The town of Baker sits like a wart on the side of the I-15, somewhere in the desolation between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. A bizarre bastion of fast-food consumerism and price-gouged gasoline, it exists only as a way station for those optimistically heading to the City of Sin, or disillusioned, returning to the City of Angles.
Most years, it's my one and only stop, a quick tank top-off before the final push. This year, it's my third. One of the stops was a nap. I am not well.
Struck by some sort of plague best described by the catchall “flu-like symptoms,” there was literally nothing I wanted to do less than drive 4 hours to Las Vegas. Alas, I had no choice. With far-flung friends arriving that night at McCarran, not to mention the extensive coverage of CES I’d agreed to, trek I must.
Usually my faithful companion for this yearly pilgrimage is my aging SVT Focus. This year, in what can only be described as luck, (or perhaps prescient planning), I had arranged to review a top-of-the-line 2013 Ford Fusion “coincidentally” the same week as CES.
The Fusion is considered a “mid-sized” car, though “mid-sized” for this car is like calling Fat Albert “husky.” For example, it’s only 4 inches shorter and 3 inches narrower than the Porsche Panamera. However, it’s significantly lighter, even in the all-wheel-drive Titanium trim version I have for test.
Though styling is certainly in the eye of the beholder, I think they really nailed it with this Fusion, and I hate sedans. It’s aggressive without being boisterous, and the bobbles and bits in the sheet metal look fantastic in person. It’s certainly the best looking “mainstream” sedan, though admittedly there’s not much competition on that front.
Perhaps most impressive to me is the 2-liter inline-4 engine. This is the most powerful engine offered in the Fusion, and while its displacement and piston count doesn’t impress on a spec sheet, the output sure does: 240 hp, 270 lb-ft torque. This was my first time driving a normal car with a turbo (I wouldn’t call the Panamera “normal”). In over a week with the Fusion, there was no noticeable lag past the typical automatic transmission kick-down delay. Floor it, or even give it partial throttle, and the 2L pulled the Fusion with enthusiastic alacrity. Only once did I catch it out of gear and off boost, and there was a moment of “what the...” before the turbo and transmission caught up to my foot and launched us all forward. Not sure I can knock it for this, as I’ve done that in my car.
Around town, the Fusion handles well for a larger car, and the driver/car interaction was all quite good. The steering was well weighted, the ride was comfortable without being squishy, and the brakes arrested progress without drama. For a mainstream sedan, I’m impressed so much seems to have gone into driver enjoyment. It’s not going to be confused with a “sports sedan,” but it’s far more entertaining than most other sedans I’ve driven.
Out on the open road, though, the Fusion really shines. The seats are comfortable, eminently adjustable, and heated. The most impressive feature, though, is how quiet it is. Car&Driver, in a recent comparison test, measured the Fusion at 67 dB while travelling at 70mph. Granted, this was with a smaller engine, but to my ears, I can’t imagine the 2L is much different.
So it’s comfortable, quiet, and has a decent audio system. Sounds like a great highway cruiser to me. Speaking of the audio system...
Brent Butterworth and Geoff Morrison combine their years of gear testing and knowledge in one überblog of irreverence and techiness.
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