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.
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 ).
No complaints here, save the fact that the binders get a bit squidgy after repeated hard use.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The analog clock is easy to set.
The aforementioned rear suspension set-up eliminates the need for cargo killing shock towers. All that s left is space, and plenty of it.
[by Robert Farago]
Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Ford Fusion, Part 1 [internal]