Predicting the 2009 Fusion
By Igor Holas
When Nissan released their 2001 Altima, it took the market by storm. An even bigger storm ensued when the new 2007 Altima was released. Ford hoped the 2006 Fusion would do the same, but after that did not perform to expectations, Ford is stepping up the effort with a redesigned 2009 Fusion that will go on sale early next year. And let me tell you: Ford is aiming high; very high.
Let’s start with the basics – the Fusion was released in 2005 as a 2006 model and has been largely positively received by the press. The sales, however, have not been satisfactory with most months clocking in at a mere twelve to fifteen thousand units sold; while at the same time the Toyota Camry sells most than twice as many units. The core criticisms of the Fusion circled around mediocre engines and interiors – the engines were on par at release, but were quickly outclassed with the 2007 Toyota Camry and 2007 Nissan Altima, and later releases offered more power and better fuel economy. The interior, while handsome to look at, and made of good materials, looks cheap in the base models, and was not always put together properly. Ford is addressing both of these issues, and adding a new exterior and a set of powertrains that will surely surprise many.
On the surface, the 2009 Fusion will sport a new look with a more aggressive front fascia. The three bar grille will be more pronounced and the headlamps will look a little more dynamic. Also new, the headlights will sport projectors – a new trend in the class providing more sophisticated looks and better lighting of the road. The tail end will also sport a new look eliminating the chromed lamps and the blocky design for a more fluid, interesting look. By the way, the picture above is not speculation, but an official sketch leaked from inside Ford a couple months back.
On the inside the Fusion will have an all new interior, eschewing the “brick” stereo and other switchgear vices of current Fords. Instead, the 2009 Fusion will sport an elegant center console with “poke through” switchgear showcased by recent Fords such as the 2008 Focus or 2009 Flex. Overall, the materials, craftsmanship and amenities will all be upgraded, especially in the base models. Of course, the Sync wireless will be added and most likely so will the new generation of Navigation system showcased by the Ford Flex. Additionally, with chassis and suspension tuning and better sound isolation, the new Fusion will be much quieter and more composed in all sorts of driving situations.
Finally, under the hood, Ford will offer five all-new powertrains; two of which are quite exotic. On the bottom, the new Fusion will sport an all new 2.5 liter four-cylinder that will improve power and mileage over the current four-cylinder engine. The second engine will be the much coveted and much-clamored-for 3.5l V6 used in the Taurus and Edge – this engine is both more powerful and more economical than the current V6 offered in the Fusion. The third system offered will be a standard parallel full hybrid with a continuously variable transmission. This will be a brand new system dubbed “Gen II” – which is modeled after the Escape hybrid, but offers more US-sourced technology, better packaging flexibility, and better fuel efficiency. This system will debut with the Fusion and then spread across Ford’s lineup in the US and abroad.
The final two engines are the reason for excitement, however. Ford will offer two Twin Force engines, positioned as alternatives to both the four and the six cylinder engines while delivering excellent mileage. The smaller of the duo will deliver between 170-200 horsepower, and in preliminary testing, is approaching a fuel efficiency rating of 30 miles-per-gallon in the city and 40 miles-per-gallon on the highway. And while the final rating will likely be a bit shy of the nice numbers above, the Fusion with this engine will still deliver mileage in the compact-car territory. The displacement of this smaller Twin Force engine has not been revealed yet, but most likely will be a 1.6 or 1.8 liter. The larger of the Twin Force duo will be a version of the 2.5l four cylinder delivering over 260hp, and over 30 miles per gallon highway.
This far ahead of the November release at the Los Angeles Auto Show, plenty of information about the 2009 Fusion is still unknown or only speculated. However the information known points to a new more modern and sophisticated exterior look, a new better appointed interior and an excellent lineup of engines. And in light of this information, the new Fusion sure looks promising; hopefully consumers will notice this time.
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