2013 Ford Fusion gets mixed review from Consumer Reports
All three Fusions that were tested “proved enjoyable, balanced, and predictable at their handling limits,” Consumer Reports said.
Photo credit: FORD
The 2013 Ford Fusion mid-sized sedan won praise for its handling and sportiness from Consumer Reports, but the magazine's automotive experts faulted the car for poor fit and finish and fuel economy that falls well short of claims on the window sticker.
The magazine said today that other prominent gripes -- namely the MyFord Touch infotainment and controls system -- also kept the new Fusion out of the top of its mid-sized sedan ratings.
Consumer Reports said it bought and tested three versions of the Fusion: an SE model with a 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, an SE Hybrid and a high-end Titanium model with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine.
The magazine said the Fusion "clings to corners, with quick, decisive turn-in response and well-controlled body lean" and the steering is "ideally weighted, with reassuring road feel."
All three Fusions that were tested "proved enjoyable, balanced, and predictable at their handling limits," Consumer Reports said.
The Titanium version, with slightly sharper handling, is the best-handling mid-sized sedan the magazine has tested, although the Titanium model scored lower overall than some other high-end mid-sized sedans.
"The Hybrid's powertrain is very impressive. It's slick and refined and delivers competitive acceleration. Plus, it squeezes out an eye-popping 39 mpg overall -- the best fuel economy [Consumer Reports] has measured in a mid-sized sedan," it said.
The 2013 Fusion's MyFord Touch infotainment and controls system -- an option on midtrim Fusions and standard in high-trim Titanium models -- is "needlessly complicated and finicky to use," Consumer Reports says.
But the Fusion Hybrid's fuel economy is considerably less than the EPA test results of 47 mpg overall, city and combined, the magazine noted.
Ford, facing criticism from consumers and others for the fuel-economy performance on some of its models, said earlier this month the Environmental Protection Agency may change its test procedures for calculating the fuel-efficiency of hybrids.
"All versions of the Fusion provide a composed, civilized ride that's as good as that of some cars costing twice as much. We wish the Fusion's EcoBoost engines better complemented its dynamic abilities," Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports, said in a statement.
Ford's two EcoBoost, turbocharged four-cylinder engines fall short in acceleration and fuel economy compared with the rival Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry, the magazine said.
"The 1.6-liter turbocharged four provides decent performance overall but needs to work hard and sounds gruff when revved," the magazine said. "The larger 2.0-liter turbocharged four delivers ample power but lacks the creamy smoothness of competing V-6s while also being slower and less efficient."
The magazine also had more complaints with the Fusion's MyFord Touch infotainment and controls system, which controls audio, climate and communications functions.
The feature -- optional in midtrim Fusions and standard in high-trim Titanium models -- is "needlessly complicated and finicky to use," the magazine said.
The system, also available on other Ford Motor Co. models, has been widely criticized by Consumer Reports, other publications and market research firms such as J. D. Power and Associates.
It also has resulted in a drop in Ford's standings in third-party quality surveys.
Ford has updated the software on the system to repair glitches and has vowed to continue improving the feature.
'A little snug'
The magazine found the Fusion's cabin space "a little snug," compromising the driving position and rear-seat room.
Consumer Reports said it acquired its three Fusion models soon after the car went on sale and discovered several poor-fitting body and trim components.
"The Fusion's interior looks nice and has high-quality materials but we're surprised at the number of fit-and-finish flaws we've found, especially in our pricey Titanium version," Fisher said. "Hopefully, Ford will sort out these flaws soon."
The redesigned 2013 Fusion went on sale in October. The Fusion was the seventh best-selling car in the United States last year with sales of 241,263.
Last week, Ford CEO Alan Mulally told the Automotive News World Congress the company needed to improve new-vehicle launches after several high-profile recalls of redesigned models, including the 2013 Fusion.
"Fusion is delivering beyond expectations with great sales, strong positive customer feedback, and high critical acclaim in the press," Ford said today in a statement. "We also know key drivers for purchase of Fusion are leading fuel economy, excellent driving dynamics and great looks … and in many respects, Consumer Reports seems to agree. On other areas in the report, we continually work to make our products better and take seriously the feedback provided."
The top-scoring mid-sized sedans in Consumer Reports' road tests are now the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Toyota Camry, Chevrolet Malibu, Fusion, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima and Subaru Legacy. All but the Malibu and Fusion are recommended by the magazine.
Among high-end mid-sized family sedans, equipped with V-6, turbocharged or hybrid powertrains, the magazine's top-scoring models are the Camry hybrid, Camry, Accord, Sonata, Legacy, Fusion hybrid, Altima, and Optima. All but the Sonata and Fusion are recommended.
The magazine said it is not recommending the new Fusion because it is too new to have sufficient reliability data.
Results of the Fusion test will be published in the magazine's March issue.
Separately, the magazine said it tested the Ford Focus Electric and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Along with the Nissan Leaf, they are the first widely available, all-electric vehicles on sale in the United States.
The magazine said the Focus Electric builds on the "great handling and refinement of the conventional Focus and adds instant, silent power and the second best fuel efficiency Consumer Reports has recorded the equivalent of 107 mpg (or 3.18 miles per kilowatt-hour)."
"The Focus Electric proves that electric cars can be both super-efficient and a lot of fun to drive," Fisher said in a statement.
The Focus Electric is also hampered by a cramped rear seat and frustrating MyFord Touch controls, and a large, lithium ion battery pack that consumes much of the car's "modest cargo space."
The magazine said the smaller i-MiEV squeezed out the equivalent of 111 mpg overall or 3.28 miles per kWh -- the most energy-efficient car Consumer Reports has tested.
"But in almost every other way, the i-MiEV lives up to the lowest expectations you might have of an electric car," Consumer Reports said. "It's slow, chintzy, cramped, and so far off the mark that testers often felt it was closer to being a glorified golf cart than an actual car."
"The Focus Electric costs about $41,000, compared with $33,630 for the i-MiEV, it's definitely the better choice for consumers who want to go gas free. (Both prices are before a $7500 federal tax credit, and other state incentives may apply. There are also inexpensive lease deals for the Focus.)
"Neither vehicle is recommended. Both are too new for Consumer Reports to have sufficient reliability data for them. And the i-MiEV scores too low in our tests."
The magazine also tested Ford's C-Max and found it to be "an appealing hybrid hatchback that packs a lot of room within its compact size.
"Consumer Reports' measured fuel economy is 37 mpg overall," the magazine said. "That's impressive but falls far below the EPA's stated combined city and highway of 47 mpg."
The magazine said the C-Max can't match the rival Prius V's 41-mpg overall fuel economy or generous interior space.
"But the Ford is quieter and much more enjoyable to drive. Handling is agile, with quick and ideally weighted steering, and it rides very comfortably," the magazine said. "Like other Fords, the optional MyFord Touch system is frustrating, but even the standard radio controls are overcomplicated."
The C-Max is rated just below the Mazda5 at the top of Consumer Reports' overall ratings for small wagons, but is too new for the magazine to have compiled reliability data to recommend it.
You can reach David Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org.