Scenic vistas are in full bloom as we ply the backcountry roads throughout rural Quebec, a short two hour drive from Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. It is a beautiful setting, with sweeping blind corners, changing topography and lakeside two-lanes straight out of a travel brochure. This is the setting for my first drive of the 2017 Ford Fusion and in particular the Energi Platinum.
The Ford Fusion family of sedans is all-new for model year 2017. Significant upgrades abound throughout the exterior and interior, with some of the biggest changes coming under the hood.
Fusion Energi highlights a hybrid 2.0L iVCT Atkinson I-4 engine coupled with a high-voltage lithium-ion battery and electric motor. Matched to an electronically-controlled CVT transmission (eCVT), it delivers an electric-only range of 35 km’s and a total combined range of nearly 1,000 km, according to Ford Canada. Plugging in is easy; a fast charge requiring only 2.5 hours to complete using the 240-volt home charging station, or overnight with a standard 110 volt outlet.
Efficient driving is not at issue with this 5-passenger sedan. During my time behind the wheel, and riding in the passenger seat while a second driver takes over, I experience exceptional economy and regenerating battery-power throughout our day long test drive. Power delivery is smooth, with only the occasional balk as we traverse hills near our final stop at Estérel Resort in the Laurentian Mountains. EV mode allows me to choose between electric only driving, gas only or a combination of both. The changeover is seamless during my drive.
Quiet is an understatement when driving the new Fusion. Ford has done their homework in this area and the result of using acoustic side windows is an interior cabin that equals, and in some cases surpasses, several of today’s most expensive midsize sedans.
Ford has also designed a new low-profile rotary gear select dial to engage the transmission. It reminds me of a similar setup in the current era of Jaguar vehicles; minus the super-cool retracting feature found in the Jag, of course. Ford claims there are several reasons for this design change, one being the desire to move the cupholders back in the center console and decrease the risk of spills. It also results in a better design for the center storage compartment. USB ports are easy to access and the armrest is perfectly positioned for my six foot plus frame.
Next-gen SmartGauge technology engages your creative side, making it almost fun to drive with maximum efficiency in mind. The more conscientious you are during acceleration and braking, the more lush the dash will appear as it slowly fills with green leaves and vines. Personally it’s a little to over-the-top for my taste, but then I wouldn’t typically buy a plug-in hybrid sedan, so I am probably not the target market. Hypermilers are more likely to be impressed.
A host of electronic features comes as standard equipment on the Platinum model. This includes adaptive cruise control synced with stop-and-go technology, taking much of the worry out of driving in rush hour traffic. If the Fusion is set on cruise and traffic comes to a complete stop, this feature allows the car to stop, turn off and turn on again as traffic starts to move. Two additional features, Pedestrian Detection and Pre-collision Assist, provide an additional layer of safety for you and those outside the vehicle.
Front seats offer 10-way power, heating and cooling and excellent support all-around, while the rear is equally spacious for up to three occupants. Leather wraps the steering wheel and quilted leather on the seats and door panels is a nice upgrade and a further nod to European-inspired elegance. Satin metal finishes, soft-touch materials and stitched accents on the steering wheel and dash look classic.
Sony provides a dynamic 5.1 surround sound audio experience with standard 12-speakers and 390 watts of power. A crystal-clear display makes navigating the all-in-one system relatively easy. Standard SYNC 3 offers voice-activated navigation. Always improving, it struggles on occasion to comply with my requests for street names and towns while driving in Quebec.
New exterior design elements for 2017 include a restyled front nose and headlights with available LED lighting plus fog lights. A premium grille with unique paint is standard on the Platinum. The overall look is sharp, like a finely-tailored business suit. A round port on the driver’s side in front of the outside mirror and understated badging is your only clue this is a hybrid electric vehicle. Wheels are 17-inch premium luster nickel painted on the Energi Platinum. A rear spoiler adds a little sporty to the elegant design.
Trunk space suffers dramatically in the Fusion Energi and this is one deterrent to buying an electric car that continues to limit desirability. We were successful at placing two medium-sized suitcases in the trunk and a few smaller bags. But adding golf clubs or anything with similar dimensions would be impossible. As battery technology continues to shrink in size, trunk space should improve. But for now, if storage is what you need, Fusion Energi is not your best choice.
The Ford Fusion family includes a total of 12 different variations, ranging from the entry-level “S” model to the top Energi Platinum. Pricing starts at $23,688.00 for the S and peaks at $45,088.00 for the vehicle we test drove in scenic Quebec.
If a midsize sedan is in your future, the 2017 Ford Fusion deserves a place on your test drive list. Ford has come a long way in the past decade and the new Fusion offers continued proof the blue oval company appears headed in the right direction.
2017 Ford Fusion Energi
Trim level: Platinum
Base Price: $45,088.00
Price as tested (before taxes): $47,488.00
Configuration: front-engine, front-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.0L I-4/battery/electric/ eCVT
Power/torque: 188 hp (combined)/ 129 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): regular (53L)
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 2.4 Le (combined gas and EV)/5.4 (combined gas only)
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 4.9 L/100 km (600 km)
Competitors: Chevrolet Volt, Honda Accord Hybrid, Kia Optima Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid
- Excellent fit and finish.
- Elegant exterior shape.
- Roomy interior with nice finishes.
- Engine balks a little under hard acceleration.
- Trunk space is very limited.