During the opening of the 2009 Denver Auto Show I reported on the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Ford’s plans to announce 4 all-new electrified vehicles by 2012. Today, I went for a spin in the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid with Ford Hybrid Engineer David Gabriel. The goal of this Test Drive event was to see if we could achieve the much publicized 41 mpg in the city. 

Before we get there, lets go over the some of the Fusion’s features. The Fusion is equipped with the 2.5-liter Atkinson Cycle I-4 Engine that produces 191 net horsepower (a combination of the gas and electric motor) and an Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (eCVT).  The 70-Kilowatt Electric Traction Motor allows the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid to travel at speeds up to 47 mph in electric vehicle (EV) mode giving it a possible driving range of 700 or more miles on a single tank. Besides the mechanical features, the Fusion Hybrid is also equipped with SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide, Reverse Sensing System with rearview camera and 110-volt inverter with a household style plug.

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid SmartGauge with EcoGuide-- Shows the green vines growing to symbolize the driving economy.

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid SmartGauge with EcoGuide-- Shows the green vines growing to symbolize the driving economy.

The looming question on everyone’s mind—How did it drive? The first thing you have to get used to with most of the new hybrid vehicles is that it doesn’t make the normal engine noises when you turn the key. To help with this, Ford has added a green light in the lower right of the instrument cluster that lets the driver know the vehicle is ready to go. Driving the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is pretty much like driving the regular I-4 powered Ford Fusion. The biggest difference is the SmartGauge™ with EcoGuide, which gives you an apple like interactive interface that informs you on your driving economy, EV power range, historical graphs, trip information and more. In addition, it has a cute gauge that has vines that grown and become greener as you drive more economically and die off and become less plentiful when you are aggressive with the throttle.

The actual driving is basically like driving a normal passenger car, which could be the best compliment you could give any hybrid vehicle. The Fusion Hybrid is well mannered, though I prefer a sportier suspension, and handled the city surface streets (and pot holes) with four people in the car without any discomfort. Since the test drive was in Lakewood, Colorado (a suburb of Denver) the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid did have hills to contend with, which means that the hybrid has to switch back and forth between the gas and electric mode quite often—at least if you want to achieve the best mileage. However, the good news is, with the new Fusion hybrid system the change over from the electric to gas motor is almost undetectable. If you are really paying attention you might feel a little vibration through the pedals or the floor as the engine starts up again.  The thing consumers will have to get used to is that the EV mode is really a supplement and not a means of sustained driving. The chance that you will be able to run in fully electric mode for any sustained amount of time is minimal.

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid about to depart with 4 passengers on-board.

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid about to depart with 4 passengers on-board.

On my 7-mile in-town test drive session, I was able to achieve 44.6 mpg with four adult passengers in the car (including myself). Since I was trying to achieve the 41 mpg I did drive the Fusion pretty gingerly on this 7-mile loop and I caught every red light to boot. My overall perception is that trying to get good gas mileage could be come a mental exercise or challenge for the drivers of the future. Instead of comparing how fast you got somewhere you might compare how many miles per gallon you got driving cross-town. With the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid SmartGauge™ system you might not ever become bored of trying to best your last driving performance. After all, if you aren’t interested, you can always put your foot to the floor and get the mileage you get.  

Bottom-line: I am very impressed; the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid is quiet, has good power when you do put your foot down and is available with all the creature comforts. My hunch is that the average consumer will see miles per gallon averages in the city that are close to the advertised mpg average, but as with all vehicles it will be up to the driver to monitor their driving style if they want to achieve the best mileage. That being said, I think people will get used to achieving more than 10 mpg better than the base I-4 Ford Fusion in the city and whether they end up achieving 35 or 45 mpg, they will be happy to see the fuel savings where it counts—their pocketbook. 

A special thank you to Robert Liedel, owner of Lakewood Fordland, and Paul Witt, Direct Impact for Ford, for hosting this event and making it possible to experience the new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. 

 

We invite you to stick around and check out our other EV and Hybrid stories right here at Allsmallcars.com. You can also roll over to our partner site AllCarsElectric.com for more EV news, reviews and more.