of plug-in hybrid customers could get to and from their jobs strictly running on electric power, according to the Ford.
“Every organization is trying to move toward being greener, but I also think it speaks to companies being more efficient,” said Fairbairn.
The Fusion is available in five regular trims and four alt-fuel trims. This includes: S, SE, SEL, Titanium, and Sport, and the Fusion Hybrid SE, Fusion Hybrid SEL, Fusion Hybrid Titanium, and Fusion Energi Titanium.
The Tech of Fusion
The SYNC 3 infotainment system, available on all trims, offers a myriad useful capabilities ideal for fleets.
When equipped, it includes the voice activated navigation system and Sirius XM Traffic and Travel Link. Ford’s SYNC 3, which was made available for the first time for 2017-MY, also includes standard embedded 4G LTE modem, that provides Wi-Fi for up to 10 devices.
The SYNC 3, with the Ford+Alexa ago offers connectivity to Amazon’s Alexa, and also features Waze compatibility for improved navigation through traffic, according to Ford. It also brings the power of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Other available tech includes a focus beyond the car: FordPass is an app drivers can use to keep them connected to the Fusion at all times. It includes the ability to compare fuel prices on a route, find and reserve parking, and lock and unlock their vehicle remotely.