Ford just took the wraps off three streamlined new 2013 Fusions, including a head-turning plug-in hybrid it claims can do 100 MPGe, or “miles per gallon gasoline equivalent,” a way of quantifying performance when measuring electricity in lieu of traditional fuel. The other two vehicles are equally impressive: a regular gasoline version Ford says will deliver 37 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg in the city (beating all other current non-hybrid contenders), and a straightforward hybrid that’ll do 44 mpg on the highway and 47 mpg in the city (a significant step up from the 2012 Fusion hybrid’s 36 mpg highway, 41 mpg city).
Let’s talk about the hybrid plug-in, which Ford calls a “Fusion Energi.” That 100 MPGe is 8 MPGe more than Chevrolet’s Volt, claims Ford, and “more than the projected efficiency of the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid model.” If that number proves realistic in independent tests, it’ll be impressive indeed (and without offending our aesthetic sensibilities, like 2010’s X-Prize winning but extremely fugly-looking Very Light Car No. 98, the first “consumer friendly” vehicle to top 100 mpg, though it did so running on E85, a gasoline-ethanol blend).
Another interesting development: All three Fusions run on 4-cylinder engines ranging from a 1.6-liter EcoBoost (179 horsepower) or 2.0-liter EcoBoost (237 horsepower — this one replaces the V6) to two 2.0-liter naturally aspirated hybrid versions to a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated version (170 horsepower). Fords says the engines come with automatic start-stop systems (the engine powers off at stops, then turns on again when the brake pedal’s released, which Ford says reduces fuel consumptions and emissions “by approximately 3.5 percent”), front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive and will be available with both manual six-speed or automatic transmissions.
The new Fusions will also include Ford’s “Lane Keeping” system tech, Ford SYNC (the company’s voice recognition system), blind spot checking, the MyFord Touch entertainment system, adaptive cruise control and active park assist (for parallel parking).
And just look at the thing in picture (up top) — Ford swapped out the three-bar blade-style front grille on its older model Fusions for something that looks suspiciously like the nose of an Aston Martin (though retaining the pronounced lower side lights, which makes the front end look a little stacked).
Ford says it’s also improved safety standards, increasing overall vehicle body strength by 10% through the increased use of high-strength steels like boron. And the company’s including size- and shape-friendlier airbag tech, adding dual first-row knee airbags as well as frontside airbags that adapt to each occupant’s size and position by modulating the way the bags vent and tether.