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http://www.freep.com/money/autoreviews/phelan15e_20050915.htm

MARK PHELAN: Fusion of comfort, interior style

Ford's midsize sedan can rival class leaders like Camry, Accord

September 15, 2005

BY MARK PHELAN
FREE PRESS COLUMNIST

LOS ANGELES -- The 2006 Ford Fusion is a pretty good midsize sedan, which puts it light years ahead of anything Ford has done in 10 years.

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The automaker virtually dismissed the midsize car market for most of the last decade. The 1996 redesign of the Taurus was a complete failure, and the company's management magnified the mistake by letting the car age gracelessly as Ford put all its resources into its pickups and SUVs, as well as luxury models for its Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo brands.

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Ford is back in the midsize car market with its new 2006 Fusion. The vehicle has plenty of good features, including a bold grille and a functional, stylish interior. Other virtues include a $17,145 base price for a four-cylinder S model with a manual transmission.
Ford's paying for those decisions now with steadily falling market share.

The attractive, quiet and comfortable Fusion gives Ford a car that can compete with class leaders like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, and I'd rank it a step above models such as the Chevrolet Malibu, Dodge Stratus, Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Altima.

While it's a good car, there's nothing so arresting about the Fusion that the car demands attention. It lacks the looks and performance that have made the Ford Mustang, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger runaway hits.

Anybody who takes a test drive in one will probably be pleased with its excellent interior and comfort, and 300-odd miles over the Labor Day weekend in the Los Angeles area convinced me that the Fusion should keep its owners happy in the long run.

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