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http://searchchicago.suntimes.com/autos/research/siegel/513758,srch-auto-IS081707.article

Ford adds all-wheel drive to Fusion
August 17, 2007
BY IRA SIEGEL Daily Southtown Auto Reporter

Ford is counting on its Fusion sedan to breathe new life and a fresh attitude into the competitive mid-size sedan segment. In the Ford lineup, Fusion fits between the Focus and Five Hundred (soon-to-be Taurus).

With the competition in mind, Fusion has to be both pleasing to the eye and deliver a truly refined, yet, spirited ride. I think Ford has met those objectives well.
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The Ford Fusion has a base price of $17,995.

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Ford Fusion

2007 Ford Fusion SEL V-6 AWD

Engine: 3.0-liter (221 hp) V-6

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Drive type: AWD

Fuel economy: 19 city/26 highway

Base price: $23,825

As tested: $28,820 (including $700 for destination)

Web site: www.fordvehicles.com

From a styling standpoint, the Fusion looks smart and elegant. Fusion’s good looks were inspired by the Ford 427 concept car that received auto show acclaim.

Up front, I like Fusion’s strong, muscular three-bar grille (borrowed from the 427) that spans across the multi-element projector-beam headlamps. Overall, the Fusion features a bold, edgy theme that is quite attractive.

Fusion is available in three trim levels: S, SE and SEL. The Fusion S, with a starting price of around $18,000, features a 160-horsepower 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic is optional.

Included in the Fusion S is standard air conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control, keyless entry, split-folding rear seats, and a CD stereo with an auxiliary input jack for MP3 players.

The SE adds alloy wheels, fog lamps, six-way power driver seat, an upgraded stereo with an in-dash CD changer, and a fold-down front passenger seat.

The top-of-the-line Fusion SEL adds 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control, heated outside mirrors with puddle lamps, and an analog clock on the instrument panel.

Interestingly, both SE and SEL models can be had with the base four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission. This combination delivers 23/31 mpg city/highway.

For those wanting better acceleration and more power for passing, a 221-horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 is available. The V-6 is only offered in SE and SEL models and comes mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. This combination nets a fuel economy rating of 20/28 mpg.

The new for 2007 all-wheel drive (AWD) option is only available on V-6 models. Fusion’s AWD system was tuned with an emphasis toward driving performance while also offering confident all-weather driving.

The optional AWD system found in my 2007 Fusion SEL V-6 tester was impressive and imperceptible. AWD gives the Fusion more confidence for foul-weather driving and enhances the spirited performance through twisty sections of road.

Fusions without AWD send power to the front wheels. But regardless of which version you choose, Fusion is both agile and athletic. That’s because Fusion’s platform was derived from a modified version of the likable Mazda 6.

My only complaint regarding the running gear is that anti-lock brakes, which I think should be standard on SE and SEL models, are optional across the line.

Fusion’s interior is surprisingly roomy for tall passengers. There’s adequate legroom both in front and in back. In addition to carrying people in comfort, Fusion is capable of making quick work of cargo. The roomy, 15.8-cubic-foot trunk boasts a flat load floor and low liftover height.

The rear seats feature a standard 60/40 split and fold-flat function with spring assist, allowing pass-through access to handle long items and provide extra storage space. What’s more, the ability to handle extra-long items has been increased for 2007 in the SE and the SEL, where a fold-down front seat back is now standard.

Fusion’s interior offers a choice of carbon graphite, wood or piano black accents. Options include anti-lock brakes, heated front seats, leather trim, a DVD-based navigation system, and an upgraded audio system. Our Fusion SEL V-6 AWD tester loaded with options carried a price tag hovering close to $29k.

Those shopping the mid-size sedan segment should definitely put Fusion on their list of must drives. I’m sure that those who actually do take Fusion for a spin will be pleasantly surprised.
 
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