By Chris Haak
Late yesterday, Ford revealed its improved and facelifted 2010 Fusion midsize sedan ahead of its upcoming auto show debut. Unlike Nissan, however, Ford provided extensive powertrain details, though no photos or mention of the interior upgrades that we are also expecting this car to feature.
The car’s new front end design is successful to my eyes, with a more modern and less conservative appearance than the current car’s. The three-bar grille is more prominent, the headlights more detailed and swept back, and the lower grille opening below the bumper far more interesting, taking a shape that will begin the transition of Ford’s North American design language to something more akin to Ford’s European language that will be featured in upcoming products such as the Fiesta subcompact, as well as the other small European models making their way across the Atlantic in the next few years.
Absent any news about the interior, the biggest news aside from the front end design improvements at this point are nearly all under the hood, and it’s nearly all good news. Six-speed transmissions are now standard across the board (though the manual transmission four cylinder model is not mentioned in the press release, so we’re hoping it has not been discontinued). The previous base engine, a 2.3 liter four cylinder, has been replaced by the 175 horsepower 2.5 liter four cylinder found in the 2009 Escape/Mariner twins. The previous top engine, the 3.0 liter Duratec V6, has been upgraded from 221 to 240 horsepower (now matching the 3.0 liter V6′s output in – you guessed it – the Escape/Mariner twins.) There is a new top engine in the Fusion Sport model, the 263 horsepower 3.5 liter V6 shared with the Taurus/Sable twins. While there was no mention at this point of the EcoBoost engines, there will likely be both a four cylinder and V6 EcoBoost variant of the Fusion launched at some point. According to our own Igor Holas’ sources, the I4 EcoBoost will produce in the neighborhood of 260 horsepower, and the V6 EcoBoost will produce over 300 horsepower, while returning similar fuel economy to the naturally aspirated powertrains. The conventional V6 and I4 engines will see between a six and ten percent fuel economy improvement over 2009 models.
Ford also shared some details on the Fusion/Milan Hybrid models. Both cars will feature 2.5 liter four cylinders and a similar hybrid drivetrain to the Escape/Mariner, and Ford has promised that the Fusion and Milan Hybrids will surpass the fuel economy of the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Ford also showed photos of the new instrument panel, dubbed SmartGauge, from the Fusion Hybrid, which flanks a traditional analog speedometer with a high-resolution color LCD display on either side. The LCD displays provide hybrid battery status, fuel economy calculations, and – in a gimmicky touch – an animation of growing leaves and vines to “reward” efficient driving. Ford didn’t say whether the animation changes to melting icecaps and “ozone alert” warnings when driving less-than-efficiently.
As long as earlier rumors about a more upscale interior with a better design and improved materials pan out (spy photos have shown an angular center stack, similar in shape to the current car’s, but with a large available LCD screen and no one-size-fits-all radio head unit), and Ford is able to hold the line on price increases, the 2010 Fusion joins a suddenly very credible roster of midsize car entries, including the Mazda6, Chevrolet Malibu, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, and Honda Accord. The EcoBoost models might even get the attention of enthusiast buyers who need four doors and a reasonable price.
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