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The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

The Daily Drivers: Redesigned Ford Fusion raises midsize sedan bar

One measure of the U.S. auto industry is how well it competes in the family sedan market. Until fairly recently, it has been outclassed by its import competition. Now, however, Ford has redesigned its midsize Fusion and, in doing so, raised the bar for the American midsize sedan.

Styling: From a design standpoint, our favorite midsize sedans have come from Korea. Now we can add the Fusion to the list. Peter, an Aston Martin fan, loves the hexagonal, Aston-inspired grille. The sculpted body has far more character than the previous Fusion — it's not even close. The slender and bold headlights give the car a slightly menacing look. In the rear, there are wrap-around LED taillights that look sharp and mimic the Focus compact sedan. Our tester came with 19-inch dark stainless-painted aluminum wheels, which looked sharp against the bright Platinum White paint.

Performance: The Fusion feels solid. Our tester had all-wheel drive, which helps keep the car stable in cornering, as do a longer body (1.2 inches) and increased wheelbase (4.8 inches). The electronic power steering is firm, yet has good feedback, even at higher speeds. We drove the 2.0-liter inline-4 EcoBoost that puts out 240 horsepower, which is peppy enough that you're tempted to play heavy with the accelerator. The 6-speed SelectShift automatic shifts smoothly. Overall, the feel is sporty, and the driving experience enjoyable. The mpg of 22 city and 31 mpg is competitive in the class.

Interior: The cabin is a blend of textures and materials that recalls some of our favorite imports. We had the top-level Titanium trim and were impressed with the details, from its grippy, leather-wrapped steering wheel to the placement of speakers in the front doors. The well-bolstered, sport-stitched leather seats are firm, yet comfortable. The 10-way adjustable driver's seat has a power lumbar support and three memory settings. There is plenty of head- and legroom up front, but tall passengers may feel constricted in the rear seats because of the sloping roof-line. We did have some nits: The lip of the trunk is thick, so shorter Lyra found it difficult to grip it to close the lid. Even though the MyFord Touch system has improved a lot, the screen buttons are too small and too much near the corners. As Lyra found out, they can be difficult to navigate for someone with longer fingernails. Also, our tester's charcoal-black interior could have used much more accent trim to break up the dark, monochromatic look.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Trunk: It's deep and roomy at 16 cubic feet.

Styling: Ford has banished the bland sedan.

Blind-spot: Our tester had blind-spot warning, which this car needs because the door pillar blocks your view. Lyra Solochek

New look: Classy, striking and modern.

EcoBoost: The 4 cylinder has plenty of power, even on the interstate.

Gadgetry: Plenty of available safety systems.

The bottom line: When Peter's younger daughter, who is now used to riding in a variety of cars, sat in the Fusion, she asked: "This is a Ford?" Indeed it is, and the Fusion is now among the top of the midsize class.

Our 3 favorites



New look: Classy, striking and modern.

EcoBoost: The 4 cylinder has plenty of power, even on the interstate.

Gadgetry: Plenty of available safety systems.

Trunk: It's deep and roomy at 16 cubic feet.

Styling: Ford has banished the bland sedan.

Blind-spot: Our tester had blind-spot warning, which this car needs because the doorpillar blocks your view.

Peter Couture



Lyra Solochek

2013 Ford Fusion Titanium with EcoBoost

Price: $21,700 base start, $32,690 as tested

Powertrain:

2.0-liter inline 4

EcoBoost with single turbo, 6-speed SelectShift automatic with paddle shifters, AWD

Horsepower: 240 at 5,500 rpm

Torque: 270 pound-feet at

3,000 rpm

Dimensions

in inches:

Wheelbase, 112.2

Length, 191.8

Width, 83.5

Height, 58.2

Seats: 5

Fuel economy:

22 miles per gallon city, 33 mpg

highway

Safety features: Airbags and curtains, ABS, reverse sensors, rearview camera, torque vectoring control, AdvanceTrac with electronic stability control, postcrash alert, electronic brake-force distribution, emergency braking assist

Website: ford.com/cars/fusion

The Daily Drivers: Redesigned Ford Fusion raises midsize sedan bar 11/23/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 1:04pm]
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