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Exterior Design: **
The Fusion s three-bar front grill takes us to Infiniti and that s it. The Fusion s sharp, Caddy-like fender creases are distinctly dissonant, as are the oversized (and inexplicably clear) rear lamps. The rest of the car also goes meekly where a bunch of other manufacturers have gone before, creating a design farrago that s about as organic as Cheez Whiz.

Acceleration: ****
Ye Olde Duratec gets a freshening for this application: dual overhead camshafts with intake variable cam timing (iVCT). The result delivers a satisfying amount of punch (221 hp) and a healthy amount of poke (205 ft.-lbs. of torque), but you still get the same old rough, gruff, whiney sounds under throttle (described by Ford as a velvety, sophisticated exhaust note ).

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Braking ****
No complaints here, save the fact that the binders get a bit squidgy after repeated hard use.

Ride ****
It s a bit weird to experience something very much akin to road feel in a mass market mid-sized Ford, but there it is. We celebrate the Blue Oval s decision to sacrifice plushosity on the altar of body control.

Handling *****
Ford s got this one wired. The Fusion is a front-driver that steadfastly refuses to understeer or succumb to pitch or roll — unless you do something very, very naughty. Thank you notes go to the multi-link rear suspension (that works like a double wishbone) and the front s double ball-joint lower control arm and coil-over-shocks (which places the kingpin axis further outboard than a conventional McPherson strut, helpfully enough). We d like a little more heft through the helm, but what the Hell.

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Gearbox ***
The class-first six-speed cog-swapper is smooth enough, but it s geared for highway economy with a vengeance. The autobox s complete inability to motivate the horses for highway passing power (without resorting to a vicious kickdown in the sides) strangles two stars at birth.

Audio/Video *
By equipping its entire fleet with the exact same ICE and HVAC controls — whose look, feel and operation seem carefully designed to deny drivers the slightest hint of sensual satisfaction — Fords dashboards will always seem irredeemably cheap, not matter what inputs are offered or sounds emitted. The Fusion is no exception.

Toys *
The analog clock is easy to set.

Trunk *****
The aforementioned rear suspension set-up eliminates the need for cargo killing shock towers. All that s left is space, and plenty of it.

Overall ***
[by Robert Farago]

Related:
Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Ford Fusion, Part 1 [internal]