DETROIT -- The 2006 Ford Fusion mid-sized sedan will carry a base price of $17,995, including shipping charges -- a price that the Ford Division asserts will undercut many of the car's competitors.
The base Fusion is powered by a 160-hp, 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic transmission is optional, but Ford did not release the price of the option.
The Fusion will begin reaching dealerships in September. It marks Ford Division's return to a segment it walked away from with the end of the Contour in 2000. Ford thinks it can sell up to 160,000 Fusions annually.
Standard equipment on the base Fusion includes 16-inch wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, power windows and door locks, cruise control, air conditioning, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and radio with single CD player.
The Fusion will be offered in three trim levels for 2006 -- S, SE and SEL. Buyers of the S model will get only the four-cylinder engine, with either the five-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.
Side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes are available as part of an option package.
Buyers of a Fusion SE or SEL can opt for a 221-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. A Fusion SE with the V-6 will have a base price of $21,275 including shipping, Ford said. A Fusion SEL with the V-6 will be priced less than $22,400, Ford said without being more specific.
The Fusion is one of a slew of new vehicles from Ford Motor Co. based on the Mazda6 platform. Two other vehicles that also use the platform, the Mercury Milan and Lincoln Zephyr, also go on sale this fall.
For the Fusion, engineers widened the platform by about 1.2 inches and lengthened it by about 2.2 inches, with the extra space devoted to rear-seat leg room.
An all-wheel-drive option will likely be added for the second model year. Ford also plans a hybrid-powertrain version of the Fusion in the future. Hybrids use gasoline engines and one or more electric motors to power the wheels.
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