Sunday, April 26, 2015

Technology makes a great car better

2013 Ford Fusion Energi

The all-new Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid will deliver more than 100 MPGe, a miles-per-gallon equivalency metric. Courtesy photo

From page C1 | August 29, 2014 |

Ford’s newest plug-in hybrid is the Fusion Energi. The regular Fusion is a terrific sedan and now, with the Energi system, it is also very efficient. Ford promises great range and terrific economy, and the EPA numbers are there to back it up. But there’s never a free lunch so we had to find out what it is like to drive and if it is a good choice.

When it comes to choosing a Fusion, you have three choices. The first is a regular Fusion that gets as high as 25 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Those are very good numbers right there and seem difficult to improve upon but the Fusion Hybrid does just that with ratings of 47 mpg in the city and 47 mpg on the highway.

As a comparison, a base Toyota Camry with less power gets 2 mpg less on the freeway. The Camry Hybrid gets only 43 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the freeway. That is a big difference, but our car was a different animal. The Fusion Energi is basically a Fusion Hybrid with more batteries so that it can go on electricity alone. Due to the added weight of the batteries, the regular fuel economy drops to 44 mpg in the city and 41 mpg on the freeway.

Lower fuel economy compared to the Fusion Hybrid is one factor that you need to weigh before deciding if it is right for you. The big benefit to the Energi is that it can go up to 21 miles on electricity alone. So if you work less than 21 miles away from home, you could potentially never have to use gas to drive to work. Just plug it in at work and you will be good to go to drive home. Ford says that the Fusion will take only 2.5 hours to charge using 240 volts.

The nice thing is that you also have a gasoline engine as a back up so if you run out of battery, you will not be stuck. In fact with the full tank of gas, the Energi has a range of over 600 miles. And when you are driving in EV mode, the Energi is not slow and will top out at 85 mph on electricity alone.

All of these things would not mean a thing if they were attached to a terrible car. Fortunately, the Fusion is a great car to begin with. It is a roomy interior that is well crafted and rich looking. Our car had tons of gadgets including MyFord Mobile, Sync, MyFord Touch, parking assist where the car parks itself and EV+.

MyFord Mobile smartphone application allows users to monitor charging, receive alerts, find charge stations, plan trips and do more from their smartphones or computers for an effortless transition to an electrified vehicle lifestyle. EV+ is a feature that learns frequent destinations by combining the built-in GPS of Ford SYNC with proprietary software algorithms developed by Ford engineers. As a result, vehicles may deliver more drive time in electric-only mode.

One of the downsides of the Fusion Energi is that the trunk is full of batteries. The standard Fusion trunk can hold 16 cubic feet while the Energi can only hold 8.2. The Energi is also around 600 pounds heavier than the standard Fusion.

The other major negative of the Energi is the price. A base Fusion S starts out at just under $23,000 while the luxurious Titanium model costs $31,000. The Energi Titanium starts out at $41,000 and our car was about $45,000. That is a lot of money that can buy a lot of other cars. Those other cars can’t match what the Energi provides with a good electric range and a solid 600+ mile total range.

The Fusion Energi is a great achievement for Ford. It is a very sophisticated car that benefits from 20 years of research and innovation behind the software and hardware technology it offers, incorporating many of the nearly 500 patents Ford holds in the area of hybrid technology.

This extensive experience shows. The acclaimed Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid powersplit technology — which allows for efficient operation — consists of more than 200 patents alone. It is not right for everyone but it could be just right for some buyers.



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