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Edmunds: 2006 Ford Fusion

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Link: http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drive...rticleId=106996

Stone-Cold Fusion
By Basem Wasef
Date posted: 09-01-2005

Back in 1986, the Taurus was heralded as the car that would save Ford Motor Company. And it did. Now, 20 years later the same monumental responsibility has been thrust upon the 2006 Ford Fusion.

Although its outgoing Taurus sold 6.7 million units in its 21-year run, Ford has never really offered a proper midsize sedan to battle the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, and Toyota Camry — until now. Positioned with neat alliteration between the Focus and the Five Hundred, Ford hopes the Fusion will bridge the long-standing abyss in the company's product lineup.

A Mazda Underneath
Although it's based on a Mazda 6 chassis that has been lengthened over 2 inches and widened over an inch, the Fusion is Ford's first completely digital car, featuring computerized design, engineering and testing. The results, according to Ford, are improved interior and exterior panel fit, tighter tolerances, more efficient aerodynamics, and increased torsional stiffness (by 12.7 percent) without adding weight.

Visually, the Fusion appears smaller than its competitors, though the spec sheet indicates differently. It's greater in wheelbase, overall length and width than the Honda, Hyundai and Toyota.

Inspired by the 427 sedan concept car from 2003, the Fusion's styling is slick and uniform. Body panels are smooth and flush, and come across as looking expensive for the price point. Although its face recalls the somewhat staid Cadillac STS, its clear-lensed taillights are pure 20-something tuner.

Three Models/Two Engines
Three models are offered: the base S, which starts at $17,995; the SE; and the top-of-the-line SEL. Each comes standard with the same 2.3-liter, all-aluminum, DOHC four-cylinder that's used in the Mazda 6. It makes 160 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 150 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm and can be paired with a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic.

If you want V6 power you have to step up to the SE model. Its optional 3.0-liter six-cylinder, which is also borrowed from the Mazda, makes 221 hp at 6,250 rpm and zings the price up to $21,275. Although still more expensive and less powerful than a 2006 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6, the Fusion SE V6 is cheaper than its Japanese competition.

The V6 SEL costs about $22,000 and features 17-inch aluminum wheels, automatic temperature control, upgraded interior trim, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with redundant stereo and climate controls. Add all the stand-alone options and the price can climb as high as $26,000.

Perhaps the biggest foul in the Fusion's specs are its lack of a manual transmission with the V6. Despite this V6 being paired with a five-speed manual in the Mazda, it's only partnered with a six-speed automatic in the Fusion.

Nice and Roomy
Fusions come in three different interior color schemes based on trim levels, and our SEL model featured a discreetly tasteful charcoal interior with off-white top stitching and piano black accents. The large analog gauges are also a high point, clearly indicating Ford's desire to step up the quality of its interiors. Seat comfort is also good.

Most textures are nicely finished and the secondary controls are ergonomically sound, though cabin temperature was inadvertently raised on more than one occasion by an awkwardly positioned steering wheel-mounted climate control button. In keeping with the domestic theme of supersized excess, Fusions offer six cupholders for five passengers.

Head and legroom measurements are just within the competition's range, and its 15.8 cubic feet of trunk space places it ahead of the Accord but behind Camry and Sonata in the cargo room department. The Fusion's trunk opening is extra large, however, and its rear seats drop flat with the pull of a lever.

Fusing With the Road
During the several hours we spent driving the SEL-trimmed V6 Fusion on North Carolina's winding Blue Ridge Parkway, the car felt well sorted, composed and connected to the road.

Torque peaks at 205 lb-ft at 4,800 rpm, but feels evenly spread across the power band thanks to the V6's variable valve timing. Ford estimates a six-cylinder Fusion can run from zero to 60 mph in the mid-8-second range, which would make it significantly slower than the last V6 Accord we tested, which hit 60 mph in 7 seconds flat.

The six-speed automatic transmission was the weak link in our V6 Fusion's driving dynamic. Though the six-speed automatic offers well-chosen ratios that maximize the engine's torque curve, it often hunts for the correct gear during aggressive driving. Enter a turn with a slight scrub of speed, and the transmission upshifts. Heavier throttle application will eventually kick the transmission down another gear, though it takes a heavier right foot than it should.

Enthusiasts will also no doubt disdain the transmission shifter's single low gear "L" option. A traditional 3-2-1 option would offer more driver control.

Equipped with V-Rated Michelin Pilot tires and the same four-wheel independent suspension as a Mazda 6, we weren't surprised that the Fusion felt stable and handled predictably. Hard driving yielded some understeer, but torque steer is kept in check, and the Fusion was well mannered for a car of its size.

Steering feel is positive at high speeds and the four-wheel disc brakes provide strong stops, though initial pedal feel is a bit soft. Ford engineers indicated that complaints of excessive brake dust and roughness have been addressed, implying that softer pads have been incorporated into the Fusion.

Although the car we sampled had antilock brakes, the feature does not come standard on all models. Instead, it's available as part of the Safety and Security package, which includes side airbags, first- and second-row side air curtains, and an anti-theft perimeter alarm. A traction control system is also optional, but stability control, which is standard on the Hyundai Sonata, isn't available on the Fusion.

The Verdict
Transmission indecisiveness and lack of stability management aside, the Fusion is a solid performer that feels well equipped to battle the competition. It's aggressively priced and the top trim levels are nicely finished and appointed. Ford seems to have done its homework and finally produced a car that can compete with the finest from Japan and Korea.

At the end of the day, though, it's the public that will decide whether the 2006 Ford Fusion is good enough to save the Ford Motor Company.

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Edmunds sucks large, but still managed to get in some of the deserved positives while getting in its usual jabs at the domestics and praise for anything about its poster makes, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai. So the Fusion must be pretty good. C/D, R/T, MT, all liked it. Edited by regfootball
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I've defended Edmunds on several occasions, but this is a terrible, terrible review.

Although its outgoing Taurus sold 6.7 million units in its 21-year run, Ford has never really offered a proper midsize sedan to battle the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, and Toyota Camry — until now.


Ford seems to have done its homework and finally produced a car that can compete with the finest from Japan and Korea.


Ford has always produced competitive products (Focus, Five Hundred), if not class-leading. The Sonata has never been a good car until 2006.

And how can an automotive writer make such a huge mistake? "The Fusion's 3.0-liter Duratec V6 pumps out a healthy 221 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque; decent power, but not enough to beat the Honda Accord at a stoplight showdown." Edited by empowah
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I've defended Edmunds on several occasions, but this is a terrible, terrible review.
Ford has always produced competitive products (Focus, Five Hundred), if not class-leading. The Sonata has never been a good car until 2006.

And how can an automotive writer make such a huge mistake? "The Fusion's 3.0-liter Duratec V6 pumps out a healthy 221 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque; decent power, but not enough to beat the Honda Accord at a stoplight showdown."

[post="8228"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


The sonata was dogsh-1-t until like 2 months ago. Even Chery made better cars than the last Sonata I'd bet. Now, its on top of the world. too bad the Sonata's exterior looks like a marshmallow style Escort on steroids.

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that rear looks like a pulled stretched 98 escort to me.

Edmunds is so terribly biased in their writing tone, I was shocked when they wrote a positive review for the new Impala.

Its also been proven many times before that Edmunds will post more articles on their site with wrong facts than posts I have with bad grammar or spelling. Apparently Toyota is not funneling enough cash over to edmunds.com these days to allow them to hire a student intern to proof spelling in thier articles.

Focus was a C/D 10best choice for like 5 years. Even Consumer Reports loves the Focus. For Edmunds to take a potshot at that car is a little bit like pot calling kettle black. Edmunds has no right to make such 'leading the witness' statements or potshots, considering their journalism level is sophomoric.

Do ANY of the Edmunds staff have any journalistic or auto evaluation cred? At least we know the people int he biff books know cars, even if you disagree with their wiritng style or opinions on subjective matters. Edited by regfootball
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Considering the dozens of recalls on the Focus and the interior that accompanied it's debut, I'd take any other economy car over it (minus the Ion).
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Considering the dozens of recalls on the Focus and the interior that accompanied it's debut, I'd take any other economy car over it (minus the Ion).

[post="8476"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


where've you been? Consumer Reports lists the Focus as like one of the top, if not the, top in reliability. Has for at least 2-3 years now.
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empowah, that sentence you pulled where they use the word "seems" and "finally" is definitely a great example of a writer using tone and diction to really show a bias. It seems? Aren't you the one saying it is competitive? So just say so. Onto the car. It's clearly a very solid effort and will hopefully kick butt in the marketplace and steal from those it really should, Japan Co. This combined with the future MAlibu and Aura should serve a 1-2 punch from the domestics showing those cars what style, design, and quality American is really made of. I don't like the STS mug though. It's almost exactly the same, and is a real shame. Caddy should sue. It's the clincher for the design, if it weren't for that good-looking face, this would be any other high quality sedan. But it's good-looking, different in a sense, while still appearing conservative and well-dressed, and above all it's a solid effort from Ford which should serve to convince a lot of people. Hopefully they've worked over their qaulity demons.
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where've you been?  Consumer Reports lists the Focus as like one of the top, if not the, top in reliability.  Has for at least 2-3 years now.

[post="8527"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


I heard at one time or another that the first or first 2 years the Focus was on the market it was recalled 11 times. Maybe not dozens like I originally said but still way more than acceptable.

I searched the web to get some info. According to Canadian Driver, the Focus was recalled 9 different times in its first year. ConsumerAffairs.com reports that the Focus was the subject of 5 defect investigations in its first 2 years. The majority of the recalls and investigations are pretty major: enhanced risk of fire, wheels falling off, roof pillars not designed correctly, airbags that do not perform their jobs correctly, etc. It's the second most recalled car in U.S. history, behind GM's X-cars.

I should add that Ford has since turned the ship around. Edited by sciguy_0504
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I drove it out in LA a few days ago and can confirm that it is a good car, very balanced and it will be the best Ford has when it comes out.

[post="8694"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Even better than the Mustang?

It's great to see all these positive reviews about the Fusion...this is something Ford badly needs...good buzz.
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The Fusion looks great, it definitely kicks the Malibu's buttocks in terms of styling (and in effect, desirability.) Good job Ford, I just hope people give this car a chance.
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Although its outgoing Taurus sold 6.7 million units in its 21-year run, Ford has never really offered a proper midsize sedan to battle the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, and Toyota Camry — until now. Positioned with neat alliteration between the Focus and the Five Hundred, Ford hopes the Fusion will bridge the long-standing abyss in the company's product lineup.

What kinda tripe is this?

Camry didn't become a true mid-size car until 1992. Accord didn't until '98, and Sonata...well, it's played the catch-up-to-Camcord game for quite a while now. Camcord themselves were sizing up to batle the Taurus. GM and Ford were the builders of actual proper mid-size sedans (Fox LTD, Taurus, A-bodies, early W-bodies). Tempo and Contour were cars sized to battle Camcord back when all were still compacts. While Ford did have a gaping hole in the lineup from 2000-05, let's not act like they were never in the game at all, just because Camcord has set the tone since the early 90s.

This obsession with trying to line up squarely against Camcord is throwing the entire automotive world out of whack, and causing many to write revisionist history.
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where've you been?  Consumer Reports lists the Focus as like one of the top, if not the, top in reliability.  Has for at least 2-3 years now.

[post="8527"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


...yes....recalls or not, and those happened (mostly) when the car was first introduced....the Focus is a world-class little car.

I had an SVT for about a year....and I can't TELL you how well-engineered that car was...and CHEAP too....it was like a poor-man's BMW....no kidding...

I also had a new, '05 Focus rental car back-to-back to a Malibu LS V6 rental car.....(two different cities one day after the other) and believe me...the Focus is a much better driving car than the bigger Malibu....surely not as powerful, but the (still) tight chassis and responsive steering (no electrics here) and GREAT suspension damping made it a pleasure to drive 2.5 hours from Portland to Seattle.

The Malibu we had a day earlier, from Fresno to San Francisco, had TERRIBLE seats and a junky feeling to the suspension. It was my first Malibu drive and I was really disappointed. Even all the (two-tone beige) hard plastic in the Focus looked better than the "sea-of-grey" interior we had in the Malibu.....
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I think the Fusion looks good overall, but I gotta ask one question... Why does the grille look like the razor I nick myself with every morning shaving? Maybe Gillette should be a co-sponsor for its Nascar version... :huh:
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they didnt swipe anything. this corporate face predated Caddys own designs way back to hte Produgy concept car. This is all Ford. the only thing this car stole frontal design cues from is its European counterpart.
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they didnt swipe anything.  this corporate face predated Caddys own designs way back to hte Produgy concept car.  This is all Ford.  the only thing this car stole frontal design cues from is its European counterpart.

[post="11256"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]



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Yup, from 2000.
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