This city traffic is heavy and the parking space is tight. Like Luke Skywalker, I listen to “The Force” and I let go of the steering wheel. This 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid then parks itself. With Active Park Assist it backs into the city parking space, spinning the steering wheel as it makes a perfect parallel park and while I sit hands-free. I watch on the 8-inch display as the rear camera captures the action. I do have to remember to work the brakes. If I get mesmerized with the automatic parking and forget to brake, the car will hit the car behind it.
This new 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid is impressive to drive. It delivers 47 miles per gallon (MPG) not only on the highway, but also on city streets. This best-in-class MPG is the result of a new drive system, improved internal software, and a new Ford lithium-ion battery pack. This Fusion Hybrid assists me in a number of ways from parking to safety. When I touch the voice button, the conversation between car and me is natural. For example, I touch the voice button on the steering wheel and say “navigation destination California.” The car replies, I then say “333 Battery Street San Francisco.” I’m understood the first time, with no training. The destination correctly displays on the navigation map and I hear turn-by-turn directions while I drive. I don’t listen to endless menus; I don’t touch the screen. No “I’m sorry, I did not understand you.”
In busy city parking, it did take three tries to find a spot for Park Assist. The first time, as city taxis squeezed by, Ford’s Active Park Assist decided that it did not have enough room to maneuver. As you first drive by a space, it decides if it has 1.2 times the car length, then displays that it’s ready to park. The second time, as I was lining-up my assisted parallel park, a delivery van swooped in and stole the spot. Unlike Luke in Star Wars, I was unarmed to deal with those from the Dark Side.
The new 2013 Ford Fusion family is loaded with telematics and safety features to make life easier for us in tight spots and intense traffic. The following options are available in Ford’s Driver Assist Technology.
- Active Park Assist
- Lane-Keeping Aid
- Lane Departure Warning
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- Blind Spot Indicator
- Rear Camera
- Collision Alert
- Driver Alert
Classic styling, smooth driving, and excellent fuel economy come together in this new five-passenger midsized sedan. This new Fusion Hybrid beats its toughest competitor, the Toyota Camry Hybrid, in three ways: telematics, better MPG, and a drop-down 60/40 back seat for more cargo.
The Fusion Hybrid starts at $27,200 delivering 47 MPG, a $6,000 premium over the least expensive Fusion that delivers 26 MPG. The Hybrid will save many drivers 150 gallons of gasoline annually, which is worth $600 annually where I live. At this meeting, most of the taxis we see are hybrid. Taxis are driven 90,000 miles a year in San Francisco, paying for the Hybrid advantage in one year, or two when battery packs are changed more frequently.
As I drive, the EV display stays blue, showing that I am only using the electric motor while the engine stays off. Under perfect conditions, I could stay in electric mode for a mile going as fast as 62 miles per hour (mph). Conditions aren’t perfect, as a classic San Francisco hill approaches. The Fusion Hybrids electric motors and 2L engine work together to get me up the steep hill with ease using a combined 188 hp.
For the Fusion Hybrid and Energi, Ford has built improved battery packs using Sanyo lithium-ion prismatic cells. This Hybrid has 1.4 kW pack and two electric motors built by Toshiba in Houston, Texas. The 88kW traction motor moves the vehicle. The 60kW motor acts as a generator, capture excess electricity while driving and braking, and storing the energy in the battery pack. Seventy on-board computers and millions of lines of software handle everything. I just drive.
In the Fusion Hybrid, the back seat can be lowered for more cargo like work projects, school supplies, and golf clubs. In most hybrids, such as the Camry and Civic, the back seat cannot be lowered. The Fusion cargo flexibility is imperfect due to a large hump for the lithium batteries. Good enough for skis or lumber, but not for mountain bikes.
My test drive hybrid included a luxury package interior, SYNCH and navigation system with 8-inch LDC, and the Driver Assist Package discussed in this article. Loaded with extras, this hybrid cost $35,265.
New Fusion Family Shows That Ford Listens to Its Customers
In addition to test-driving several Fusion models, I join Ford’s Chief Technical Officer Paul Mascarenas and key members of Ford’s research, technology, and engineering teams such as Chuck Gray, Chief Engineer, Electrification, and Jim Buczkowski, Henry Ford Technical Fellow. Ford is advancing in several fronts:
- Customer Choice – offering vehicles with drive systems from gasoline engine only to electric.
- Driver Assistance – proving the driver with telematics and safety assistance to improve navigation, suddenly stopped traffic, lane drifting, you name it.
- Intelligent mobility – with help from cloud services, you can start planning your trip and selecting your music on your iPad, have all that move with you into the Fusion, and then take that with you on your Droid when you arrive at the next stop.
- Fuel economy – new generation drive systems that allow drivers to go further on a tank of gas and/or electric-charge instead of petroleum fueling.
The 2013 Ford Fusion is available in five drive systems to meet customer’s mileage, cost, and driving preferences:
- EcoBoost 1.6L Automatic Transmission
- EcoBoost 1.6L Manual Transmission
- All-Wheel Drive EcoBoost 2.0L
- Energi Plug-in Hybrid
The new Ford Fusion gives car owners unprecedented choice in powertrains and fuel economy. The Ford Fusion can be offered with an efficient EcoBoost engine or as a hybrid with better mileage than any midsized sedan or as a plug-in hybrid that allows many trips to use zero gasoline.
Fusion Delivers a Beautiful Midsized Sedan
Fusion brings the broadest selection of fuel-efficient powertrains in the midsize car segment. It offers hybrid and plug-in hybrid alternatives, a pair of EcoBoost™ four-cylinder engines, a normally aspirated four-cylinder engine, an automatic start stop system to shut off the engine at stationary idle, front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive (AWD) applications, and a choice between automatic and manually shifted six-speed transmissions. Choices include:
- 1.6-liter EcoBoost: 25-mpg city, 37-mpg highway, 29 mpg combined
- 2.0-liter EcoBoost: 22-mpg city, 33-mpg highway, 26 mpg combined
- 2.5-liter: 22-mpg city, 34-mpg highway, 26 mpg combined
Mileage can be improved with the $295 optional Auto Start-Stop system, which smoothly shuts off engine power when the car is stopped and seamlessly restarts as the driver releases the brake pedal. This feature typically improves fuel efficiency by 3.5 percent, but could improve mileage by 10 percent in heavy stop-go traffic.
The 1.6-liter EcoBoost outperforms many larger 6-cylinder engines with non-hybrid fuel efficiency of 26 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway, 32 mpg combined. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine – paired with a paddle-shifted six-speed SelectShift Automatic™ transmission, available 19-inch wheels and tires, and all-wheel drive with the ability to send additional torque to the rear – is the Fusion performance option.
The Fusion has more cargo flexibility than the Hybrid, which reduces trunk size to make room for the lithium-battery pack. If you often need lots of cargo flexibility, then the Toyota Prius and Ford C-MAX offerings may be the better choice. For occasional cargo expansion, Ford with its smaller lithium batteries gives you the lowered backseat flexibility missing in Toyota and other hybrid sedans. The Camry Hybrid does include a smaller emergency spare tire. Like many hybrid and electric cars, the Fusion Hybrid has no spare. Get a flat and call AAA or other service.
Fusion All-Wheel Drive
For the first time, Ford’s Driver Assist Technology is available in an all-wheel drive (AWD). Depending on road conditions, appropriate power is delivered to each wheel, unlike the front wheel drive of the other 2013 Fusion models. If you live in an area where those 100-year storms now seem to hit every other year, then AWD may improve safety and handling in the rain, ice, and snow. AWD is only available with a 2L engine, and not in the hybrid and plug-in hybrid models. The Fusion AWD delivers 22-mpg city, 31 highway, and 25 combined.
Although Ford once led our Best AWD List with the Ford Escape Hybrid, now discontinued, it falls behind Subaru and Audi in AWD mileage. Ford has been focused on achieving major advancements in other areas such as big mileage gains with EcoBoost engines and electric drive systems, telematics, and flexible manufacturing efficiency. Although Ford does not make AWD available on any hybrid or electric car, hybrids and plug-in hybrids are coming from Audi, BMW, Tesla, and Mitsubishi.
Arriving this fall, Fusion Energi is anticipated to deliver more than 100 MPGe, a mile per gallon equivalency metric for electrified vehicles. This is 8 MPGe more than the Chevrolet Volt and 13 MPGe more than the projected efficiency of the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid model. Many Volt owners tell me that in real world driving their first 40 miles are electric mode before the gasoline engine engages.
The Fusion Energi is expected to deliver 20 miles in electric mode using a 7.5kW Ford battery back with 76 Sanyo cells. The average American drives 4 trips daily with 40-miles per total. City streets and stop-go freeway are much of that driving. The Energi will support Level One and Level Two charging. Go fast, or use most of the lithium battery storage and the Energi drives like a hybrid the same two electric motors and 2L, 4-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine working together. An electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (eCVT) helps fuel economy.
We will learn more about electric range, motor and battery specs as Ford starts Energi sales in early 2013. Ford is starting with sales of the Ford Focus Electric and then the Ford C-Max Energi.
Driver Assist Technology – Ford’s Telematics
The 2013 Fusion offers an unprecedented portfolio of driver assistance and convenience technologies based on sensors, cameras and radar that enable the car to see and respond. Fusion can help drivers maintain proper lane position, adjust vehicle speed to changing traffic conditions, identify suitable parking spaces and help park, even aiding drivers backing out of parking space where visibility is obstructed. Specific technologies include:
Lane Keeping System: 3 elements to help a driver maintain proper lane position. Using a small, forward-facing camera behind the inside rearview mirror, the system “looks” down the road, monitoring lane lines to determine that the car is on course. The system will alert a driver if drowsiness or erratic lane keeping is detected. The second element warns a driver with a steering wheel vibration if the Fusion drifts too close to lane markings. Finally, lane-keeping aid will actually apply pressure on the steering to help bring the car back into proper lane position.
Adaptive cruise control: Using forward-looking radar, this system “looks” down the road when activated, slowing the Fusion when slower traffic is detected ahead. Adaptive cruise control enables collision warning with brake support to help slow the car if the potential of a crash is detected.
Active park assist: Employing sensors, this technology can identify a suitable parallel parking space, calculate the trajectory and steer the car to properly position it within the spot. All a driver need do is operate accelerator and brake pedals.
Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) with cross-traffic alert: Sensors in both Fusion rear quarter-panels are able to detect traffic in a driver’s blind spot, providing both audible and visual warnings if traffic – unseen by the driver – is detected. BLIS technology enables cross-traffic alert, warning the driver of oncoming traffic when backing out of a parking space with obstructed views.
Fusion is designed with customer safety in mind. Engineers increased its body strength by 10 percent, using more high-strength steels such as boron, and added dual first-row knee airbags and adaptive front airbags that vent and tether to conform to a specific occupant’s size, position and seatbelt usage.
The new Fusion offers the latest iteration of Ford’s SYNC® communications and entertainment system, which enables voice-activated communication through a driver’s mobile phone and interaction with the car’s audio system. Nuance is the company behind Ford’s voice technology, as well as the Apple iPhone Siri natural language interface, and Dragon Speech Recognition that I used on my Mac to dictate part of this article.
More Lithium Batteries, Less Rare Earths
There is concern that as hybrid and electric cars make us less dependent on oil from unstable and hostile countries, we become more dependent on rare earth elements from China. Among the rare earth metals used in nickel-metal-hydride batteries are neodymium, cerium, lanthanum and praseodymium, none of which are used in the new lithium-ion batteries which are standard on all new Ford hybrid and electric cars.
Additionally, Ford has reduced its use of dysprosium by approximately 50 percent in magnets employed in the Ford electric motors. Dysprosium is the most expensive rare earth metal used in Ford vehicles. This reduction is the result of a new diffusion process that is used in the magnet manufacturing process.
The new 2013 Ford Fusion Family gives customers a wide choice in fuel economy, electric drive, telematics and safety.