5. February 2014
The thing about the 2014 Ford Fusion Energi SE is that you have to like not using a lot of gas more than you like having the sort of trunk space that you’ve come to expect in a midsize sedan. It’s like this. Because the Energi is a plug-in hybrid, it has a lithium-ion battery pack. Its battery has a 7.6-kWh capacity. Depending on conditions, it can propel the car for 21 miles on electricity alone, which provides crazy-good miles per gallon. But the battery pack needs to be packaged somewhere, so it is behind the rear seat. Or said another way, it is in the trunk. And it takes up a considerable amount of space in the trunk. The cargo capacity for the Fusion Energi is 8.2 cubic feet. By way of comparison, were you to buy a non-hybrid Fusion, you’d discover the trunk provides almost double the space: 16 cubic feet.
Which brings us to the gasoline. The EPA has a way of calculating miles per gallon for hybrids somewhat differently. So when you have a car that can conceivably go 21 miles using no gasoline, things get a bit surreal for those of us who don’t drive in an EPA test lab. The Fusion Energi is rated at 108/92 mpge, which is city/highway miles per gallon equivalency. On the car’s window sticker it has the combined mpge average (100 mpge), and also a number for gasoline-only city/highway combined: 43 mpg. Realize that in addition to the 88-kW permanent magnet AC synchronous motor it has a 141-hp 2.0-liter I4 engine that uses gas. During my week with the Fusion Energi during the Polar Vortex freezing Detroit, I averaged 36 mpg. Which, with the heater blasting, is damned impressive. Anyone who doesn’t think that fuel efficiency is a good feature for people who are more interested in getting from A to B safely and reliably than having something that they can “toss through the corners while getting on the pedal” or some such car reviewer nonsense ought to pump gas while the wind chill is minus 35. About a minute of that and they’d be wishing for more miles per gallon. That said, were you to buy a Fusion with a 181-hp 1.5-liter I4 EcoBoost and auto start-stop you’d get a stickered 25/37/29 mpg, which is really good, albeit not in hybrid territory.
The Fusion Energi Hybrid has a cool-looking covered port in the front driver’s side door panel where the SAE J1772 standard 120-v charger goes for the “plug-in” portion of your fueling. The surround glows. It looks like a car that uses electricity ought to. And, yes, there is a normal place to fill it up with gasoline, as well.
One thing that struck me in not a particularly good way was that the car, which has a base MSRP of $38,700, a car that is something of a mass-market technological tour de force, starts with a key, not a pushbutton. Arguably, something that is ostensibly electrically powered really ought to have a button, not something that was invented 4,000 years ago.
And I would be less than forthright were I not to mention a MyFordTouch issue: While listening to Sirius radio with the center screen selected to Entertainment, there was a black rectangle centered on the screen with reverse white type reading: “No Signal.” Again, I was listening to the radio. This stayed this way the entire week I spent with the car. Possibly there would be some fix to it, but let’s face it: when you have a problem with Windows, there ought to be something a bit more intuitive that Ctl-Alt-Del. So automotive electronic interfaces ought to have something dead-simple to take care of things like “No Signal.”
Overlooking the powertrain and that cool LED exterior ring around the charge port, the car inside and out is a Fusion. Which is certainly a highly competitive product from any angle.
Engine: 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle, 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 141 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 129 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
Materials: Aluminum block and head
Electric motor: Permanent magnet synchronous motor
Horsepower: 88 kW
Total system power: 188 hp
Transmission: HF35 eCVT hybrid powersplit transaxle
Wheelbase: 112.2 in.
Length: 191.8 in.
Width: 75.2 in.
Height: 58 in.
Total interior volume: 111 cu. ft.
Cargo volume: 8.2 cu. ft.