When you’ve got a top-five mid-size sedan in your fleet – like the Blue Oval does with the Fusion – you’ve got to take extra care when revising any of the details that have made it such a popular option with bread-and-butter four-door buyers.
By combining affordability, style, and one of the most versatile under-hood options list in its segment, the Fusion has managed to stay within striking distance of heavyweights like the Toyota Corolla, the Nissan Almera, and the Honda Accord while outpacing its domestic rival, the Chevrolet Cruze. For 2016, a series of updates have been implemented to give the new Ford Fusion a performance edge it’s been lacking, as well improve on the technologies it has to offer family shoppers. For this review, I’ll revisit the 2014 model.
First Impressions Count
To look at it, you’d be hard pressed to spot the differences between this 2014 Ford Fusion and the model replacing it. Squint and you’ll see the tweaked grille, and if you look a little harder you’ll notice new wheels and halogen lighting up front. It gets a little easier once you open the door and slide behind the wheel, as Ford has kitted the car’s center stack design to seamlessly keep at eye level. Then there’s the presence of that SYNC 2 infotainment system with sound from Sony, which offers a more intuitive interface compared to the previous iteration that had a reputation for confounding users with slower than average response times.
In the case of the mid-size Fusion it’s the higher-quality leather (over what you’d find in this year’s range-topper) that stands out the most, although you also get the full whammy of the sedan’s available packages when spec’ing the car in Platinum form, as well as a few telltale flourishes on the outside of the vehicle.
As with all petrol-only versions of the Fusion, this model is equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission and also offers the unique choice between front-wheel and all-wheel drive. Only the Subaru Legacy provides mid-size all-wheel drive outside a Ford showroom. Power delivery is smooth from the 1.5-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost mill, and handling is good, if not quite as sharp as what’s been promised by the Sport’s trick suspension setup. This is premium car power and handling in a package that costs much less than a similarly-capable BMW or Audi, and it’s a bold move from Ford to attract customers who may have never before considered the brand.
With a starting price of under R419 000, a ceiling of R433 900 for a 2.0l, and a shockingly modest R458 220 ask for the Trend Pack kit, the Ford Fusion spans almost every conceivable mid-size sedan niche. It also happens to one of the better-looking, and rewarding to drive members of its peer group. The refreshed version of the Fusion demonstrates just how blurry the line has become between the luxury world and the rest of the market, and how much everyday car buyers stand to benefit as the gap between features, performance, and value continues to narrow.